EdTech 501 Course Reflection

I am in denial that the semester is over. It can’t be December already!

I faced several challenges this semester – academically and personally.

Academically = Wow what a learning curve! The first 6 weeks of this program were met with excitement, ambition and pure terror. Having been out of school 10 years and never taken an exclusively online course before, there was a LOT to learn that had nothing to do with my courses. Balancing a full time work schedule, learning to navigate the online realm of education, trying to remember if I ever felt this tired before – I’m not going to lie, there was a moment of pure panic where I questioned what I had gotten myself into and whether how to pay back the loan money for the tuition. And then I took a deep breath. Once I got into a schedule/rhythm, everything got easier and I could enjoy the ride. Which has been eye opening, mind blowing, inspiring, and a billion other adjectives. I can’t wait to keep going.

Personally = I lost my younger cousin in November. I think it had to be one of the hardest things I’ve gone through, to lose someone so young…so loved.  Two weeks later the doctors tell us that my mother’s heart valve replacement that was performed 2 years ago didn’t work and we’ll have to go through it all again, but this time at the Mayo Clinic. It’s hard going through the holidays wondering if it’s the last one with my momma.

So while the first month was hard and overwhelming because of the learning curve and all the new things to learn, the last month has been very hard to concentrate on getting things done. Running behind constantly behind because the funeral was a week away from school and trying to get my head back in the game as it were — it’s been a journey that’s for sure.

Overcoming the academic challenges was a strategy game for me. For a while I was trying to figure out how I should be thinking and how I should approach this brand new educational content. I was trying to figure out how educational technologist would think and handle certain challenges…and that failed and added to my panic about whether I could make it through this course. Then I realized that it’s not about how others would handle this — it’s about I would. I started using my creative side to develop lesson plans that I always wanted to teach (or some that I have). I started asking asking how I, being a user that’s not familiar with this process, would respond and what I would need. Once I started trusting myself, the semester became exciting and adventurous.

Overcoming the personal challenges were a little more difficult and I am honestly not sure if I did overcome anything. However, I did find that working on projects for school helped.

My biggest shortcoming, in my own opinion, this semester was being fully participatory in discussions and feedback to my other classmates. With everything going on, I was trying so hard to get the projects completed and the reading done and feedback and peer reviews didn’t get as much of a a voice as I would have liked. I did try very hard to give as much feedback as possible, but I wanted it to more.

I am not sure if I can really tell you what artifact I liked the most this year. All of them were different and I LOVED that. Each was an experience through a different mode of exploration and I think that was my favorite thing. I got to use my imagination. I got to choose. I got to explore. All of my artifacts showcase that in someway.

I’m not sure if there is a specific action that I can I do to implement this into my work. However, I am thinking about things in a different way. I am recognizing aspects and themes as I progress the curriculum. So I guess the one thing I can now bring to my work environment is me. I am the advocate to push our training and learning to better incorporate structure and accessibility.

I would like to say before I end this post that throughout this very challenging semester, no matter how overwhelmed I became or how difficult some things were to understand, I LIKED what I was doing. More over, I am passionate about all the educational advancements and changes that are coming and I am happy that I feel that way again. There was a distinct moment, sitting down to hours of homework on night, that I felt my muscles stretch and expand in my mind – I hadn’t realized that it had been so long since I had truly pushed myself to learn new things. And it felt amazing. Thanks for a great start to an exciting field of study!

Alternate Assignment for School Evaluation Summary

For this assignment, I created a Prezi presentation that delves into 21st century learning and the role technology plans play in continuing the path forward in the advancement of our ever changing educational environment.

I wanted to step back and look at where we’ve come from and examine the unique paradigm shift we are experiencing in education at this moment in history. We are standing on the break of an awesome explosion of knowledge and discovery.  This moment in time is unprecedented in the vast amount of growth we, as humans, have tapped into in such a short amount of time. I believe that we are all in the moment (over the next several years) that will redefine how we experience the world as human beings.

