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.