|Photo credit to abdullah.khan|
Being a part of this class was an experience like no other! Every time I attended class I felt as if I was a part of an invigorating learning experience. Professor Coleman never failed when it came to having something collaborative for my peers and I to do every single class. We played with hand held GPS systems or participated in collecting classroom data by using online poll/survey machines. I participated in all of her activities not because I felt like I had to, or because I wanted a participation grade, but truly because I wanted to. Her positivity made me want to participate, learn, and enjoy my learning experience, and that is exactly what I did. I enjoyed using my cell phone to do the online surveys/polls. I participated with the discussion posts, supported my partners with every collaborative project, and my two favorite classroom activity was the GPS scavenger hunt and the recent activity we did on Emodo - a school censored network for communication.
One of our collaborative assignments was the wiki project. Honestly, I was nervous about this project in particular because of the additional element of communicating through technology. The purpose of the project was not only to collaborate, but to do so through using technology solely. To add on to the stress, we were only allowed to speak to our partners using the wiki. We were not allowed to use cell phones, social networks, or even Google docs! I was actually afraid to do this assignment but I knew I could not let my partners down nor was I going to let the fear of learning something new hold me back. Each group member was instructed to choose an instructional education strategy. After we chose our desired topic, we were each supposed to create our own page for the final wiki after researching the topic; my topic was setting objectives. We also had to include visual aids like a video and pictures.
When I finally started to work on the project with my partners, I found that the idea of collaborating through using technological tools like the wiki was not only convenient and fun. I also found that is was very realistic and relevant to the developing education profession. For instance, students today are referred to as Generation Z. Their worlds revolve around advanced technology. Completing this assignment demonstrated how they learn and ultimately taught me a new technique on how to grab these students’ attention. The directions for the wiki were precise and finding the information to complete the assignment was unproblematic. I would not deem this assignment as a difficult, but it was a challenge for me to reach outside of my comfort zone and experience something new. I personally enjoyed the process of the wiki and contributing to the final project, but I could tell that others did not grab the essence of the assignment. Overall, my group executed fantastically. The final wiki was pleasing to the eye, well organized, and each group member provided accurate information.
I could tell that Professor Coleman was a creative person from the very first class and I knew her goal was to get all of her students to understand how we can be as creative if we learned what tools to use. She made it clear that she did not expect perfect but an effort, to get our feet wet, and then learn how to master the material later. This is where I had a problem. I have always been a daring character, but never did I imagine creating lesson plans with the assistance of so many technological tools. Because of my age, people automatically assume that using new technologies are second nature to breathing for me. Well, those people are wrong. I have always had the fear of trying new things on my own. Exploring new technologies were never fun or invigorating for me; thinking about the process was always a nightmare. I am a perfectionist. If I tell myself that I cannot master something the first time, I will refuse to even try, hence, my problem with Professor Coleman. However, I do love tackling challenges so I tried anyway and boy did I enjoy myself! I got over my fear of failing, dove in, and loved every minute of it! (The Michael Jordan video helped changed my thought process a whole heap!) I made a vow to myself at the beginning of the semester that I would never look at any of our assignments or projects as hard, but as a new challenge. Each assignment was different making the processes that I took to complete them different. I kept my promise and embraced each challenge and learned something new in the process my technological creations. I have to say my favorite “creation” was my blog. Although we had guidelines as to what we could post about, I appreciated the freedom of making the blog into my own by hyperlinking new things that I learned, playing with the backgrounds, adding videos, etc We had to use the book for the basis of the content, of course, but we were also able to do our own research about the different tech tools that the author provided for us in the book.
Overall, I enjoyed my experiences but with each experience came its hardships. The most difficult parts of collaborating with my partners was communicating and wanting the same goal. Each group that I was assigned to was diverse in many different aspects like: age, educational background, understanding of new technologies, and work ethic. I did not seem to meet eye-to-eye with my older partners because they were more conservative and liked sticking to the books. They were more comfortable with meeting face-to-face and having formal meetings, which I can completely understand, however, everyone’s schedule was different. A couple of my group members that were closer in age did not have the same work ethic as I did, which frustrated me beyond explanation. They did not take the initiative to take responsibility for their portion of the assignment. Someone else would have to pester them in order for them to get the job done. I understand that we all have busy schedules, but we are all adults and no one should jeopardize the group’s grade with their laziness. Another thing that bothered me about working together with others was the refusal of compromise for the sake of the group. Some people just do not know how to accept critique. On a positive note, I learned a lot about being patient and communicating with different types of people. I also learned how to make a legitimate lesson plan; that was exciting! I also learned that the more precise and specific one is when developing a lesson plan, the better.
The two collaborative projects were different in the sense of content and what we were ultimately trying to accomplish, but they had their similarities as well. Both projects demanded working together with others and communicating using technology. I felt as if the both of the collaborative projects were challenging in that aspect. In comparison to the wiki; however, the lesson plan was lengthier. It took more time out of my schedule than I thought it would. Unfortunately, the reason why the process was so lengthy was my diverse group did not know how to effectively communicate. I personally enjoyed creating the wiki because I did not have to deal with the stress of always feeling like I had to meet in person with someone in order for the project to be completed. Although creating the lesson plan was super frustrating for me, I felt as if I had more freedom to create than I did the wiki. I enjoyed having the option of creating a lesson plan about whatever I wanted, compared to creating a wiki about a few selected topics. I appreciated the guidelines that came with the wiki, but I feel as if the tool we used to create the final wiki did not allow me to step outside of my comfort zone. I will admit that this feeling of wanting more has to do with the way I approach technology now. Both projects cam with its challenges, but I am proud of the final outcome for the both of them. I Both of my projects received an A, so despite all of my frustrations, my partners and I did a good job on both of the projects.
I will admit that Professor Coleman changed my attitude towards using and learning about new technologies. There is a whole world that I would not dare explore due to my lack of curiosity and my intimidation of the knowledge that I could discover. I am not a master of technology yet, but this class has taught me to explore new technological ways of teaching. I do not want to think about this as a goodbye, but a welcome to a world that I could have easily accessed years ago with a simple click of mouse or tap to a screen. I know for a fact that I will use Survey Monkey in the near future. I will also allow my students to use their cell phones. These tools can be used as attention grabbers, or as a way to wrap up what the students learned in class. I would also like to give my students the opportunity to create their own blogs. It’s fun! It’s an easy way to make sure that students are on task when it comes to chapter readings and another way to let them be creative. Blogs can assure me that my students are actually reading and learning from the book. Finally, discussion boards will be a must in my classroom. This tool will ensure me that everyone in class is on the same page; it helps with communicating without violating school rules, and gives students the leisure to complete assignments when it’s most convenient for them. I am super excited about using technology in my own classroom when I graduate!
Coleman, M. (n.d.). EME2040. Colemama. Retrieved December 12, 2001, from www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=55702
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