Wrapped up Reflection (for the course anyway :) )

December 8, 2009

Hello Everyone!

It’s hard for me to believe that today is the last day of the EC&I 831 course. Well. At least it is for the credit portion anyway. I do plan to drop in on future classes with Alec when he teaches this class again in the future (and please do so, Alec. This course is far too valuable not to repeat it for others, and as I say, I will certainly benefit by coming back and attending sessions from time to time). So much has happened in the last 3 or so months and so much has been learned and it’s difficult to try to explain the paradigm shifts and the new ways of thinking and broadened perspective I’ve gained. I’ll do my best anyway 🙂

My initial expectations/hopes:

When I began this course in September I was really only looking for a credit. I am nearing the end of my degree now and the road to completion has been long and convoluted for me, with some personal twists and turns (such as an ugly divorce that is taking far to long to finish) that have thrown some roadblocks in my way.  So truly, when I chose EC&I 831 I did so because it was an online class that I could do while remaining at home with my daughter. I was thrilled to see it was Alec who was instructing. I’d had the pleasure of meeting Alec a couple of times at Tlt summit conferences so that was another bonus. As far as what I expected to learn, I wasn’t entirely sure, though I had attended Alec’s session on open and social media tools at the Tlt summit and now that I reflect on this course and that presentation session, there were many overlaps.

What I learned:

There are many many things I have learned this semester. One of the most valuable lessons I think I’ll take away from this class is that I will never learn it all. And that is OK. One image that stuck with me is this one:

The idea that technology is  a coursing river and that we are standing on it’s banks watching the rushing water rage past. I have my cup in my hand and I dip it in when I am ready, drinking my fill and then turning away when I’ve had enough. I’ve learned I don’t need to dive headlong into the rapids and drown. I can satisfy my thirst and my technological needs one cup at a time. This idea is  a very valuable thing for me to take in and absorb really. I’ve always been one of those overachieving types who always puts a ton of pressure on herself to be the best, to do as much as I can no matter what it is I’m doing and while that sort of attitude isn’t necessarily terrible to have, it can and does sometimes result in an undue amount of stress. I will learn more if I relax and allow myself to absorb things at my own pace. I have felt during this course that I’ve been allowed and encouraged to do that. It’s an attitude I consciously try to encourage for my learners as well. I’m fortunate as an instructor in that my students set their own pace in the online courses they take with me.

There are all sorts of other things I have learned and there are things I will continue to develop for the future. I’ll summarize them here in this list:

  • Blogging: I’d heard of blogging prior to this course but I never really understood what it was all about or how it could be valuable for me as a professional habit and practice. I’m a very introspective reflective sort of person so blogging really is a wonderful way to formalize and solidify my thoughts. I fully intend to keep on blogging long after this course is done. I do blog on another site as well, but it’s more of an entertainment forum than an educative one, though I have learned lots there as well, just in a different context. It’s far less formal than something like this blog. I have also incorporated Forums and postings for my Psychology students to respond to in their courses, even though all of the students work asynchronously from one another. I’m hoping that just seeing what others thoughts are on different issues will spark thoughts of their own, even if the students are at different places on their learning paths.
  • Wikis: I created my Adult Basic Education Integration Wiki as my final cumulative project for this class and it’s not done. But what wiki ever is? I will continue to add things to it, polish things already added and encourage others to join and contribute. I’ve learned to do many different things in wikis and I’m just starting to see their potential as a means to share student work and celebrate learning successes. That is a direction I’d like to head into for the future too. I’d love to create a wiki to use with my online students as a part of their learning, to have them contribute to it and post their projects and so on. It’s a goal I’ll work toward down the road here.
  • Various online tools: There were so many different online tools for enhancing student work, for enriching my classroom as well as establishing my own personal and professional network, it’s hard to list them all here. I have a page on my wiki though that does a bit of that and I’ve linked it here. There are so many tools out there and so much to play with and explore. I’ve just started really. The ones I love the most are the Xtranormal video creation, YouTube and Wordle.

