In October, 2016, I decided to go back to school to work on getting my Master’s Degree through Lamar University. I had been watching this program for a couple years before I decided to go for it, and I’m so glad I did! The course work is exciting, relevant to what I teach, and will benefit not only my students, but my entire school district. The program is intense, but I enjoy the challenge and the work. It also highlighted to me just how fortunate I am to have started this journey working in a school district that is already putting into practice some of the ideas I am learning about in this very forward-thinking program.
Hey, Kanawaha County Schools KCS Learning 20/20 and Apple Vanguard Team!
So, here’s my coursework for the EDLD Program thus far:
EDLD 5302 — Concepts of Educational Technology
This course was my introduction to the Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University. We started out by reading the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and creating our own Growth Mindset plan. Though I was familiar with the Growth Mindset before this course, through this course, I learned about the need to balance Growth Mindset with rigor to produce the best results — especially in a learning environment. I also started this e-Portfolio, developed my Professional Learning Network (PLN), and began blogging about my experiences in the Lamar Digital Learning and Leading program. This course provided me with the resources to begin my journey toward leadership in education by providing me a space to share my work (Voice), decide how I want to share it (Choice), and when I graduate, it will continue to be relevant as my professional portfolio (Ownership), plus, the act of simply creating resources for this portfolio is authentic learning in and of itself. I was originally kind of intimidated by this course because we didn’t have specific (standardized) learning objectives or examples of what we were supposed to do. Instead, we had full agency in deciding how to apply what we were learning to our own practice. I was already experiencing COVA learning but didn’t even know it at the time.
EDLD 5303 and 5304 — Concepts of Educational Technology and Applying Educational Technology
The first major project in this program was this e-Portfolio. I will use this e-Portfolio to document my journey through this program, and also my experiences as a teacher. I started blogging about teaching and learning, and I also post my formal classwork in this portfolio. I wrote a blog post about the purpose of this e-Portfolio and about how it uses the COVA model to make my learning more reflective and meaningful. I also created a learning manifesto to describe what I think learning should be like, and I posted that on my blog to remind me of my vision as an educator so I don’t lose track of my most closely-held beliefs about teaching and learning. To help me keep my focus and my inspiration, I created a list of my PLN — my Personal Learning Network — so I will always know where to go to find ideas and help when I need it. I also wrote a blog post about the importance of having a strong PLN. I also learned about the Growth Mindset, and how I can use it help my students grow, and also to promote growth in my own life.
EDLD 5305 — Disruptive Innovation in Technology
This course was a really exciting one! We had to create an innovation plan to solve a problem in our school system, create a literature review of the research surrounding our plan, then pitch that plan to our school districts. I think this project was the most stressful to me because it was also the most meaningful. That also means that it has the biggest payoff to my practice as a teacher. My project was to bring a maker space (and some extra creative learning time) to my students, which is something I’ve always wanted. My project was picked up and the school began planning to launch a makerspace for the 2017-2018 school year.
During this course, I experienced the most horrific personal tragedy a parent could imagine. I almost quit the program because of it. In a weird way, the course work helped me to create some normalcy in my life while dealing with such intense grief. I wrote about it here.
EDLD 5313 — Creating a Significant Learning Environment
This course was about creating learning environments that encourage students to have agency in their learning through empowering them to make choices about their learning process and the form their work takes, creating a classroom culture that nurtures a growth mindset and rigor at the same time, and creating a learning philosophy to tie it all together. I think this course was really challenging to me, not so much because the work was hard, but because it was about figuring out my own philosophy of learning and where I want to go with it. We touched on this earlier in this program, but as I revisited my learning philosophy, I realized that it had evolved, somewhat. I believe a learning philosophy should evolve over time as we learn new things and put them into practice. Putting them into practice is its own challenge, as we learned through both the 3-Column Table and UbD Templates which used backward design to create learning plans for our classrooms. Going into this course, I really wasn’t sure how to go about putting all the pieces learned in the previous courses together. After taking this course, I am starting to see how it all goes together to create a system that empowers students to learn with passion. I am really looking forward to the rest of my courses in this program, because each one seems to solidify everything covered in previous courses, as well as push us further in the way we think about learning and how we encourage that in its most meaningful form.
EDLD 5314 — Digital Learning in Global & Local Contexts
This course involved a deep study into research about technology initiatives (ICT projects) in other organizations, worldwide, and into what worked, what didn’t work, and how to take what we had learned and apply it to our own Innovation projects. This course was definitely the hardest, because it required extensive research and reflection on our own projects, and also the creation of a call to action for our projects. Because I had moved cross-country in the middle of the summer, and was just starting over on a new project in a new school, the challenge was intense! Balancing my responsibilities as a teacher, my Innovation Project work, and my coursework was a real challenge. It was at this time that I realized that, though I was starting over on a new plan, I had already learned so much through this program that it wasn’t really difficult to start over; it was difficult finding time to stop and think.
EDLD 5315 — Assessing Digital Learning and Instruction
In this course, I was introduced to Action Research, and given the opportunity to begin looking at ways to perform research to find out what is already being done in the field of my innovation plan, what questions are still left to ask, and how I can perform my own research through my innovation plan to add to the discussion. In this course, I created an Action Research Plan Outline, as well as an Action Research Literature Review and Action Research Proposal. This has been super challenging for me to do, as I have accepted a new position as Founding Art Teacher at a new school, and there are many moving parts to nail down while I figure out how my innovation plan is going to work in this new setting. That being said, Action Research allows for much change and reflection as the research is going on, so this plan will grow with me as I move into my new program.
EDLD 5316 — Digital Citizenship
In this course, we explored Digital Citizenship through the book, Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble. We applied what we learned through intense case studies, digital law studies, and creation of resources for teaching about Digital Citizenship issues in our schools. I also blogged about some specific aspects of Digital Citizenship that resonated with me, specifically, including the need for DigCit training in our schools, why banning digital devices is a bad idea, cyberbullying, and how we can teach students about copyright law and promote authentic learning in the arts by saying ‘no’ to cartoon character murals. Then I wrote a reflection of the course, because there was just so much to unpack. This course was so meaningful to me that I started a second innovation project and pitched a Digital Citizenship course to my school. This course will be used to teach students about Digital Citizenship, and incentivize this course with digital privileges so students will want to model positive digital norms.
EDLD 5317 — Resources for Digital Learning Environments
This course involved a study of digital resources and their effectiveness as learning tools. With so many new digital resources flooding the market daily, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them. This course gave us some tools for measuring digital resources’ effectiveness, and for sharing these resources within our Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). We also created articles for publication. Because my innovation plan focused on blended learning, I wrote an article for Edsurge titled What Separates a Good Blended Learning Program From a Bad One.
EDLD 5318 — Instructional Design in Online Learning
In this course, I revisited my Innovation Plan and updated my planning materials with what I had learned from my research. Because I was moving across the country during this course, I used this opportunity to create a completely new plan for my new school. Though my innovation plan would take on a few significant changes after this course, the course prepared me for the constant reflection and assessment of Action Research data to ensure success in any digital project. I also created an online mini-course based on COVA + CSLE to introduce my students to art about Identity.
EDLD 5320 — Synthesis of Digital Learning & Leading/ Capstone
This is the final course of the program, and culmination of all my work. In this course, I re-evaluated my innovation projects, reflected on everything I learned from all my coursework, and synthesized it all into this e-portfolio, which will follow me into the future. Though this required hours upon hours of unpacking all my program work, the most rewarding part of this coursework was looking back at my COVA + CSLE Instructional Design work this year and seeing how much this model has changed my practice for the better.