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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

 


Module 3 Reflection

March 17th, 2014 Comments off

At the beginning of this semester I did what I always do and look ahead at the projects and assignments that I will do over the course of the semester. I’m always a little overwhelmed by research papers. I know it is odd since I am a writer and English teacher but research papers have always given me trouble. I over think them and create a lot of anxiety. That anxiety always lasts until I get started and I feel that the creation of this annotated bibliography has helped me get over that anxiety. I have found a topic and already started doing research. I didn’t get to thoroughly read all of the resources that I found, but I have many that now will help synthesize a discussion about community building being a key to a successful online course. I’m excited about it and looking forward to the next module as I begin to delve deeper and start writing. I’m also excited about the peer review process. Throughout my undergraduate career, I participated in many writing workshops. Many of those workshops were for various creative writing courses. I’ve always felt that the workshop or peer review is an effective and useful way to hone writing. I’ve used it many times in my own classes that I facilitated a well. I’ve always been interested in building the community. In my professional work training agents online to provide technical support over the phone, one of the areas that I focus on is breaking the walls that agents put up. I take a group of people from all over the country who have never met and turning them into a community by breaking their walls and drawing them out. I do a lot of things, but my environment is mostly synchronous and does not suffer from all of the issues that the asynchronous environment can. As, I don’t plan on staying in my corporate position indefinitely, I am very interested in building a learning community form groups of people who meet asynchronously. If I were doing a Master’s thesis or if I do a doctoral dissertation one day, this would be my area of focus. How to best create the community and the direct and measurable benefits to student learning.

 


Module 2 Reflection

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

This module was a lot of review.  It reminded me of my undergraduate days.  I was drawn to one particular category of theories.  Connectivism has always intrigued me.  It always has made sense to me that we learn by making connections.  That’s how I remember things.  It’s not so much the knowledge, but the circumstances and locations that I learned it in.  I also believe strongly in the PLN and CoP.  While my memory is rather good, I don’t think it’s possible to learn and retain everything that I need to know in order to do my job.  Instead, I focus on retaining where I can find the information.  With the internet and the mass amount of information available to us now, it’s really only the smart thing to do.  It’s something that I do with my students.  I pull the information from them.  I focus on content, but I also focus on using tools that help students find and relate to the content.  With the rapid flow of information that we have today, students are accustomed to being bombarded with it and having it at their fingertips.  I see no reason to try to fight this.  Instead, I encourage students to use their phones and look up information.  I encourage the creation of personal learning networks.  The role of a teacher, my role, is not to put information in student’s heads.  It’s to expose them and teach them how to create their own web of learning where they can connect with and put the information in context.  I guide them to find the answers that are relevant to their interests, needs, and inclinations.  I guide them to create their own connections and context so they can develop a deeper understanding of the content.

 


Module 1 Reflection

February 10th, 2014 Comments off

I currently train adult learners in a corporate setting.  I work from home and my learners are learning from home.  I provide synchronous lessons through Adobe Connect.  In my case the technology (internet, Adobe Connect, and other communication tools) was implemented for the sake of expanding the workforce and connecting with more potential employees.  My company provides telephone technical support for customers of a national company.  There are physical sites throughout the U.S. but turnover can be high in a call center and sometimes the recruiting pool is not very large.  By expanding operation to a work-at-home environment, the application pool is larger and more diversified, but this has presented some challenges.

The project has suffered from poor planning and implementation of policies and procedures.  Often, as the instructor, I spend a good deal of time helping my agents deal with and solve technical issues.  In the world of bring your own device, my company does not provide the equipment.  Each employee must provide their own computer and interact with the company VPN through a company provided USB disk that houses the operating system.  This USB disk suffers problems and is still in the testing stages.  It is frustrating now when training a class, but at the same time, I am on the ground floor and am helping to create the change needed to bring the program to a better position.

This is my last semester in the EDTECH program before completing my portfolio.  I’ve attempted this course two other times but have had to withdraw due to medical issues.  I have the benefit, at this point, of quite a few classes and can be of better assistance at work.  Using policies and practices in this program, I have helped design processes and instruction to help agents struggling with the tech side of work.  In a national large program like this, teaching the tech is needed.  Many people come to the company with little or no knowledge of the tech they use to do their job.  Many of the trainers in the program don’t know the tech that well either.

