Week 5 Reflections

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Week 5 Reflections

  1. 1. Week 5 Reflections 1) What outcomes had you envisioned for this course? Did you achieve those outcomes? Did the actual course outcomes align with those that you envisioned? Before I began this course I didn’t realize that it would focus on technology. Therefore, my original expectations were not aligned with the course objectives. Had I known the focus was on technology, I think I would have had slightly different expectations. I have learned a lot, but I would have liked more hands-on experience with a wider variety of Web 2.0 tools. Creating a blog was fun and easy; I had no idea it was so simple. I brushed up on a few other skills along the way as well. For example, it’s been awhile since I have created charts, and I needed the refresher. The articles that we read were for the most part informative, although some of the selections were redundant (Marc Prensky) and others were dated. Familiarizing myself with the STaR Chart and the Long Range Plan was beneficial. I now know what we should all be working towards. Something that I would not envision for this course was the misuse of the discussion board. I have to say I found very little value in responding to others’ quotes. I had flashbacks to the eighth grade when we would have to write vocabulary definitions and then use those words in sentences to show that we knew what they meant. It wasn’t good instruction then, it isn’t now, and it never will be. It was not a substantive assignment and due to the quantity, most of us were just hammering it out without a lot of reflection. That being said, (and yes, I had to say it) overall, I do have some new technology knowledge along with the realization that I have much more to learn. 2) To the extent that you achieved the outcomes, are they still relevant to the work that you do in your school? Why or why not? I am currently not working in a school setting. However, I am employed at a regional educational service center and technology proficiency is very important and becoming increasingly more so. Many of our districts are requesting 24/7 access to the professional development that they need. Podcasts, wikis, nings, online studies, etc. will be used more and more in the future. I think for me, this course brought to the forefront the realization of how many tools are available, and how much training I personally need in order to use them to enhance my own presentation capabilities. So, while I did achieve the expected outcomes of this course, I feel that I have much more work ahead of me. I specifically need more training in podcasts and would like very much to get a wiki up for my dyslexia contacts. While this has the potential to be a great asset, in our area many schools block access to wikis, so I’m not sure how effective it will be for districts until they revisit their acceptable use policies and make these resources available to their teachers. 3) What outcomes did you not achieve? What prevented you from achieving them? As stated earlier, I feel that I did achieve the outcomes that were set forth in this course up to this point. As far as the outcomes that I had originally envisioned they were based on a traditional instructional leadership course, not one that was focused on technology. I would have liked to have learned more about helping teachers to identify their own instructional needs, strengths and weakness, and what to do to help them address the areas of need and how to lead them to use their strengths to enhance their instruction and to be leaders themselves. To me that is what instructional leadership is all about. I would like to go back and spend some time researching and trying out some of the things that the technology
  2. 2. articles discussed. Time was such a huge factor in this class that I don’t feel that I truly internalized the information. 4) Were you successful in carrying out the course assignments? If not, what prevented or discouraged you? I feel that I was successful in carrying out the course assignments. As with any course I followed the rubric and completed what was expected as I understood it. I don’t feel that some of the work was my best. The first two weeks this was due to the quantity. Those assignments were very long and because I, like everyone else, have many other responsibilities, it was all I could do to just get finished. The third week’s assignment was not long, but it was vague and I was not comfortable with the lack of clarity I had for the expectation. The fourth week’s assignment again, was vague, and I only guessed at what was expected. As I spoke to others in this class, I found no one that had a clear idea of what this action plan was supposed to actually look like. It would have been nice to have an example. I think that in a face-to-face class examples would have been given, and it’s really a simple process to do the same for online students. I focused on the district’s technology plan, their STaR Chart data and the goals of the Long-Range Plan. I tried to align those and identify the gaps in order to make a plan that based on my experience as a teacher and knowledge gained from this course would move the district forward. Finally, as I’m working on this particular assignment, I’m finding some of these questions easier to expound on than others as I strive to reach the required word count. I’m finding some redundancies here as well. While it’s nice to have guiding questions, expecting a certain number of words from someone’s reflections is not in line with an authentic assessment. 