Favorite class sessions:

While there were SO many wonderful presentations and I did learn an immense amount about technology and how to best implement social learning activities into my day-to-day practices, there are a few that stick out in my mind as being especially memorable. They include:

  • New media literacies & Internet Blocking: This was by far the best post of my blog, I felt. I had struggled for a long time to frame and articulate what my beliefs were surrounding the thorny issue of how much trust and accountability we expect of our students to self- monitor and filter content for themselves. I don’t think they SHOULD do it by themselves, of course, but this presentation sparked a lot of thought and introspection and when it was coupled with Bud the Teacher’s blog post, this topic ended up being my favorite to explore.
  • Blogging: Sue Water’s presentation on blogging was great! I sort of wish it had happened a bit earlier in the course though, so that I would have incorporated some of her fabulous tips and hints right from the get-go. But.. sometimes jumping right into that river and seeing how things go is OK too, from time to time, especially since we had Alec on the shore with the life preserver handy!
  • Digital Story Telling: I loved this session a lot. Alan Levine’s wiki where it details 50+ ways to tell a story is one of my favorite wikis and I have it linked on my wiki too. There has been an evolution of storytelling. We’ve graduated from oral traditions, to written and now we are shifting once again into digital and visual ways of communicating. It is exciting and at times overwhelming, but it is vastly interesting too! I thoroughly enjoyed this session and there is fodder for future explorations for the next several years on this wiki, easily!!

Things I still find challenging:

There are several things I still find I’m struggling with. I don’t really like Twitter all that much, despite the fun I see others having on it and the valuable things that get shared with it. I understand the concept and can see the potential of it just fine. I’m just not sure it’s for me really. I used to always have an updated status on Facebook too, but now I don’t bother with even that. I’m never on Facebook unless my daughter sends me a message. I’m not too worried about not participating in this particular aspect of online interaction and networking, however. I know how to use these tools and I will use them when/if it becomes necessary for me to do so.

I haven’t become as proficient at using Delicious yet. I have used it and I have some bookmarks saved there but I don’t have nearly enough though. I think I’ve just gotten in the habit of making my own folders and whatnot and using that instead under My Favorites. I can definitely see that Delicious is an excellent tool but it’s one that feels clumsy to me yet. That will change with time and increasing my usage of the service, of course.

As I expressed earlier in this post, the road of learning in this course has been a twisting turning one, always with fresh surprises along the way and a simply magnificent view of the learning to come. Thank you all so much for being such incredible travel mates and guides on this incredible journey. The very very very best thing about this entire class has been the connections made with you all and the learning we have all shared together. Thanks again!

PS. All of the images used here were taken from Wikimedia Commons and are public domain files 🙂


4 Responses to “Wrapped up Reflection (for the course anyway :) )”

  1. Sue Waters said

    I’m glad my session on blogging helped you and hope that you do keep blogging. If it makes you feel any better it took me a year to relate to Delicious. Sometimes the values of tools aren’t obvious until you recognise a need to use.

    Best of luck!

    • Michelle Clarke said

      That DOES make me feel better Sue! Phew.. I’ll keep on plugging with both Delicious and Twitter, but now I won’t feel so badly if I don’t progress as quickly with them as I have with other tools 🙂

      I definitely plan to keep on blogging. I think there are some valuable things I can share as I work my way through my life and career and there are lots of good things to learn from others as well. I needz my daily forum fix!!

      • Sue Waters said

        Glad it helped you make feel so much better. Too often when people talk about these tools you feel like there is a pressure to get it instantly.

        The whole point is it is very personal. Work out what works for you and customise it to your own needs. But if lots of people are finding a tool particularly beneficial then see if there are reasons why they find it more beneficial than you.

        For example, twitter can be as simple of not having a third party app on your computer that makes it easy or following the wrong people.

        Best of luck with your blogging!

  2. Hi Michelle

    Your reflection was just great to read – clear and informative. I plan to explore the links you provided. Your point about Twitter will be shared by many folks – I love Twitter for the instant access to new and great ideas – the downside is – well – I admit it – I am a “Twitter-taker” and not much of a giver!

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