Looking at the material for this module, I can’t help but ponder what used to be considered educational technology advancements.  Take the pencil for example.  This is such a commonplace item now.  Everyone knows how to use it, but when it was first introduced in the classroom, it’s hard for me to imagine using it for the first time.  This is a similar feeling that I have now.  I worked my way to trainer in my company in a traditional brick and mortar site.  I trained in a traditional classroom for over a year.  It has been a big change for me when I started working from home.  I’ve had to adjust and interact with my equipment in ways that I haven’t before.  I’ve had to create processes and procedures for myself that I turn around and teach to other trainers and agents.  We’re still in the formative stage now, but we are growing and discovering a lot of best practices.

 


Module 5 Reflection

December 2nd, 2013 Comments off

This module was fun.  I enjoyed designing the lesson and finding the materials.  I’ve taken EDTECH 521 and 523 already and this is what I really enjoy about the entire online teaching process.  I have installed a Moodle installation on my webhost so that I could become familiar and practice with Moodle.  During this module I really learned a lot of new things about Moodle.  I had to do some troubleshooting since the site pages would take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute to load.  I had theme designer mode on which forces Moodle to not cache anything and severely reduces performance but is useful when designing new themes.

During this module, I had to really delve in and experiment with what works best in Moodle and what looks appealing.  I chose to do something a little differently in Moodle.  I installed my own distribution of Moodle and got to really play around with the administration.  I chose to treat my lesson as a module in a course but instead of the other contents of the course being contained in the same Moodle Course, it would be divided among six different Moodle courses.  I realize that this would not be ideal in a traditional Moodle installation that is actually used by students, but I chose this way since it gave a better aesthetic appeal to the course and better visuals which, I felt, led to a nicer flow through the unit.  I could be wrong of course, but I was experimenting and did have some fun with it.

I think that the most difficult part of designing this lesson was starting.  That’s always my hardest part, but once I get started, things tend to go smoothly.  Like I said, I was having some severe performance related issues with Moodle which were very frustrating, but once they were solved, things zipped along.  I like Moodle’s format and how easy everything blends together.  I’ve used programs like Infinite Campus and PowerSchool and they just don’t have the connectivity of Moodle.  Grade books in Infinite Campus are a nightmare to set up.

Online teaching is the way education is headed.  I really enjoy curating content and sharing it with learners to guide them in a direction of learning and discovery.  It’s one of my passions and this lesson design allowed me to tap that energy.  I really needed the creative spark it has afforded me.  This module is also good experience for me.  I will be undertaking the online teaching internship this spring so that I can get my online teacher certification.  This helped me gain some useful experience that I will be able to take with me into that class.

 


Module 3 Reflection

October 16th, 2013 Comments off
I enjoyed this module.  It gave me the opportunity to look through and revisit many online tools that I’ve been interested in or have used before.  I looked at Twitter, Scoop.it, Diggio, Facebook, Prezi, and Voicethread.  I also delved into Pinterest a little as wells as Edmodo and Learnist.  All of these sites provide services and tools that could be very beneficial to education.  Adults learn differently than adolescents and need to have clear goals.  It helps if the tools are intuitive.  From my experience teaching adults, the more they have to learn to actually use the tools, the more difficult it can be to gain buy in.  I’ve found that most people that I interact with use or are familiar with Facebook.  Even my grandmother uses Facebook.  I decided to spend my time exploring all of Facebook’s many tools and features.  About a year ago I created a group on Facebook hoping to get a writers together to share writing and give feedback.  Well it didn’t work out, but it did give a vehicle to explore the tools that Facebook offers.  It really is impressive.  I started to see many feature that full blown LMSs offer.  File uploads, messaging live and asynchronous chat and discussions.  Video and photo sharing and video calling are all present.  I am really excited.  Facebook offers so many possibilities for adults.

