Applying Educational Technology Portfolio Reflection

In this session particularly, we needed to be the drivers of our own learning because the main graded assignment, our ePortfolio, was due at the end of the course. We did have instructional guides such as the COVA book and online resources, weekly Zoom meetings with Dr. Reed, weekly blog post prompts and weekly discussion board prompts. But we were given a lot a freedom so that there would be time to design the ePortfolio to be turned in at the end of the session. One element of this course that I really enjoyed was that we were to build a team of classmates with which to collaborate. My team is made up of some strong learners and we were able to push each other with positive encouragement. One of my group members took the initiative to create a Slack for us, and that has been an effective form of communication. I look forward to continuing to work with my group throughout the remainder of the program. Beyond our collaboration cohort, we also have the support of our other classmates. I certainly enjoy the element of proceeding through a program with the same cadre of students. We are getting to know each other and are able to provide encouragement through our weekly discussion board posts. One goal of mine is to improve on the feed forward to my classmates. While I am able to give positive encouragement, I do not feel as confident in the area of providing suggestions or asking questions about a classmate’s discussion post or product yet.  I understand that developing the feed forward skill is an important facet of developing leadership ability, so I will aim to improve.

I have learned so much during this five week session of Applying Educational Technology Portfolio, EDLD 5303, the third course in our Digital Learning and Leading Master’s program at Lamar University! Although our five-week sessions seem to pass at warp speed, we learn so much. 

In this session particularly, we needed to be the drivers of our own learning because the main graded assignment, our ePortfolio, was due at the end of the course.

  • We had instructional guides:
    • the COVA book
    • online resources
    • weekly Zoom meetings with Dr. Reed
    • weekly blog post prompts
    • weekly discussion board prompts

Also we were given a lot a freedom so that there would be time to design the ePortfolio to be turned in at the end of the session. One element of this course that I really enjoyed was that we were to build a team of classmates with which to collaborate. My team is made up of some strong learners and we were able to push each other with positive encouragement. One of my group members took the initiative to create a Slack for us, and that has been an effective form of communication. I look forward to continuing to work with my group throughout the remainder of the program. Beyond our collaboration cohort, we also have the support of our other classmates. I certainly enjoy the social support factor of proceeding through a program with the same cadre of students. We are getting to know each other and are able to provide encouragement through our weekly discussion board posts. One goal of mine is to improve on the feed forward to my classmates. While I am able to give positive encouragement, I do not feel as confident in the area of providing suggestions or asking questions about a classmate’s discussion post or product yet.  I understand that developing the feed forward skill is an important facet of developing leadership ability, so I will aim to improve.

I felt that I had a good start to the minimum expectations of the ePortfolio when we started this session. There were a couple of specific elements that I needed to add, such as a section for Archives, and to ensure that commenting was enabled. I did some research about enabling comments on WordPress, and for the security of my site, I decided to keep the feature that a user must login with a WordPress or social media account to be able to leave a comment. Also I became heavily engaged in tagging blog posts after I created a tag cloud. I’m still floundering a bit between the idea of categories and tags, but after some reading I understand that categories are broad while tags are more specific. For now I will leave both active on my site and perhaps remove one later as it seems to make my site a little bit busy. 

After reviewing some required resources, we were asked to create a discussion post about the reasons for creating ePortfolios. My thoughts are shared in this blog post called Process Before Product.

Who Owns the Portfolio, Who Owns the Ideas was a blog post modified from a discussion post based on that question. In that section of our course, I was fascinated to learn about the Domain of One’s Own movement.

We were asked to evaluate our ePortfolio platform to determine if it would be robust enough to carry us through the entire DLL program. Also we were to consider if the current platform we are using would be able to support future projects should we continue to use the ePortfolio beyond our time in the DLL program. I certainly intend to continue building upon and developing my ePortfolio in the WordPress platform throughout my career. Here are my ideas about various ePortfolio platforms.

A major portion of our learning this session was to read the COVA book written by Dr. Harapnuik, Dr. Thibodeaux, and Dr. Cummings. Reading this book absolutely helped solidify some ideas about choice, ownership, voice and authentic learning for me. After reading the book, I chose to create a mini blog post series about the elements of the COVA approach. In those posts, I included some notes about the work and ideas of other leading educators regarding choice, ownership, voice, and authentic learning. As I wrote and researched, I grappled with two questions.

1. If constructivist theories and ideas about authentic learning are not new, and they are taught to prospective teachers and leaders in preparation programs, and supported by research then why is our current public education system so driven by the specificity of standards and accountability via assessment?

If I persist with this line of thinking for very long, I become disheartened and negative. I came across a few pieces of information that have somewhat reassured me. In a Learner’s Mindset video, Dr. Thibodeaux and Dr. Harapnuik shared that while individuals do not have the means to overhaul the entire complex education system, teachers do have the means to develop their instruction to become more authentic one project at a time in their classroom. In the 4 Keys to CSLE + COVA video Dr. Harpnuik expressed that although the current education system is working, the real goal is to see what can improve.  Further, I listened to a TeachThought podcast with Jared Cooney Horvath and David Bott, the authors of 10 Things Schools Get Wrong (and how we can get them right). They began the book with a similar idea. “The education system is not broken. Schools are succeeding.

2. How can teachers of early learners and intermediate elementary students best create significant learning environments? Young learners still have the natural inquisitiveness, unbridled imagination and drive to learn, but they also need to learn to read and count. 

These are ideas that I’m looking forward to exploring more in the next class session, Creating Significant Learning Environments, EDLD 5313.

Note: It was my original intent to include products of various digital tools within my COVA Blog Post Series. I had minimal responses to my first two attempts, which were a Flipgrid on student voice (posted in Student Lounge, Facebook & Twitter) and a question about ePortfolios on Facebook. Clearly I have not mastered crowdsourcing yet. That is another goal.

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