Never before could take our class to ancient Egypt, explore the Lourve and the masterpieces it holds, talk to people face to face (on a monitor) from other countries and cultures as a social study assignment. How we move forward from this point will  be determined by available technology and the planning (with the participation of educators  and administrators) that we do now to set the foundation of advancements.

I intentionally set up the Prezi presentation to read from right to left to visually show a change in structure, which I believe to be an inevitable change made to our academic system as it exists today.

I also found that I am truly passionate about this topic and am very interested in being a part of the conversation as we progress our educational goals into the future.

 

I have included a link to the Prezi presentation and have also added the PDF version for review.

Link to 21st Century Learning & Technology Planning

21st century learning

21st Century Learning Rubric

Technology Trends and Tools

This week I have submitted a unit plan for university education students where the focus is not just the subject matter of Shakespeare, but how to successfully integrate this topic with technological tools that will help engage and enhance understanding.

I have taken several Shakespeare classes, through the English department and the Theatre department. Both have different focus’ in mind when teaching (one literary and one theatrical), but both were taught in a similar fashion: Sitting in a class reading out loud the lines of a play and then discussing the elements of that section. This, in my opinion, is the least desirable way to learn Shakespeare.

After reading through the Horizon Report, focusing my attention on the gamification section and reading about all the projects and tools that have been created to bring gaming theory into the realm of education, I started to think about all the amazing things that could be built and incorporated into a Shakespeare class. I thought of having a Shakespeare translator app that would make Shakespeare’s language less of a barrier for understanding. I thought of a MMO game where every quest would be a Shakespeare play, thus having the players experience the play as they leveled up through the story line. I thought of a game that was structured after a murder mystery construct that I could plug in all the details of Hamlet and let the learner discover the plot themselves.

With my head reeling with all the possibilities, I also thought about what others would have as ideas for incorporation. So my project for tech trends this week is a unit plan for a Shakespeare for Educators class, where the students were not just learners, but creators. The focus of the class would be to understand Shakespeare’s Comedy and Tragedy themes/plays and then break into design groups that would research and develop ways to incorporate technology (the focus being on gaming technology, but there is no restriction on the type of technology that is researched and presented)  into the application of teaching methodology. These groups were then to prepare a presentation on their proposed projects and technology integration. The objective is to introduce tech trends to subjects that we don’t normally associate with technology.

TechTools Unit Plan

Personal Reflection Post

This entry is not correlated with an assignment. From my understanding, one of the main purposes for this tool is to track my progress though this program, archiving artifacts as they are developed and leave personal reflection statements to reflect upon when completing my portfolio upon completion of this program. So with that in mind, I wanted to take a moment and put in a personal journal entry.

9 weeks into the first semester of this program, I am astonished by all that I don’t know! Entering a field that was otherwise unknown to me and being a non-traditional student, not knowing was expected. I will admit that I was completely overwhelmed the first month – to the point of questioning what I had gotten myself into and whether or not I could actually succeed in this program. Two main factors were at play:

1) Never in my life have I had to split my focus between full time work and course load. I am now very thankful that I was so blessed to concentrate fully on my previous degrees (as this is my third degree) with only part-time work, regardless of how much debt I accrued via student loans to help accommodate my academic focus.  I struggle every week to strike a balance between work and school. I feel torn and guilty because I know I am not able to contribute 100% of my focus on my academics (as I feel is the only priority I should have) and have been struggling with the choice to end my current job and take up something that requires less devotion so I can focus more on my studies. I know I am missing things.

