Synthesis reflection – Summer of 2009

First thing I did when I started this assignment was to reread my flight path. I discovered very quickly that it had somehow been deleted, so I had to remember what I had written and rewrite it. I think I remembered most of what I had written, so it was nice to have my goals fresh on my mind.

In terms of success meeting my goals, I would say that I definitely got the experience using an LMS that I wanted. I took two courses this summer and for both we used the Moodle LMS, so this gave me many hours of self-directed training with the support of two communities of motivated practitioners. I’ve already decided that I want to use this LMS with my students next year, and happily my new school has it installed on their servers. The plan is to export what I started in this course, and use it with my class next year.

My other goals were met with varying degrees of success. I did get exposed to some other uses of multimedia that I was not already familiar so that was nice. I also read a lot of literature that suggested best practices for using different online resources. I also had a painful reminder of how to best format images for the web (in terms of a bad grade for not doing it!).

The toolkit is a neat idea. I would have liked to have had a bit more freedom on how it was arranged, but in terms of organizing a complicated resource for a large number of students, I can really see why such rigidity is important. My two course instructors for ETEC 531 and ETEC 565 use very different approaches in terms of flexibility of course requirements, and this has helped me reflect on my own teaching practices. Perhaps a bit more rigidity in my own course requirements would help me save time grading, which I could then apply towards preparing better lessons.

I was not as diligent in using the Toolkit as I should have been. There were a couple of items that to me seemed a little less useful. For example, I have been building professional websites in my spare time for the past 4 years, and so creating a simple website using a WYSIWYG editor seemed less useful to me. Reflecting on the accessibility of said website was an excellent idea, and the gigantic list of things that make a website suck was super useful. There were a couple of eLearning Toolkit pages which were a little bit less organized than I would have liked. I actually left a comment in the discussion page of one of them, with some questions that may turn into suggestions for improvement. However, such a self-directed exercise I think is a very important part of this course, and I would recommend that even my colleagues who are not currently enrolled in a degree program like the MET (but are interested in Ed Tech) perform their own such survey.

Let’s take a look at my own e-Portfolio and assess it using the SECTIONS criteria. I’m only going to focus on the criteria which I feel like I have something useful to say.

Students:

As my classmates and I are the students reading this blog, have I done a good enough job of writing my material for that audience? I feel like I have. Rather than re-iterate points they have brought up (which I have read through my feeds of their ETEC 565 blogs), I have tried to bring up new points, and to write from my perspective.

Organizational Issues:

This blog is well organized. I’ve tried to use useful tags and categories to make it easy to find posts, which are generally organized by either what classroom Module they refer to, or that they are in the Toolkit. As well, as per the instructions for creating this blog, the most important items have their own page. This means they have a direct link in the top header portion of the blog.

Novelty:

Using blogs for education is nothing new, but have entire classes of grad students create their own space for storing their writing is a good idea. Basically this way we can all share our experiences with each other, and we are encouraged to put our best work forward.

Speed:

One immediate advantage of this platform is the speed at which we were up and running. I seem to recall that pretty much everyone in the class had a blog within the first week, which is impressive considering that a few of us had never blogged before. The instructions for getting started were slightly more rigid than some of us expected, but having recognized the reasons (earlier in this entry) for having such a formal structure in place for our blogs, it was pretty straight forward getting them set up.

Next year, I am going to be working at a new school where there is every indication I will end up being one of the leaders in the use of technology. I’m planning on focusing on helping other teachers get up to speed with some of the existing technologies as well as refining my own use of technology. The school has their own Moodle server, and I plan to use this more extensively than I have in the past, perhaps over the next two years building online versions of my existing courses.

One of my goals has been, and will continue to be, to become a provider of professional development opportunities. I’ve really enjoyed my chances over the past 4 years to provide training to my colleagues on how to use technology, whether it is for their own personal improvement, or in their classrooms. This is an area where I can see lots of room for improvement, and I can only do that with practice!

The next two semesters I am finishing off my core requirements for the MET program. I have ETEC 511, 512 in the fall, and ETEC 510 in the spring. Next summer I hope to complete the MET degree with the graduate project, ETEC 590. Once I have this degree done, I’ll probably take a break from the classroom for a few years, and try to put to practice what I have been learning.

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