Coming into ETEC 565, I feel like I had a lot of “street smarts” in that I have close to twenty years of teaching experience behind me. I know my students and my curricula very well; for the most part, I know what to do and how to do it, without having to think about logistics to any great extent. Where I feel like I lack, is in the pedagogy behind instructional design utilizing Web 2.0 practices and subsequently, in the delivery of such practices. It is because of this that I applied to MET, in the first place and without question, ETEC 565 helped me move forward in this quest to capitalize on new learning new methodologies.
Part of me regrets not doing my assignments using the WordPress platform. WordPress is the industry standard for blog spaces and the opportunity to experiment with educational plug-ins has now passed. I choose not to use WordPress for primarily two reasons. Firstly, my friend, mentor, colleague and general-advisor-of-all-things-academic, recommended Moodle and second, I reasoned that Moodle’s primary function was to serve academia, so that it would be the superior platform to work with for educational endeavors. What I remind myself is that WordPress is not going away, and should I find the time, I do believe that it will be a very worthwhile endeavor to invest that time learning more about it.
Requiring ETEC 565 students to post their work on a WordPress blog is brilliant. My limited experience in publishing my work this semester, makes me a lot more likely to spend more time with WordPress in the future. At the beginning of the course, I decided to also publish my weekly contributions to the course readings. Knowing that my posts were viewable to the public, both raised and altered “my game”. Including multi-media and images were important to me as it not only breaks up the monotony of pure text, but it allows for more of my personality to come out in my message. WordPress is still not as user-friendly as drag-and-drop Weebly, however, I am inclined to think that mastering the complexity of WordPress is not insurmountable and ultimately, the best route to go, given the vast reach of WordPress worldwide.
Tomorrow evening, it is Parent-Teacher night and I always remind myself that when you have a negative to bring up regarding a student’s standing or behaviour, that it is important to sandwich the “bad news” with “good news” on either side. In the spirit of “sandwiching”, I will attempt to do this with my Moodle adventure!
Without question, I loved this assignment. Designing a course, using a platform of my choosing was both fun and challenging. Having never Moodled before, everything was new and needed to be learned from YouTube videos. This learning process gave me confidence in my ability to persevere and learn “new tricks”(especially important, as these days, I have been feeling like an “old dog”!) My career is as much of a hobby as a profession and opportunities that allow me to think about my practice in new ways are welcomed with open arms.
Where my frustration grew with Moodle, was its lack of intuitiveness and the endless screens and settings that needed to be navigated through to complete the simplest of tasks. The amount of work that was required to simulate the look of a webpage was excessive. In my opinion, Moodle needs to be overhauled completely in order to bring it up to the industry standard of “super-easy-to-use” technology. Moodle should be taking some pages from the Apple, Weebly and Google Classroom books— these companies are doing it, so why can’t Moodle?
Overall, I was happy to be able to put some of the design principles into practice with my Moodle site. I was most mindful of the 12 Principles of Multimedia Design, although, looking through my notes, I am also pleased my adherence to the 7 Principles of Good Practice.
Walking away from ETEC 565, I feel like I have accomplished a huge leap forward in the world of design. The course readings were appropriate and each week, at least one of the questions spoke to me in such a way that I could respond to the question with my own experiences to exemplify my points. I very much appreciated having the option to work on my own in the final two major assignments as I had a clear vision as to how I wanted to organize my site, and did not want to negotiate on its focus and purpose. I am also very pleased with the choice of units that I developed because I have already utilized the videos of my lessons with two of my classes. On the last day of Spring Break, Easter Monday, I succumbed to the flu. In my district, it is not uncommon for me to not have a math and physics specialist come in to cover my classes, so I uploaded my blank skeleton notes and my newly created videos, to the Google Classroom. My Teacher On Call, simply showed my videos to my students, allowing me to teach my classes whilst at home, sick! Just today, a student who missed the lessons due to sickness, stayed after school to write the notes from an iPad. After he finished the lessons, he said that he felt that he would be able to do the work on his own—I just saved myself at least a half an hour of personal tutoring!
My only source of disappointment with the coursework was not being able to see my classmate’s sites. With only one exception, the generic student password information did not allow me access to other Moodle sites. I posted instructions as to how to allow people in, however, this did not seem to resolve my issue. Otherwise, the Connect site, in combination with the WordPress site, made navigating through ETEC 565 very fluidly. Of the four courses that I have now completed, this was the best organized. What I most appreciated was having the links to the readings included in the weekly questions and having the course calendar being printable. Speaking for myself, I have so many commitments in my life right now that having the coursework organized well, really helped minimize my own lapses in organizational withitness! (I still missed one deadline, but for that, I blame my immune system, and inability to read calendars with 100% accuracy. At least my own students will get a kick out of knowing that their teacher just handed in something late!)