 

I think that the biggest advantage for adult learners is ease of use and familiarity.  Adults, when in a comfortable place learn better.  Facebook gives them that comfort—that familiarity.  It gives them the tools they need to succeed.

 


Module 1 Reflection

September 9th, 2013 Comments off

Most of my experience teaching has been to high school students.  My BS is secondary education.  I originally started the MET program looking to advance my teaching methods by incorporating more technology into my traditional classroom and to even move, perhaps, to teach fully online but it was always with high school students in mind.

Well, a couple of huge life changes happened and I found myself in a traditional classroom teaching adults ranging in age from 18-60.  This was a new experience for me.  The whole goal of the teaching was different as well.  I now taught people how to do their jobs.  The curriculum was very specific and goal oriented.  The learners were being paid to be there so the typical high school lack of motivation was largely eliminated.  It was still there with the younger adults, but the problem was quickly eliminated with a threat of getting fired.  Sometimes the threat had to be carried out but it was different for me because I could eliminate the problems and disruptive students.

I also found that the students seemed a bit more motivated because they were learning a task that they were going to be doing for eight hours per day and in most cases the task scared them a little at the beginning.  I changed my focus and started researching about adult learners and what they might need that was different.  This course is part of that research and serving as an elective for me.

Since March, I have transitioned from a traditional classroom to a virtual one and now train students that will work from their own homes taking phone calls for technical support or a major company.  This has been a huge change for me and I can immediately some of the differences here.

I’m going to begin by defining an online course.  It’s simply a course that is delivered online via Internet technology and protocols.  The students do not meet face to face in the same room, although with the use of video conferencing technologies, a virtual face to face meeting can be arranged sometimes.  Online teaching involves many different aspects that are similar to traditional teaching.  The instructor has to play the part of authority (sometimes), subject matter expert, facilitator, coach, and the numerous other roles.  With traditional classrooms all learning is synchronous.  With online education, asynchronous aspects come into play.  Students not only don’t have to meet face to face, but they can also attend and participate at different times.  It can make courses more diverse and the range of experiences of the students more expansive.  It’s an exciting field.  Online education can be done synchronously as well.  The classes that I teach are all synchronous and made possible through the use of Adobe Connect for virtual meetings with audio.

Designing an effective online course can be challenging.  It’s simply not enough to take curriculum designed for traditional classrooms and shove on an LMS.  That will fail.  Group work can be more challenging as well as discussions.  Also, the camaraderie and sense of community that naturally spring into existence is by no means naturally occurring in online environment.  Instructors need to have additional activities at each stage of the course and require specific participation to build the community.  Online learners are behind the digital wall of anonymity and usually will not connect with peers without some bit of coaxing and participation in activities designed for students to get to know each other and bond.  Additionally, instructors have to develop different ways to conduct formative evaluation.  They can’t pick up on body language, blank stares, or vocal tones to surmise if students are “getting it.”  They have to create quizzes, monitor discussion boards, and create assignments designed to gauge understanding.   With my current position being completely synchronous, it’s still imperative to have these activities and little quizzes and polls.  Even though I can hear their voices and they can converse amongst themselves, the digital wall is still there and it takes a little more work to climb it.

Assignments have to be approached differently as well.  Assignments and tasks that are routine in a traditional classroom have to be redesigned.  For example “come and write that on the board” can’t happen in the digital world, so we might use a discussion board with prompts instead.    So I guess, the effective online class would incorporate methods to build community and camaraderie, more formative assessment that does not include observation since observation is not directly possible, and a redesign of curriculum so that the activities, including group work, work and are effective in an online setting.

 


Social Network Learning Course Reflection

December 10th, 2012 Comments off

When I first enrolled in this course, I was very excited. I have been and am still very interested in bringing the power of social networking to education and the classroom. I had been looking at utilizing Facebook as a means of announcements, disseminating homework information, and as a student support network. Facebook and other social network sites have the power of being nearly universally known. Many current students already make use of these sites, so the overhead of teaching them how to use it is virtually non-existent.

