A Précis of My Flight Path
At the beginning of the course I had created a flight plan outlining the path I wanted to take my learning, both in the “take-off” (short-term) and the “in-flight” (long-term). I highlighted my “check-in,” where I am coming from prior to starting the MET program. I had shared the steps I had taken to becoming a teacher, and I had expressed the importance of my personal learning network (PLN). Discussing the importance my PLN has had on my reflections of my teaching practices and educational philosophies.
During my “take-off” I had shared my short-term goals to focus on my classroom, creating an environment that is meaningful to my students. I wanted to learn about applications and programs that I would be able to support using the netbooks I have available to my students. I had also expressed my desire to share my learning with my colleagues, to encourage them to integrate technology into their classes. Recognizing, as a pilot, I needed to expand my knowledge on platforms and LMSs to do so. I wanted to create a blended learning environment.
It is my “in-flight” goals that are more fluid. Today a colleague of mine made an inquiry as to how my two current courses of the MET program were going, knowing that I have only a few more days until the term will be at an end. With the changes that are currently taking place within the POWER Program, where I teach, she mentioned off the cuff that I will not be with them in a couple of years. She shared her visions with me that with all that I am learning and bringing to the teachers around me that I will move on in my career. Her words of encouragement to earn my PhD, to get out of the district (public school system) and to travel the world teaching rung in my ears. Not once had I shared these thoughts with her. As far as she was aware I was in the MET program for interests sake, with the added benefit of earning more money.
As mentioned previously by others, the eLearning toolkit is outdated. While the toolkit, a set of wikis dedicated to the explanation of a variety of technologies, I did not find it useful for my learning experience this term. As a learner that is comfortable and competent with most of the technology presented I found that I had little need for the toolkits. However, when I encountered a stumbling block, I searched for other resources looking for specific answers to the challenges I had.
Furthermore, with ETEC565A being my seventh course in the MET program, already having completed the four core courses, I was familiar with the Theory of Online Learning (Anderson, 2008) and the SECTIONS framework (Bates & Poole, 2003). Already having been exposed to these concepts from an theoretical perspective I was able to draw my own conclusions about the technologies, and their implementation, without having to refer to the eLearning Toolkit.
Although I may have been able to take the opportunity to explore a new platform I had not used previously, I was focusing on treading water. Unfortunately this term has been hectic in my teaching and my personal life with big changes, that I was not able to dedicate as much time as I would have liked to explore these new avenues.
My ETEC565A Experience
Within the past twelve weeks of classes I have been challenged to expand my thinking, to increase my expectations, and to improve the classes I teach; therefore improving the quality of learning I am providing my students. I want to go from a teacher-centred unit, where I talk at my students, and assessment-centered, where students complete questions from a workbook, to a unit that is also student-, community-, and knowledge-centered (Anderson, 2008). I would like to include more social interaction, as well as ideas of information processing and scaffolding. I want to engage my students in lessons that are seen as important and not just something that they will be tested on during a Provincial Exam required for graduation.
ETEC565A has been a great learning experience. I appreciated and embraced the opportunity to apply the theory I had previously learned to case studies and to designing an online Moodle course. While there is value in discussing how technological tool may be implemented into a course, speaking of the affordances and constraints it may have, and all too often criticizing the implementation of the tool. It is another to take the theory and to apply it, creating lessons using the technology. With creating the Moodle quiz, the two Moodle modules, and the digital story I feel that I learned far more than the final products demonstrate. In completing the assignments I spent a larger portion of time making design decisions, discussing the implementations of the tools, and reflecting on the product I was creating than the portion of time spent building the product. These hours are not seen.
The constant referencing to the application of the SECTIONS framework by Bates & Poole (2003) and of the Seven Principles of Good Learning framework by Chickering & Gamson (1987) I was able to assess the possibilities the various technological tools offered. By referencing these readings throughout the past 13 weeks, particularily during the case studies and the group rubric assignment, I learned the value of evaluating technologies before implementing them into a class environment. Even though I would evaluate the benefits and the affordances of technological tools before beginning ETEC565A, I now believe my evaluations will be stronger given they are based in theory.
Admittedly, creating the Moodle assignments was my greatest challenge in the course. Had I known the emphasis for the learning management system (LMS) was on the use of Moodle, I do not know if I would have registered for the course; especially given my frustration in using it during my BEd. As my frustrations for Moodle dissipated I began to see the relevance and the number of affordances that an LMS can have in an online learning environment. Reflecting on Gibbs & Simpson (2005) I began to design the quiz, utilizing it as an opportunity for learning, not as an opportunity to create a summative assessment. I took the time to create immediate feedback for the students, allowing them to apply the feedback to the remaining questions on the quiz. This tool and it’s ability to provide immediate feedback to the student was the highlight of creating a course in Moodle. Although my district does not support the use of Moodle, I will look for similar features in Blackboard if I use it as a LMS tool creating my blended learning environments. And if I do not use quizzes in a LMS, I will continue to use quizzes as an opportunity to emphasize learning, not emphasizing a summative assessment of the students’ knowledge.
Even as ETEC565A draws to a close I am a pilot still in flight. I will continue to learn, to expand my knowledge, and to apply my new knowledge into my classes. To quote myself, “[i]f I could, I would be a forever-student.” It is this philosophy of being a life-long learner that I wish to model for my students. To have them see that learning is a natural part of life and occurs whether you are in a physical classroom, in an online class, or in the real-world.
My goals of take-off will continue to include developing my lessons to actively engage my students in a blended learning environment. Now that I have taken the theoretical perspectives presented by Anderson (2008), Bates & Poole (2003), and Chickering & Gamson (1987) and applied them in practice, I will continue to evaluate eLearning technologies using their theories. I will continue to strive for a social constructivism collaborative environment, allowing students to work together to increase their knowledge base.
My in-flight goals will continue to remain fluid, with the hopes of being able to complete my PhD in the future, while sharing my continued growth of knowledge.
Ultimately I will remain on a path where I continue to effectively use the tools I have learned, and some new, guiding me towards tools I had not heard of before this course. Furthermore, as a pilot, I am guaranteed to have many co-pilots (members of my PLN) to support me along the way. Without sharing in our experiences we are limiting our potential for learning.
Anderson, T. (2008). Toward a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Chapter 2 (pp. 45-74). Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120146/
Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). “A framework for selecting and using technology.” Effective Teaching with Technology (p. 75- 108). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from https://connect.ubc.ca/bbcswebdav/courses/SIS.UBC.ETEC.565A.65B.2013W2.25841/ETEC565A%20%28new%29/module01/Bates-Poole-Chapter4.pdf
Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7. Retrieved from http://www.aahea.org/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm
Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C. (2005). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), 3-31. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/fast/pdfs/Gibbs and Simpson 2004-05.pdf