EDUC 537 Personal Relections and Discussion Posts

I am very pleased to be taking EDUC 537. I had been looking forward to learning about website design for a while, and thought that this summer would be the best time for me. I was on a waiting list for a few days at the beginning of the course, so I had some catch up to do when I finally got in. It didn’t help that I had a six day family vacation planned the day after getting into the course. I am also taking EDUC 541 which also includes web site design components (an EPSS project), so I have had my hands full. There were times early in the summer that I felt a little overwhelmed and sometimes wondered if I was posting to the correct classmates.
I had only completed EDUC 533 towards my program before entering this course, so I have learned much this summer.
Here are some of my thoughts on what I have learned:

Multiple Intelligence
I was somewhat aware of multiple learning intelligences before the readings. The test and self-analysis was amusing and interesting, and yes I can see using it with students.
  • What are your areas of personal strength?
    My areas of personal strength are visual/spatial with a score of 45 followed by intrapersonal with a score of 37 and body/kinaesthetic with a score of 35.
  • How should learning be structured to best meet your personal needs? What needs to occur in the teaching-learning process to help develop your other intelligences?
    As a visual/spatial learner I am good at imagining things, drawing, designing, creating and building things. As an intrapersonal learner I like to work alone and pursue goals and my own interests. I have a sense of self and like to follow my instincts. As a bodily/kinaesthetic learner I am good at sports.
    Learning should be structured so that I can create and build. I am happiest participating in projects that involve a physical element of construction. I enjoy being original as I follow my own vision. Following the crowd is boring and uninspiring for me.
  • What did you discover? Are you surprised at your findings? Would you be surprised at your student's findings? Would this impact your choices for teaching and technology? How?
    No I wasn't surprised at my findings. I really do know my own strengths and weaknesses. I don't think I'd be surprised at my student's findings. I would expect a wide variety of intelligences. It would be good to have students take this test early into a course. Teachers would then know the learning intelligence for each student, and be able to design appropriate learning activities.
    I also think it beneficial for students to know their own learning intelligence. It will enable them to be more successful by focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

The Net Generation
  • Take a look at the quote from Tapscott. Consider your own teaching style and philosophy of treaching. Are you prepared to assist students on this 'different route'. If yes, how? If not, what might need to change?
    Yes I am prepared to assist students in this new teaching style. The net generation is very comfortable with technology. They see the world as a more connected space where communication and networking is the norm. They think in hypertext and like to do things quickly. They are equipped with better technology than most schools. Students are ready for constructivism. It is up to schools and teachers to stay current with technology and to use it to support learning. I believe the skills of the net generation are essential for constructivism.
    My teaching style has been a combination of direct instruction and exploration depending on the course. This coming year, I plan to make a major shift towards constructivism. I plan for the first time to include an EPSS in one course and to incorporate individual discovery learning in another.

Project Based Learning - I - search and WebQuests
  • Is the future here? If yes, how is that the case (site examples)? If not, why not?
  • What do you think about his ideas?
  • How far away or close to this idea are we, in 2007?
    Mackenzie was a little ahead of his time considering that his article was written in 1994.Is the future here? Almost! The stage is set with technology, but I’m not sure if the actors have learned how to do their part. Students are very comfortable with technology but truthfully have very little skill in how to assimilate knowledge. They simply don’t have the research skills. Teachers are realizing that students need direction in this area and Mackenzie has provided good strategies. I particularly liked his advice for developing a constructive classroom and the descriptors for constructivist teachers. These in themselves will help guide students in the acquisition of knowledge.His ideas are right on for today’s learner and as such, are also right for today’s teachers. Teachers need to know how to navigate the technological wave as much as students.

Designing Web-based Learning
  • "…You may have noticed that the first three stages to Web-Use Nirvana had to do with your personal and professional growth. The middle chunk all relate to curriculum design. What ever happened to teaching, with kids, in a classroom?" And then he asks "…So what is the New Job for Teachers?".
    I don’t believe that improving technology, or shifts in educational pedagogy change what we do as a job. I believe teaching is more than developing acquired knowledge. It is about personal growth and all
    that it encompasses. Teachers are mentors and role models as much as instructors. Modeling how to learn is just one of the many roles teachers have today.
    I really liked what Maureen MacIssac said in a previous post about how as a teacher she learns something new everyday and that in today’s classroom there are so many resources and so much information to teach, we have to model for our students how to
    be good learners. I have always felt the same and have always enjoyed the fact that each day brings with it a chance for me to learn something new.
    March’s “Ten Stages of Working the Web for Education” outlines how to use the web, how to become familiar with it so that we can make use of its learning potential. We all have varying levels of comfort with the web and that is ok. I will never in my lifetime expect to
    know all there is to know about web, computers and its applications. How could anyone keep up with all the advancements? But I do want to acquire the skill to be able to pursue what interests me, to aquire the technology that helps me to be better at what I do, and I believe that is what is good about computers and technology. We have options for learning today which were not available a mere ten years ago. How does today’s web affect our jobs? I believe that it makes teaching much more exciting. It most definitely provides way more options and gives us much more to think about and most definitely something new to learn about each day.
Online Teaching and E-Moderating
  • What characteristics would you want to see? Why?
  1. Organization is the most the most important charcteristic for me. All material must be ready, accessible,
    relevant and meaningful. A course/website that is organized breeds confidence and credibility.
  2. The moderator should model what is expected of the student.
  3. I really like posted assignment dates and submission reminders.
  4. Provide a means to submit assignments and achnowlledgement of submission.
  5. I prefer individual assignments related to website design.
  6. A moderator must give a sense of always being available. I liked the way Diane stepped in when a question arose to a broken link or other issue, and how fast she addressed the problem. I felt that we were able to do our thing and that she was quietly looking out for us.
  • How would you get this information?
    Online websites, discussion forums, email.
  • What would I need to know?
    I would need to know that I was keeping on task. There is some uncertainty within online courses as to where a student stands. I appreciated when assignment perimeters were given. Returning assignments before the next submitted helps in knowing what adjustments are needed.
  • What would frustrate me?
    Lack of organization.
My initial thought on creating an e-portfolio was that I didn’t want to do it. I am a private person and just didn’t think that I would like sharing my inner thoughts or personal information with others. As I read about e-portfolios and looked at samples created by professors and teachers, I began to find a direction acceptable for me. I decided to create an e-portfolio with the goal of making it available for students on my school website. Much of what is in the portfolio pertains to my experiences as they relate to my subject area. Once started, I actually enjoyed working on the portfolio.

Group Work
Networking with others is always a great learning experience. I am a project oriented person so there is rarely a time that I am not working on something. My normal approach for project work is to seek out expertise as the need arises. In the case of group work as in assignments 2 and 3 of this course, the expertise was always present in the group. The fact that the three of us brought something a little different to the table made for a good learning experience. It took a little while to define our topic, but once chosen, we worked very hard on creating the best possible product. We began our discussions in the WebCT chat rooms but soon realized that wiki would be a better medium for interaction. This project enabled me to put into practice much of what was learned in the course. I was learning on the run at times. Using wiki for discussion and sharing of data was a great idea. It forced me to really get familiar with the format and now I have a valuable new learning tool. I was also able to learn about inspiration by working through the creation of the concept map and graphical representation for our website. My group mates set up a webquest and used adobe captivate to create animated demonstrations, so I can thank them for showing me these additional learning tools.