Sunday, April 13, 2008

Final Thoughts and Reflections of EDES 545

When the opportunity came to sign up for this course, I was quite eager to do so as I was aware of the need to become more technologically literate. However, there was a lot of anxiety that came with this need as I did not feel overly confident in being able to understand the technology of the 21st century learner. Admittedly, I am ‘digital immigrant’ but I really, really wanted to be a ‘digital native’!! So, I took and deep breath and jumped in!

I can honestly say that when I went through the course outline I had heart palpitations! Lots of readings really didn’t intimidate me, rather they are a tool that I welcome, to support my learning and understanding. Blogging and blog topics with Web 2.0 tools… yikes! I quickly learned to read and read and read more to find out about these tools. I liked the fact that Jennifer used the term ‘explore’ and that is exactly what I did! This process was ‘hands-on’ learning which for myself was very effective. One can read all they want but unless they actually try the tool, only partial learning will occur.

Connecting these tools to our teaching and learning really makes one critically examine how they teach. Throughout this course I would often reflect back on a quote that I came across; ‘There is a major shift that is critical to our classrooms, not only in what we teach our students, but also how we teach our students.’ (David Warlick) This course encouraged me to critically analyze my teaching strategy and philosophy and gave me the courage to implement change to positively affect student learning.

My cup overfloweth comes to mind when reflecting on all the readings and discussions that we had on our blackboard. Reading the topics for discussion and having to make a decision as to which one to focus on and respond to was a challenge at times. Truly I wanted to read them all but realistically I couldn’t. If you were a random abstract learner before, you had to make adjustments and become a concrete sequential learner or you would not accomplish very much. I mentioned the domino effect in one of my blogs when it comes to accessing information in this course. A reading would have references that you would check out which would have references to other writers or topics and so on. A classmate would share an article read that connected to another article and so on. There were days that I wanted to curl up with my computer and immerse myself in reading and responding to it all but alas my wiki was waiting!

The opportunity to work with a partner on creating a wiki and supporting a discussion was very worthwhile. Not only did I learn about wikis but I was able to develop some skills using the SNS of Facebook for educational purposes. Katie and I corresponded and planned on Facebook and continue to do so. I learned what an effective tool wikis are for sharing of information, thoughts and ideas. I can see so many possibilities for using them professionally with the staff and as a learning and sharing tool with students. I felt that the format used in learning about wikis was an excellent way to learn about the versatility of this tool with a partner and through the opinions and shared information from others.

Deciding which Web 2.0 tool to use to share with my staff as a professional development opportunity was not too difficult as blogs support writing and that is a focus for our school. What made this assignment somewhat challenging was limiting what to include in the paper. I wanted to share details on how I would present this tool to my staff with links to all the great information that I have accessed in this course from articles, other seasoned bloggers and from information my classmates have accessed throughout this course. I am looking forward to reading about the PD choices my classmates have made and perhaps incorporating them into future professional development days at my school.

Reading, discussing, sharing, partnering, exploring, creating, and participating are all effective learning strategies that enabled this course to be so successful for me.
I will admit that there were times that I felt overwhelmed and learning to plan and balance the workload became critical at times. The flexibility that Jennifer showed when making adjustments to our final assignments was very intuitive on her part and greatly appreciated. I can be my own worst enemy as I have high expectations of myself. I found that I spent a great deal of time on my assignments and readings and I began to loose my personal voice in my blogging. It was Jennifer who pointed this out to me and made me realize that academically I had a good understanding of the material but I needed to remember my role in the equation. I will not forget this and plan to continue blogging with a more personal voice on educational matters, issues and challenges.

An overall message that I am taking away from this course is that students today learn differently and I will need to change the way I look at teaching and how I teach in order to reach them and be an effective educator. Perhaps I am a ‘digital immigrant’ but after taking this course I feel that I am closing the gap and coming closer to understanding and developing my technology skills to those of a ‘digital native’.

“Todays education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn.” (21st Century Learning)

1 comment:

Val said...

Great reflections Cindy. I agree the learner of today learns differently than when I was trained as a teacher in the early 80's. This course has made us digital immigrants closing the gap as you say and I think its a great step. It certainly has opened my eyes, ears and curiosity and I look forward to further exploration.
Good luck with the rest of your year.
Cheers
Val