2) I have never experienced online education before. This is paramount to my frustration at the beginning (and currently) to my educational goals and advancement. I am not saying it’s not effective. I am not saying it’s not a great tool. However, coming from someone who has never been involved in this type of educational environment before, I underestimated the learning curve to simply understanding a digital learning environment above that of my course content. I am used to sitting in a class and having discussions with classmates to help solidify learning (and still believe this is a vital step in the step to truly understanding content), having a professor that provides feedback on my understanding of concepts before I turn in an assignment (typically achieved during a set class period) and having the social interaction of group learning environment.  In many ways, I feel that although technology is, in fact, the key to expanding learning as a human experience, I also feel that it takes some of the humanity out of the act of learning.

With that being said, I am very well aware that I was trained to learn in a certain way. High school and universities (at the time I attended) were structured in a very specific way. Once you broke the code, learning in that set of structures became easy and ingrained into set paradigm.Unlearning these habits is quite difficult. When learning something new, one tends to fall back on a familiar set of behaviors that helped achieved understanding in the past. When those behaviors are no longer available, one must find a way to cope while feeling vulnerable and lost.

Slowly, I have been finding ways to achieve understanding in this new educational world. Some of this comes from class structure and consistency. I love how my EdTech502 class is set up. I love that every week is consistent, that all expectations and due dates remain the same and that I am able to resubmit work after submission to fix errors and demonstrate not just my knowledge, but my ability to advance with feedback and guidance (which, in my opinion, is where education is streamlined to “real world” application and growth).

On the other hand, my EdTech501 class has been a source of constant doubt for me. In a theory based course, understanding is paramount to success and although my professor has gone above and beyond to provide us with a community, hang outs and online meeting sessions, to someone like me, who has never used these platforms, it was very overwhelming and I felt lost most of the time; never knowing if what I was doing was what I was supposed to be doing.

This has led me to conclusion that I have been very dependent upon others (my professors, classmates and supervisors) for affirmation that I am learning what I should, which is a direct result from how I was trained to learn. This is also in direct opposition to what educational technology is attempting to achieve. I am starting to understand this concept now and I believe this experience, along with the content knowledge I will acquire, will help me use this degree with different users in mind. I will be able to look at a project meant for learners with little or no knowledge of an online environment and take a different approach, knowing it’s not just the content they must learn, but they will need to relearn how to learn.

As astonished as I was at all that I don’t know, what has me dumbfounded is how much I actually do know, but how unwilling I am to trust my own understanding.The most unexpected result of this paradigm shift is that I must have a better opinion of myself. I must trust myself to understand the information without someone telling me that I am correct. I must be able to confidently submit artifacts and propose ideas as a growing professional in the field. In a sense, I need better self-esteem. If I am just learning this at 33 after completing a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, I can only imagine what other learners of my generation (of all abilities) struggle with to obtain their educational goals. On the other hand, the generations that follow mine, who learn through this technological age, who are encouraged to have this self-exploratory learning, who learn to trust their own findings capabilities, will have a greater advantage, in my mind, to become the leaders and the thinkers and the innovators that may reshape our world.

Imagine what you can achieve when you give yourself permission to seek and understand knowledge through your own paradigm.

This will be a very interesting couple of years.

APA Annotated Bibliography

I chose to research the topic of gaming in education as this is what originally drew me towards the EdTech degree program. I must say this was a very informative and useful artifact. There are many things I was able to take away from these articles, mostly, however, I found that my ideas as to where education is headed with the use of ever-growing technological capabilities are shared with a vast community.

It was also interesting to read some articles that are over 5 years old. With the ever-changing role technology has played in education, it’s amazing to see how the general pedagogical ideas have shifted in such a relatively small amount of time. Myself being among on of the best examples, I graduated with my undergrad in 2003 from a science and technology school and I was only ever offered one online class, which all testing had to be completed in a computer lab with a proctor. Just over ten years later, I am completing an online master’s degree on the topic of educational technology!

I think the biggest take away I have from this research is that our learning structure is going to have to adapt if we wish to use technology to its fullest potential. The fact that we can know offer education that grows with the learner and allows the learner to progress at their own rate in conjunction with the discussion about re-classifying knowledge levels in schools to disregard age and adapt to abilities is monumental and very exciting.

