This was my original personal statement when I applied to my doctorate program (had to apply a second time but that is another story).
Technology has reshaped literacy by creating new means of communication, new strategies for learning, and new definitions of collaboration. The changes taking place to literacy as a result of a whole host of new and emerging technologies have redefined my view of the world and shaped the contributions I aim to make to the field of education.
By and large, today’s students turn to the Internet as their primary source of information, yet very few educators and researchers view the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a reading issue. Even fewer recognize there are unique skills and strategies required to maximize the use of the Internet. I am seeking an advanced degree to better understand how technology reshapes literacy processes and to empower other educators by distributing this knowledge widely for the purpose of affecting change.
I describe myself as perpetually inquisitive, the kind of person who seeks to explore deep and meaningful questions that will move the field forward in tangible and concrete ways. The goals I seek to accomplish as a researcher are threefold. First, I seek to affect fundamental change in the k-12 curriculum by advocating for the inclusion of new literacies instruction as a means for students to acquire 21st century skills. I will provide evidence to demonstrate the positive benefits of doing so. Second, I will contribute to practical and theoretical development of research on new literacies by providing research-based evidence that demonstrates the positive effects new literacies instruction has on achievement. Third, I seek to contribute toward the development of new models of professional development for technology integration and to work to increase the collaboration between state educational schools and at risk public schools. These three goals will help guarantee that students who are most in need of instruction on the new literacies of reading comprehension have the opportunity to take part in well-designed instructional activities.
Since entering the 6th year certificate program I have delved into the legions of literature exploring both offline and online comprehension. During this time, I have built the background knowledge I need to make connections between research and practice. I have put these skills into practice by completing my first manuscript for publication. My article entitled “Forums and Functions of Threaded Discussions” will be included in the new literacies themed issue of the New England Reading Association Journal.
The use of ICT’s in the active construction of meaning not only requires new literacies, but also demands more complex traditional literacies. As a doctoral student I will develop models for professional development that have a lasting impact. I seek to become a vehicle for change in schools, not only help teachers to better understand what new literacies are, but also to spark new ideas for ways to help students acquire these essential strategies. I will use new technologies such as wikis, Webpages, and threaded discussions to build a community of educators dedicated to growth and change.
I have been recognized for my efforts to integrate technology within my curriculum and was awarded Connecticut Educator’s Computer Association technology integration award. I will continue this work by conducting professional development seminars, similar to my recent presentation at the First Annual Essential Literacy conference, that use ICT’s in order to develop on going dialogue, reflection, and community as the cornerstone for teacher training.
When I complete my doctoral degree, I will dedicate myself to building new pathways between educational institutions and at-risk public schools. I believe that teacher education programs would benefit from an apprenticeship approach, such as the ones applied to hospital residency programs. In my opinion, doctoral students should spend time in schools serving as curricular and educational specialists. This model of community service would open up avenues for research while providing schools with an invaluable service. I also believe states, as part of the accreditation process, should require greater cooperation between the research community and at-risk schools. At-risk communities face so many needs. As a university professor, I would advocate for the supervision of doctoral and graduate students in service as educational specialists within these priority schools. As a professor I would advocate for research conducted collaboratively with school administrators. This would help build an atmosphere of positive change while developing a design research-based curricula and application of best practices. Such an endeavor between k-12 schools and universities would lend credence to the field of education as a noble effort that takes the entire global village.
Technology has changed literacy, and transformed how students learn. It has changed my goals as an educator. As a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut I will make contributions to better understanding the theory and practice of new literacies instruction and the use of ICT’s to build a new model for professional development. I will work to build bridges between the research community and at-risk schools making a lasting difference in the field of education.