5) What did you learn from this course…about yourself, your technology and leadership skills, and your attitudes? This class had many good things to offer. Most of the articles were informative and the practical experiences that I had, were valuable. However, the quantity, lack of clarity, and constantly changing information created a dark cloud over this course, and to be perfectly honest, I will not remember it fondly. I came very close to dropping this course. I felt that the quantity of work along with the initial disorganization were more than I could handle at this particular time. I decided to stick with it and just divide and conquer. I learned not to work ahead, because things seemed to be so up in the air. That is not how I normally handle big projects. I usually do as much as I can as soon as I can. But again, because of the volume and slow information dissemination, that wasn’t the best way to complete the tasks for this class. So, I can say that I learned another approach of completing work…although I’ll avoid this at all costs, because it is not conducive to my working style and I found it to be unnecessarily stressful. As far as the technology goes, as stated earlier, I found that while I learned a lot, I have much, much more to learn. This class has given me a better idea of what I do need to know and what is available to me. My attitude about technology is that once I know how to use something, I’m committed and will utilize it in the most effective way that I can. I don’t think that technology leadership skills need to be separated from any other leadership skills. In the roundtable interviews it was stated several times that administrators need to model these skills and not just talk about them. I think that’s true with just about anything that an administrator does. It’s as true for them as it is for teachers and students. 6) What is the educational value of blogs and blogging to the 21st century learner? The educational value of blogs is varied. My experience is with elementary students, so I
  3. 3. will approach this question from that vantage point. Most educators tend to think of blogs as being for secondary students. However, I think that with the right guidance they can be very valuable for elementary students. We all know that students who write with a purpose other than for a grade produce better work. Writing for a blog gives students a purpose and an audience. Writing for the “blog audience” can fill the requirements for class work, much as it has in this class, and give students a greater sense of purpose in knowing that others can view their work. Many parents don’t have time to come to school and see their child’s published works on display. Allowing students to create blogs and publish their class work there will help to remedy this. Educators also know the value of having students respond to others’ writing. Students can go to a classmate’s blog and reflect and respond in writing to these blogs. Therefore, I think the major value of blogs in elementary school is to enhance writing instruction and writing experiences. If we allow our students to use these tools to do what they’ve always done, I think we’ll see not only that they are able to keep up with current technology, but in many cases their experiences will be richer. 7) What are the concerns of blogs and blogging in education? The primary concern with blogs is security. If a blog is not regulated, anyone can post to it or become a follower. Schools could avoid this issue by creating their own “in house” blogging service or intranets. Another issue is teacher monitoring. It could be very time-consuming for teachers to monitor blogs that are being used to publish class work. As students post their work and others respond, the sheer volume of reading a teacher would have to do could become impossible to keep up with. Finally, as most of us know, equity of access is a huge issue for all types of technology. Many students do not have internet access at home and would only be able to participate in a blogging community while at school. If teachers were forced to allow class time for this, it would cut into instructional time and also limit the benefits of blogging. I am optimistic that solutions to these problems will surface as schools move to increase the integration of technology into classrooms. I’m sure there was a time when providing every student with a textbook seemed like an insurmountable task too. 8) How can you use blogging to communicate with school stakeholders? In my area it is not possible to use blogging to communicate with school stakeholders through their districts. Most blogs are blocked and this is a shame. The alternatives to blocking that were discussed in this week’s lecture, such as hosting a blog service and utilizing intranets should be seriously considered by schools. If this were available, I think it would be a great tool to use to post new happenings, articles, links, presentations, etc. Teachers could clarify assignment directions and offer resources allowing parents to understand the assignments and offer guidance to their children as they work on projects at home. Stakeholders would be able to post comments, ask questions, and offer their general expertise for a particular topic. I can envision this putting an end to miscommunications as everyone involved would have the exact same information. Along those same lines, information could be updated easily; giving all those involved the most up to date information. I wish the professors of this course had utilized a blog themselves. It would have been the perfect tool to keep everyone updated on changes and clarifications of assignments.

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