Jeff Freels

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  • Graduate student in the GMU Higher Education Program; Adjunct instructor of History
  • George Mason University; Prince George's Community College
  • @JeffFreels

The computer game Civilization has had a profound impact on my life. From its first iteration to its fourth (the fifth, out most recently, is terrible) I have been a junkie. There is just something about controlling the evolution of a society from the Stone Age to the Space Age that I found/find immensely appealing. Yet, while I was mainly drawn to it as entertainment, I have probably learned more about the history of war and science through that game than any other place, which is why I find it strange that I was vehemently opposed to the integration of technology with education until only a few years ago.

My orientation towards being a pro-technology educator began simply enough when I realized how much easier I could make my job by posting course documents on the institutional LMS. Instead of having to always carry around the syllabus, lecture notes, or other course handouts, I could simply point students to Blackboard where they could download them themselves. Then, the next thing I knew, I was putting quizzes and grades on Blackboard. Finally, I was offered the opportunity to teach an online course and I saw firsthand how well the format can work for the right kind of student. Now I embrace technology as having great potential for learning.

I have been a community college history teacher for over six years and a graduate student at Mason for almost two; I have taught face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses and my chosen field of research is the pedagogy of educational technology. I just commenced a research project this semester, under the guidance of Kelly Schrum, in which I am examining how collaborative note-taking on Google Docs in a hybrid history course contributes to student engagement. Also, I have been using Twitter as an instructional tool since the fall 2011 semester and have become convinced of its efficacy in encouraging student engagement. I hope to complete my PhD in Education from Mason in 2015 or 2016.