I’ll be very honest…my initial reason for taking this course was entirely motivated by a desire to NOT have to drive during the winter months to Regina for classes. That I could sit in the comforts of my home and participate was a huge incentive, so much so, that I overlooked my insecurities about participating in a course focused on technology. As I recall in my first blog post, I acknowledged that I was not a techno newbie entirely, but certainly had plenty of room to grow. I think I’ve certainly done that.

In terms of course structure – I enjoyed having different guest speakers every week. It was great to be exposed to a variety of perspectives and issues regarding education and technology. While some guest speakers appealed to me more than others, I was always able to find something to connect to – even those presentations that got a little technical on me!! More important, however, was the dialogue among participants that emerged from many of our presentations. It was great to connect with so many people and hear how our struggles/challenges/successes were often similar, but in many cases also different. I enjoyed hearing what initiatives were happening in other divisions, and being privy to exemplars of wonderful ways to integrate technology into our classrooms. The power of the network has certainly been impressed upon me.

In addition to enjoying great conversation with fellow classmates and our instructors, the next best part of the course, for me, was reading other participant’s blogs. So often I would find posts that echoed my own thinking and ideas…which was affirming, but in other instances I would be challenged to think differently or more broadly about issues. My own blogging began with trepidation, and admittedly, I’ve yet to become a prolific blogger. I found I often preferred to read blogs and respond than write my own. What is so interesting to me, though, is that recently I’ve actually had the urge to blog…seriously. I would have never thought it possible, but as I’ve been heavily involved in some professional learning lately, I found that I wanted to write some posts – not necessarily because I had a huge desire to share with others, but more importantly to consolidate my own learning. I am dumbfounded by my density at times; I know how important “writing to learn” is…and yet, it has taken me until semester’s end to recognize the potential of my blog to serve as a tool for that powerful metacognitive strategy. It’s a struggle some days, I tell you.

One of the more challenging aspects of the course for myself was definitely the class collaborative wiki. I felt from the beginning that I didn’t have much to contribute as I lacked the expertise and/or knowledge to do so. As many of the tools we explored were entirely new to me, I wasn’t sure how to share useful information on them. Also, it became quickly apparent to me that much of the software/tools I am more familiar with were not open source -which while still useful, lose some of their appeal when subscription fees are attached.

As I’ve blogged on my digital project earlier, as well as reflected on it during our last session, I’ll not say much more except that I am hopeful I find a way to engage teachers in online, collaborative professional learning. While I’ve chosen a format that I think is useful for now, I’m cognizant that it will undoubtedly change and develop over time, ideally in the hands of teachers. The nature of my job is such that I know I will continue, indeed be required, to find ways to use technology both in my work with teachers, and also with students. That I could authentically connect this project to my current work was of huge benefit also.

Perhaps one of my greatest understandings I’m taking away from this course is the type of learner I am…or perhaps was. I always perceived myself to be a motivated, self-directed learner. Surprisingly, I found out that I struggled with the openess and flexibility available to me in the course.

When I initially discovered we wouldn’t have to write a formal paper, I was ecstatic…but about half way through the course…I was wishing that is exactly what I would have to do! It would be much easier – find a topic, research it, and write a paper – or two! Having the freedom to choose a digital project, thinking and rethinking what might be useful and manageable, was challenging. I was wishing that I was sitting in a classroom, being told exactly what to do and how to do it. How lazy!! But, I guess I’m from the generation of “sit and get” – so that is what is comfortable for me. The blogging, digital project, collaborative wiki – it allowed me such freedom that I wasn’t sure how to manage it at times.

I couldn’t help but think of our students, and how in our zest to provide them with authentic learning opportunities through avenues like project based learning or inquiry, they sometimes find it difficult to make that shift to being a self-directed learner. I recall having students say to me, “Can’t you just tell us what we need to do??” and my response to them was usually, “God forbid you’d have to think!”…and yet, here I was, wishing that someone would tell me what to do. I’ve come to realize my hypocrisy, and am more sensitive now to the reticence of our students to participate in learning activities that are outside their comfort zone.

The hallmark of true learning, of course, is that it moves beyond our current context and we apply it to a new situation. Well, I’m happy to say I’m now using google docs to manage my ball team. I’d have never thought of it before this class – and while I’m no expert – it is meeting our needs and helping us manage things in a more efficient manner than via email all the time. Who knew??

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