The other technical aspect that I became very aware of is that APA style is almost a foreign language to me. Having one degree use only MLA and another degree use the British Standard, my mind is completely swimming with all the different mark-up possibilities out there. I did my best to read through all information provided, but concepts like this don’t really start to make sense until applied, which is why I liked the bibliography exercise.

APA Annotated Bibliography 

RSS Lesson Plan

RSS Lesson Plan

It’s been a while since I wrote a lesson plan like this and it really made me miss teaching creative writing! I have been searching for ways to make a “traditional” writing course more accessible and interactive and this semester has really opened my eyes to some of the possibilities out there! This assignment in particular got me thinking about all the different ways to incorporate technology into the world of writing.

I have always loved creative writing for two reasons:

  • The act of writing is a discovery process. It will take you places you never thought to go and it’s an action of self-expression that cannot be replicated by anyone else. Of course there’s plagiarism, but that’s replicating the finished product. The cathartic act of writing is one of the greatest personal experiences for a writer.
  • You become a student of everything. You learn how to write, yes. But that’s only the first step. The next step is to immerse yourself into whatever you plan to write. From research to points of view, you get to expand your knowledge base immensely.

So what does this have to do with this assignment? Well what I’ve learned is how to utilize RSS feeds and other online mediums (like WordPress for example) to enrich creative writing classes. Instead of always relying on text books for examples of writing, why not let the students control their exposure to writing and share it amongst themselves? Once again, reaffirming the ideal that we become facilitators to knowledge and not just the source of it.

The thing I found most difficult was keeping the lesson plan and actual lesson plan in RSS integration and not trying to plan an entire creative course (which I really want to do now!). I had to think through the entire course and how RSS would affect the overall course structure all the way down to the day-to-day activities.

I don’t think I’ll understand how to improve it until I test it. It is my goal to find time to teach creative writing again (even it’s just small workshops) using this lesson plan and several things I have learned about integrating technology into a writing class. So I will end this reflection with the thought that this is version one (my beta test) of the lesson plan that I can adjust and add to as I learn more and put it to use in a writing environment.

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

I really liked this assignment!

I love presentations. I have used Microsoft Office everyday at my job and also use a software called Captivate. So honestly, this was a bit of a step back for me using Drive Slides and simply just narrating a slide with no interactions on them. I also learned that VoiceThread doesn’t like my narration that much, so I ended up recording each slide as a separate file and uploading it to each slide, which I actually liked because I felt more in control of quality and timing that way.

I always love where research and discussion takes me! I had planned to talk about inequality in rural areas, but my conversation with Cari Clark changed that. I had sat down with Cari Clark to talk about my local school and what access (and inequality) we may be facing only to find out the awesome advancements that have been made in this school. Cari really helped me understand the issues she faces with the use of technology in her teaching and I was shocked to find that the students prior knowledge/access to technology really wasn’t an issue. It’s getting everyone else (Administration, Teachers and Parents) on-board that seemed to be the biggest obstacles. Luckily, her principal was leading a technology initiative and therefore a lot of changes were happening for her school.

Based on the information I gathered from my interviews with teachers, this knowledge will help keep me on my toes. It was quite evident that learning never stops, especially where technology is concerned, so I must always be open to learning and incorporating new styles of learning through technology into my curriculum.

If I had more time ? This is such a large topic, with SO many facets to consider that if I had more time, I would most likely try to cover all facets in more detail. I focused on once the technology was there, but there was a whole world of information about how and when that technology would be available. There are numerous entities fighting for global access that I merely skated over to get to my focus points. So if I had more time, would have given their amazing efforts voice so that their struggles and achievements would be known.

Digital Divide Presentation

Here’s the link to the video in the presentation. I wasn’t sure if the link would survive through the multiple file type changes, but I think it’s an amazing illustration of what we have available.