How well do you feel you met these expectations this semester?
Wow, this class has been extremely beneficial for me! During our first week of the class I felt a bit “confused.” I wondered HOW I was supposed to complete these weekly blog posts. What were the right answers? What format were my responses supposed to be in? I realized that the expectations of the course matched the course! One of the huge take-aways of unpacking student interests is that students get choice. I, too, had the opportunity to experience this choice during the semester. I feel as though I thoughtfully responded to each assignment, and that I feel that I was successful in giving back to the group. The connected learning community was embraced as I learned from my peers, often extending an idea that was of my peers. I was successful in exploring the key ideas of connected learning throughout this semester, and I also feel as though each week I got more out of it than expected. I particularly enjoyed the “Find 5’s” because it encouraged me to think about each week’s theme even further, stumbling upon some extremely great material! Another expectation that I feel like I fully met was connecting in ways that may have been a bit out of my comfort zone. I have always been a “facebook” user, but to me the idea of even creating a Twitter account was really scary! This course inspired me to want to connect to like-minded people, and because of that expectation, I learned so much. In addition, once we started the maker movement, open learning and peer supported learning portions, everything really started to “click” in terms of how I could integrate these great ideas into my already-existing curriculum. A huge take-away for me is that students are not just parts of one set curriculum, but rather a part of community; a community of learners, in which they should all strive to be active participants within. I think I was able to tackle this topic with a bit more each week, therefore meeting the expectations of ED677. At first I thought that all of the “Making” had to be online; but I learned that making does not have to be purely online but instead can (and should) involve making and sharing things that we create using materials and our own two hands. What is powerful about this message is that the “production centered” component of connected learning is not limited to the creation of a blog or a Twitter account. The connected community reaches far beyond digital forums. Additionally, I feel that the key concepts learned and the exposure to all my peer’s work has taught me how to appeal to students’ auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learning.
Where do you think you could have improved?
As I touched on above, I had a hard time getting used to the idea that there was not one set, perfect way to reach success. It took me several weeks to have an open-mind and go with my instinct each week while responding on my Blog. Because of this, I spent many, many hours each week on my course-work. I think I could have improved my efficiency if I just let go of the “grade” attached to this course, and instead go with the flow and put more trust in the fact that learning can take on many forms. In addition, I think that I could have improved on the connections that I made with fellow classmates. I had a hard time keeping up with everyone’s ideas, and I know I could have got a little more out of the course if I followed my peers more closely. Although time-consuming, I know this wealth of knowledge would have brought a lot of great ideas into my teaching. While I learned so many valuable tools and methods for connecting with fellow learners and was (for the most part) successful in utilizing these resources I could have read each blog post more thoroughly. I used WordPress to create my blog, and from time to time I felt discouraged when I saw the lack of traffic to my blog. Some weeks I felt like I put so much time and energy into my posts, and then I’d notice that not many people were reading my posts. This discouragement, over time, made me feel a bit less interested in the topics. Looking back, however, I realize that I could have thrown my work around a bit more; putting it out on the internet in more places, hoping to capture a bigger audience. Afterall, I was proud of what I created each week and I wanted more people to see my hard work. I think that this teaches me a valuable lesson in the world of connected learning, however. Unlike face-to-face communication, connected learners need to put forth the extra effort required to keep lines of communication open and flowing. They also need to put forth the extra effort to read and comment to their peers, in order to get the same in return. Overall, I feel like the positive gains from this coursework completely outweigh the “improvements” that I could have made. If anything, these “needed improvements” made the course even more valuable.
How do your successes and reflections on improvement inform your connected learning moving forward?
I walk away with knowledge of so many interesting and practical tools for incorporating technology and online learning into the classroom. Reflecting on the semester, I acknowledge that connected learning takes commitment and truly requires a group of individuals with a common purpose and passion – whatever that may be. I also walk away with PURE compassion for student choice and student interests. Whatever it may be, in order to be effective, teachers MUST consider their student. So many teachers constantly wonder, “why aren’t my kids listening?” or “Why aren’t my kids completing their homework?” Teachers constantly search for incentives, or for rewards. Truth is, if we can get our kids to love learning, these incentives and awards become unnecessary. If students gain knowledge through unpacking their interests, they will WANT to learn, WANT to come to school, and overall they will extend their learning FAR beyond the classroom walls. In addition, they will learn the best lesson of all; which is how to be a life-long learner. Then, the equity they will get in their education is huge. If these kids are the teachers of our future, wouldn’t it be great to think inequity may rarely exist in decades over time? If all students of our future learn through the digital age and all it has to offer, the opportunities that open up to them would be endless!
What else do you want me to consider when assessing your performance and participation over the past semester?
I feel as though the above questions say it all; I’ve enjoyed this course immensely. I was very hesitant when I signed up for this course because my workload this Spring was already intense. I am so glad that I took on the challenge and was part of the Community of Learners during this semester. The amount of work was completely outweighed by the things that I walk away with; and it was worth every post, reading, challenge, late night, etc.
I want you to know that the articles, readings, and ideas that I stumbled upon each week contributed so much to my learning and have made me a better teacher. It was virtually impossible each week to share everything that I came across. I leave this course with so much knowledge and I contribute all of that to your OPEN style and all the choice you gave to us this semester! Thank you for not just giving me that opportunity as a student, but also for modeling what choice looks like and feels like in the eyes of a student. Thank you, Christina!