(CEP 810: Teaching for Understanding with Technology; CEP 811: Adapting Innovative Technologies in Education; CEP 812: Applying Educational Technology to Issues of Practice)
During the first summer of the MAET (Master of Arts in Educational Technology) cohort, we covered a tremendous amount of material and territory. Between learning about and experiencing quickfires, we also explored and further developed our Professional Learning Network and how we can use that type of network to conquer a task that we initially thought impossible. We explored the power of questions and their ability to fan the flames of students’ passion for learning. As a cohort, we studied and then put on a Maker Faire that was attended by over 100 students on less than a week’s notice. In addition to this, we studied classroom design and created a prototype design of what we thought the best learning environment for our students would be. During the at-home portion, we worked on a project where we tackled Wicked Problems in groups and came up with the best possible solutions that we presented to our cohort when we came back together. While all of that was happening, we also began a blog on WordPress that we would use throughout our MAET program.
As the title implies, this course revolved around the different types of assessments and how to utilize them effectively in an electronic context (either an online class or online elements for a face to face class). Our two major projects were a Formative Assessment and a rubric that can be utilized to assess our assessments (formative or summative). We explored a wealth of ideas from the need to show transference of knowledge to assessing critical thinking; from providing constant actionable feedback throughout the assessment to clearly defining goals and desired outcomes; and from accommodating students’ special needs to infusing student choice among many other concepts. One of my biggest takeaways seems obvious but it points to a need for intentionality. If I am going to assess something, I need to make certain that I am teaching it.
This course challenged me to be more cognizant of the various factors that relate to the student’s experiences within a course. From the concept of cognitive load to make sure everything was accessible to all students, I was challenged to have a reason behind every decision that I make for a lesson rather than just put something together because I had seen it done or it is something I would enjoy. Over the course of the semester, I was given a paradigm through which I can determine the efficacy of a variety of tech tools in terms of the usefulness for the diverse population of learners that I work with. Additionally, we discussed multiple concepts (the most noteworthy being cognitive load and flow) that need to be considered as lessons are designed to maximize student learning.
This course was possible the most altering of the courses that I took. Most of the other courses were simply course corrections where I took the opportunity to become better at what I was already doing. This course changed how I design learning experiences almost completely. The most obvious place this manifests is in the use of the Stanford Design Thinking model. As obvious as it seems now to do, I rarely started trying to figure out where my students were and then determine where they needed to be. I wasn’t empathetic. I just took what I knew they had to know from State standards and marched them to understanding it sometimes with weeping and gnashing of teeth. As I followed the steps (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test), I realized that much of the occasional pushback was my lack of effort on the front end of the model (empathize and then define). Now, any initiative I employ with our teachers flows through this model starting where it should…empathizing.
This course came at a welcome time as I was starting to develop online professional development for our teachers. The course revolved around creating an intentional, well thought out course in an online environment. We began with choosing our CMS (LMS for NC folks) intentionally. Next, we thought through the variety of important elements such as communication plan, assessments, lesson delivery, and overall design. We started off looking at rubrics that can be used to assess online courses. This provided me with a skeleton upon which to build the course. As part of our discussions, we looked at the many variations that online learning can take and the affordances and complications of each. Additionally, we looked at online assessments. Finally, we thought about how UDL concepts can be embedded into online courses.
(CEP 800: Learning in School & Other Settings; CEP 815: Technology and Leadership; CEP 822: Approaches to Educational Research)
During my second summer of the MAET cohort, we tackled a multitude of different tasks and concepts. In an attempt to understand how we understand, we dove into a multitude of different learning theories that could inform a research project that we chose that would help us to get a grasp of how someone goes about reaching understanding. Additionally, we had the opportunity to develop, test out, and then deliver a professional development workshop in Lansing attended by local teachers. In addition to this, we also developed grant proposals that we could use to equip our schools with items that we felt that would accentuate the learning environments for our students. We also read and looked for ways that Willingham’s When Can You Trust the Experts? Could be utilized in our environment. In my case, I have used it to develop a method for teachers to request new technology tools. They have to dig through the minutiae to get to the relevant facts about whether there is proof of the tool’s efficacy. We also recruited people to participate as experts in a webinar that was broadcasted live including a Twitter backchannel.
During the capstone course, the majority of my time has been spent reflecting back on what I have experienced, learned, and created over my time in the MAET program while spinning it all forward with a view towards what my future holds in light of what I have learned and how my thinking has changed over time. Perhaps the most significant step in this direction was the synthesis essay that required me to look at how the program has changed me over time. Additionally, the Showcase required me to sift through the work that I have completed and chosen the projects that stood out the most to me as objects that show skills that I have learned that I can spin forward into my future occupation.