I had a Twitter account coming into this class and a Diigo account.  I never used them though.  I thought them to be a waste of time.  And even most of the way through this course I didn’t feel that Diigo was much different than Scoop.it.  I’ve learned a lot about the power of Twitter, Scoop.it, and Diigo.  These tools, with Facebook are something that I will incorporate into any online course that I conduct and even into a regular classroom should I ever teach in one again.

Twitter is perfect for announcements and other types of quick information sharing and idea sharing. I had scorned Twitter.  The only reason that I even had an account was because of EDTECH 501.  It required it.  I like Twitter so much now and so excited about its potential that I have the app on my phone’s home screen.  I check it multiple times daily.

Curation is a topic and practice that I had always done, but never realized that I did.  I curated such a variety of topics from information on video game story lines to technical information on PHP scripting.  I collected links and even whole articles and stored them in folders on my hard drives.  My collections soon became unmanageable.  However with the wealth of curation tools including Diigo and Scoop.it, I’m excited to begin using them to help organize my mass of information hoarding.  I’m excited to teach others to use these tools as well.  I didn’t understand their worth at first but see it now.  I’ve practically fallen in love with Scoop.it.  Its only real drawback is its limitation on the number of topics you can have.

Now for the best part of this course and what I enjoyed the most – the MOOC.  I didn’t know that these existed.   I love this idea.  I’m a lifelong learner.  I learn to learn and I don’t care what it is as long as it interests me and stimulates my brain.  MOOCs are awesome and I can’t wait to delve more into this fascinating area and possible even conduct a few.  I’d really love to take part in the one that I designed and others that I saw my peers start and design. I may not make an entire course into a MOOC, but I definitely will add aspects of MOOCs into my courses.

This entire semester, I’ve enjoyed the various social networking tools that we’ve used and the information about digital footprints.  It’s been a great course and I’ve loved every minute of it.  Social media and networking have such powerful sharing and community building platforms already in place.  It’s silly that mainstream education has not fully harnessed their power yet, however I see improvement and the road heading that way.

 

 


Personal Learning Environment Graphic and Reflection

October 29th, 2012 Comments off
PLE

My Personal Learning Environment

When I first sat down to complete this PLE graphic, I was a little overwhelmed. I’ve never really thought about how I go about learning. Even in a classroom, I didn’t think about how I learned, I just showed up and learned. As I pondered this, I realized that it doesn’t matter if I’m in a classroom or learning on my own, I go about it in the same way. I tend to have a starting point in which I always begin. Most of the time this is a simple Google search and at other times, I begin by asking someone I know that I know that knows more than me. Either way, once I begin, I tend to take rapid amounts of information in and let it all jumble together until something significant comes out. It’s controlled chaos. Often, what I end up learning only vaguely resembles what I intended to learn in the first place. For example, I wanted to know more about storyboards for my course that I’m designing for EDTECH 512. I searched and found some good information but them something caught my eye and before I knew it (and I’m not quite sure I could follow the path again) I was on a page for Leap Motion. Leap Motion is a small company that is pioneering a new type of input device for PCs and Macs that revolves round gestures in the air. It’s similar to the Xbox Kinnect but much more sensitive and advanced. This fascinated me and took up several hours or reading and watching videos. To make a long story short, my initial search for ideas about story boards led me to pre-ordering a new and exciting piece of tech. I spent a great deal of time learning through my various channels which included Wikipedia, Apple, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Google, Microsoft, and others.

This is how I learn. I follow the trails to what interests me. If what I set out to learn is important and I get sidetracked (which is quite often) then I eventually come back to it, but not until after I learned something else which usually captures my imagination or interest. I’m obsessive. When I decide to learn, I find as much information as possible and absorb it. None of it makes sense at first, but eventually, and at unexpected times, it all fits and makes sense.

This is chaos I guess. Like I said, I’ve never really analyzed it. I’ve always just done it and it’s always worked for me. Sure, I’m always pushing my due dates and deadlines because of my propensity to get side-tracked and even sometimes back-tracked, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It keeps my thinking processes running even when I’m filling out the monotonous corporate paperwork (usually triple tracked rosters and reports) for my current batch of agents.

