Spring 2015 has been an exciting semester. Taking classes this spring has kept me busy, without a doubt. Fortunately my wife and my principal both understand and support the work I am doing for the BSU M.E.T. program, and that makes it so much easier.
EDTECH 501 has gotten me off to a good start for this degree program. Anthony Saba has done a great job of preparing me to finish all of the other classes that will be coming my way in the next couple of years. He and my classmates introduced me to a lot of new tools, and I imagine that I will be introduced to many more in this program. That is why I picked the image of the stones. I am building knowledge one stone at a time. All of the stones in the pile represent the tools I know exist, but I don’t know how to utilize…yet. I have a lot of building left to do, and I am looking forward to it!
The new-to-me technologies that presented the biggest challenge for me was anything involving online meetings and talking. Odd as that sounds, I have not taken online courses or meetings where I needed to talk. Chat has always worked. So, I don’t have a good microphone. It is also hard for me to hear the others speak through my headphones or the computer speakers. These audio problems made the synchronous meetings less than enjoyable. There was one other issue with the meetings. Being an online audio meeting newbie meant that I was never sure what the others were hearing when I talked, or if they were hearing me at all. It felt a lot like the “can you hear me now” commercial.
The other challenge had nothing to do with technology. Complying to the APA standards in my writing kept me on my toes. I have not had to write any such papers since I was last in school, back when we were using stone tablets and chisels. A few things have changed since then, and I had a hard time keeping track of where to use “and” and where to use “&”. I’m sure a separate class on just the APA standards is needed to comprehend them, but I’m pretty sure I would avoid taking such a class.
In order to avoid future audio problems, I have ordered a Blue Microphones Snowball mic and headphones because so many of my classmates highly recommend them. The audio portion of the meetings and VoiceThread will be much easier to complete and participate with the right equipment. Also, the new mic and headphones should provide at least a little confidence boost when I next participate in a meeting where audio is required.
How does one cope with the APA standards? Actually, I didn’t really need help coping, but I did need help. Anthony came through with Zotero and with the sample pages. I found that Zotero was extremely helpful in coming up with citations that almost followed the standards. “Almost” was all I needed. Zotero’s citations provide the correct format with a few minor exceptions. It was easy to compare their entries with the APA publication manual and end up with the correct format. Finding the correct format from scratch was not as easy. I have already used Zotero in completing my work for EDTECH 503, and I’m sure I’ll need it for future classes. The sample pages provided a great reference, as well, since they were exemplars of what we needed to produce.
One of my favorite features in this class is that we got to select our own topics for many of the artifacts. I picked topics that I enjoy and can put to use, naturally, so I liked them all. I think the project I put together for “Rethinking the Roles of Teachers” is the one that turned out the best. It provides the research information in a document and a slide show to use for professional development. There is even a game to use when assessing learning. Preparing these objects was enjoyable and educational to me, but the main reason that I picked this artifact is because I believe that it summarizes the whole reason I am pursuing the M.E.T. degree. The classroom is changing. Our students are changing. Research on what works is surfacing. Teachers need to rethink our approach if we want to keep our classrooms relevant and useful to our students.
The EDTECH 501 Attitude
I plan to take my EDTECH 501 attitude and put it to use when training staff members and directing my bands. What is an EDTECH 501 attitude? It includes several things. First, I will look at things with fresh eyes. The Evaluation Survey forced me to view things in ways I haven’t viewed them in a long time. It also made me consider things that I have never considered. It is hard to see the big picture when I am stuck in the middle of the picture. I plan to pull back at times so that I can see the big picture and work with it, instead of focusing on my little section of the picture.
Another perspective included in this attitude involves new and old technologies. I had to use some things in this class that I used years ago and thought I’d never touch again. For example, my first experience with things like Google Docs was not positive. It didn’t provide enough features for me at the time. Now they have made improvements and additions such that it is a strong enough program for the applications I need. Had it not been for this class, though, I wouldn’t have tried it again. Another example includes new tools. Megan introduced Thinglink to the class, and I really enjoy it. It allows for creating image maps with popups without having to write the HTML coding. These two examples represent the experiences I had in EDTECH 501 that will shape my attitude towards new (and old) technologies that I meet in the future.
Last but not least, I have a new attitude towards social networking. I do not participate in social networking and I don’t believe teachers at my level (K-12) should follow/be followed by their students. This is based on the legal issues that will no doubt come up and the safety and privacy of students. So, I have not used any such tools until now. Google+ was hard to get used to because of so much happening in so many places at once. Once I got used to it, though, it was very helpful in this online course setting. Working with classmates in person is always beneficial because of the peer support that is available. It was hard to get together with all the others in this class, though, particularly My, Moni, Sara and Anthony. Google+ provided a good alternative, and the feedback I received from everyone through Google+ played a big part in what I learned from the class.