It is hard to believe this semester is over and I have finished all of my university classes. It honestly seems like yesterday when I started my final semester. I admit at the beginning of ECMP 455 class, I was nervous and unsure if I could handle the course load and assignments. I look back now and I am so glad I undertook the challenge and tried something new. I have never considered myself confident using technology and often would choose to avoid it. This class made me realize that I avoid technology because it is new and always changing. It is scary to me because I am unsure of the unknown. I have learned that a person needs to become completely immersed into it in order to fully understand and gain confidence in using it. I have always used technology in my personal life, yet I rarely thought about its role in education.
I have grown a lot since ECMP 355, not only with the skills I have acquired for using technology, but in my outlook as well. My understanding and values of using technology have changed in the past two years. I remember taking the last ECMP class and thinking of how good it would be to learn more skills for my benefit. On the other hand, this semester was strictly focused on learning how to incorporate technology into the classroom.
This class challenged me to learn new skills and explore new tools associated with technology. I think the style of an online class forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me the chance to try new things within the boundaries and support of my personal learning network. I think if someone asked me to do these assignments previous to this class, I probably would have laughed because I never thought I could do it.
I have enjoyed all the assignments in this class because they fostered my personal growth and skill development. The assignments supported my learning needs by allowing me to work at my own comfort level and by building on my technological skills. These assignments encouraged me to further my learning and helped build my confidence with technology. I enjoyed having the freedom to choose the topic of each assignment based on my personal interests.
The assignments were relevant and useful for teaching. For example, creating our personal blogfolio is a tool to show our professional reflections while we learned how to use it in the classroom setting. I enjoyed having the choice to create an idea for our major project. for my major project, I decided to challenge myself by teaching students an actual project. I know from working with the students I have learned a lot about the advantages and challenges when creating digital stories. As well, I now have an experience to reflect on for future lesson plans. This project challenged me to learn a new skill as well as to realize the value in collaborating with others to create a successful project. After completion of this assignment, I fully understand the benefits of including technology in the classroom.
During this semester, I have developed a strong personal learning network by communicating with other educators with tools like Twitter, Skype, educational blogs and email. I have learned in this class how important collaborating and sharing resources with people is for a successful learning outcome with technology. I have only started building my PLN and I know it will gradually grow with more years of teaching. I realize having a strong PLN is beneficial just knowing someone is there to support you and offer advice for any problems you face.
Overall, I have not had many challenges with using technology this semester. The major problem I faced was finding enough time to spend exploring and teaching myself about new programs and tools. I enjoyed having the challenge to learn new things, but it was always time consuming to not only teach yourself something new, but then taking the time to reflect on it. I learned how to use various programs and tools in this class including Google Apps, Twitter, Elluminate, Delicious, Wikis, Photo Story 3 and Videos. I learned new skills like how to upload videos to You Tube and embed videos onto my blog. As well, I learned to acknowledge and reflect on my digital identity and the footprints I leave in the world. The most important thing I have learned from this class is I am capable of using technology if I believe in myself and allow enough time for me to learn these new skills. There are many tools and programs I would like to explore and learn more about when I have extra time including Google Earth, Audacity, Animoto and Bubblr. Another challenge I had taking this class was conflicting schedules. For my mentorship projects and my major project, it was always difficult to find time which worked for both myself and the students. This caused the projects to take more time then originally allotted.
This class thoroughly exposed me to the expanding world of technology while allowing me to develop my technological skills on both a personal and professional level. My goal for this class was to gain confidence using and teaching technology to young students. I believe I have reached this goal, but not entirely on my own. My confidence has expanded through my exploration and learning in this semester. I will take the knowledge and resources from ECMP 455 and use it in my classroom. I want to thank Alec and Dean for their wonderful classes, as well as my personal learning network. Their advice and support have helped me to learn and grow as a young professional during this semester.
I want to share this quote, which reflects my feelings for teaching and learning with technology:
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”
~ Anatole France