This is the final week of ETAP640, and I am very relieved that I have gotten this far! I am fairly certain that all of us in this course have accomplished more than we ever thought possible!
Maree could not have said it better, it has been an “incredible journey,” one with a beginning, middle and end. And, yes I am exhausted, to put it mildly. It is amazing what one can do if motivated.
One very obvious sign that this course is coming to and end, is that I need to scroll very far down on the home page to get to the this week’s module. This was a great reminder of how much material we have covered over these past few months in a fairly short amount of time, very impressive! No doubt there was quality learning taking place throughout every module! Many hours were spent watching videos, reading articles, discussion posts, and developing our courses! I have never met Alex, our instructor, but I certainly feel like I have. Her presence was felt in every aspect of the course! It was very interesting to observe when our she would get involved in the discussion forums, and most of the time it was to bring them to a higher level, by forcing us to “dig deeper,” one of her favorite terms. She continuously challenged us throughout the course to take our learning to the next level, and it she definitely got good results!
But, the most obvious sign that the course is ending, is how far along we have all come regarding the creation of our courses. It seems like yesterday when they were nothing but mere shells. We have all developed and created well-designed, engaging courses! I have been very impressed by the creativity of my peers.
There were many times that I had my doubts as to whether I was going to be able to keep up with the workload, course design activities, etc., but somehow 3 months later, everything seems like it has fallen into place for the most part. No doubt there were many speed bumps along the way, but Alex was very helpful in working many of them out when assistance was needed!
So what knowledge did I gain? And how am measuring that knowledge transfer has taken place?
I will start with the web 2.0 tools we utilized during the course since engaging with them those first few weeks was a requirement. Getting everything properly configured (thank heavens for Alex’s engaging videos), were the first challenges I encountered in the beginning. Who would have thought it was going to be so involved. I really loved using the web 2.0 tools in the course, Diigo, VoiceThread, Edublog, etc., and found them to great learning tools that kept me engaged thought out the course. I plan on staying in touch with the Diigo community once this course ends. This will allow me to stay current with regard to educational topics, trends, etc.
The detailed videos throughout the course were indispensable. I learned an enormous amount from them and they were one of the reasons I was successful in developing and designing my course. They taught me how to use Moodle, the learning management system that our courses are designed in, which is another great benefit of this course. Of course the proof is in the pudding, but I am fairly confident that my attempt to create a worthwhile, engaging online class was successful. Extra added benefit is being able to zip up the class and take it with me!
One of the most important learning experience for me,was just being an active participant (student ) in this course, since it was such an excellent model of a “rich and robust teaching and learning environment.” There were abundant opportunities for student-student and student-instructor interaction since the course was designed to be learner, student and knowledge centered. The course promoted a “strong sense of class community” from day one with the numerous ice-breaking activities. I learned first hand about “teaching presence,” and the importance of promoting lively discussion forums that encourage healthy discourse. I have learned from the course readings and from direct experience in this course, how the quality and quantity of teaching presence directly relates to a sense of community in the course. Larry Regan stated in his video on student engagement, “ Students feel the connection best with other students and the professor when engagement comes early and often.” I really learned the importance of this as a student in this course and tried to emulate this “best practice” in my online course by creating a sense of class community early on and throughout the course.
After doing a quick review of the Seven Principles for Good Practice (Chickering and Gamson), there is no doubt that our class incorporated all of these principles on a regular basis which resulted in a very effective and engaging learning environment where the students feel safe and are comfortable expressing themselves.
- Good practice encourages student-faculty contact.
- Good practice encourages cooperation among students.
- Good practice encourages active learning
- Good practice gives prompt feedback.
- Good practice emphasizes time on task.
- Good practice communicates high expectations.
- Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
After reading and reflecting on Anne’s post this week on Michael Wesch’s “Vision of Students Today,” what stood out most for me, is that the students in the YouTube video are not really that different in what they want (need) from an education compared to what most of us in this course want (need) from an education. An educational experience that is relevant, student-centered, and engaging, and one that fosters learning in a supportive environment is what most students desire. Being able to participate in collaborative and active learning, and sharing what we have learned is what makes education meaningful and fosters learning. It sounds so simple, yet it is certainly not the norm. Many web 2.0 tools are designed for student engagement, and they should be leveraged as much as possible.
From what I learned over the past few months, I was able to move from theory to practice and design an engaging, student/knowledge-centered course that encourages self-directed learning. This is a significant accomplishment and clearly illustrates some of the things I have learned from being a student in this course!
What would have helped your learning more?
Great question, and like Kelly, I was very overwhelmed with the magnitude of assignments per module. I wondered a few times how many of us in the class were working full-time. Since the course is very demanding and time intensive making the time commitment should be well thought out to ensure you will be successful in the course; juggling a full-time job and managing the course workload is not for the faint of heart.
Having a few less assignments per module may have aided in my learning. This would have allowed me to focus more. A few times I didn’t know where to start. I also found some of the module layouts confusing. I actually missed a few assignments which was unusual for me. I am not sure if it was due to being overwhelmed, or the design of how the modules were structured. I like looking in one place to see what is required for the week, and not in a few different places. I also knew fairly early on that I would not be able to do everything 100% , just not enough hours in the day. Therefore, I found myself not participating in the discussion questions as much as I would have liked in order to get the other assignments done. This was unfortunate, but reality for me. Staying focused and managing my time well, were key to my success in this course!
And, how do you feel now?
Looking back, I learned an incredible amount and am feeling very positive about all of my accomplishments. My golf game suffered, but small sacrifice for what I gained, and if this course assists me with employment opportunities in the instructional design field, then I will be extremely grateful!!
Now back to revising my Women & Money Management course and incorporating all the changes from the feedback! Hopefully I can make the deadline!