With all of that out of the way, I found that many of the online communities that I belong to are usually part of my search. I find useful information in wide range of places like Facebook and Twitter, Google and YouTube, Apple and Microsoft. I also find good places to get general information from Wikipedia, Google searches and believe it or not Siri. Corporate sites have some good information but can’t always be trusted to be unbiased. I tend to gravitate towards sites like Youtube, Voicethread, and WordPress. These sites are user generated and cannot always be relied upon, but they can also provide a wealth of information and eventually I learn who is accurate and who is not. Sites like Classroom 2.0 can house great ideas and information as well.

Basically, my PLE is the web. I use what is there and sift until I find what I need or until I understand. I’ve always been an independent learner and the web has made it even easier for me to continue in this process. I’ve found that the key is healthy skepticism. Just because someone sounds credible, if there is no corroboration of more trustworthy sites, then the information is probably not trustworthy.

Looking at my classmates PLEs I notice that many include the major social networking sites like Facebook Linkedin, and Twitter. This is good. This is how people connect. This is how people ask others for help and information when they can’t go to them in person. Email is used for this as well.

I noticed that many PLEs seem somewhat chaotic with arrows or lines going to and from every icon or community. This is natural. The learner is taken on a path that can have many different roads leading to the same goal. This is the web. Information is sent out and left to find it’s own way to it’s destination. This is also how the human brain functions. It’s no surprise that PLE operate this way as well. The brain is complex and learns what it needs to in any way that is efficient. I noticed that many of my classmates PLEs cluster sites together into different groupings like personal, professional, and academic. MIne does this as well. Certain sites are given more credibility based upon their function and reason for existence. I put more credibility into information that comes from BSUs website than I do for information that comes from a random WordPress blog. However if that blog is a blog that I’ve read often and for a while, I can get a sense of the level of credibility.

All of the representations of PLEs are similar in that they represent where we all get our information from. Many include other people in their environment and this is natural. Others have been a source of learning since the beginning of time. Many include social sites and search sites. This is how we start our learning quest. They differ somewhat in the sense that not all have the same sites. There are commonalities but not any two contain all of the same sites and communities.

We are all different and we all learn differently. For some it is a very logical, step by step, process. For others it is a iterative and circular process. The PLEs exemplify this. We all are different and all learn differently, but we share commonalities. It’s natural for our PLEs differ as well, but share similarities.

 


Evaluation and Concurrent Design Planning Reflection

October 1st, 2012 Comments off

Evaluation and Concurrent Design Planning Reflection

This phase was, at first, overwhelming to me. After reading the material from the textbooks, I was scared. The tasks seemed daunting and hard to achieve in a mock setting. However, once I began, I realized that it was going pretty smoothly. The evaluation planning was easier than it looked since I had already been thinking about it and devising it as I worried about how to do it. Some of the tasks seemed like they might be a little out-of-place for the course that I’m designing, but I went with it and produced a good plan.

The concurrent design planning was even easier. I had already determined much of my assessment methods when I had created the original TOAB for the last module. All that was left was including performance objectives. At first the idea of objective clustering stumped me. I didn’t know where to start, but I soon realized that as I created my LTMs and my TOAB, I designed with this in mind. The objectives fell into nice categories that will be appropriate for learners.

Overall, this phase of the project was much more enlightening and valuable than I initially thought it would be.

 


Analysis Phase Reflection

September 26th, 2012 Comments off

Analysis Phase Reflection

This phase was and always is one of the most difficult phases for me. It forces me to think about what I want to teach as well as why I need to teach it. I’ve always struggled with this phase of the design process. Delving into what is really the objective of a learning task is quite complex. I’ve created learning task maps, TOABs, problem analysis and everything else before for both my job and previous coursework, but never on the scale of an entire course. It’s always been on a unit or a small lesson. The task was overwhelming and difficult to start, but once I started, I found the process to go quite smooth. It’s a matter of thought. Once I got into the frame of mind needed to dig deep and analyze what it was that I wanted to teach and how to go about the process, the rest fell in line. The TOAB was especially difficult. Many of these skills that I want to teach are so ingrained in me that the sub skill required did not come to mind easily. This was challenging and I believe the rest of the design document will be as well.