I’m at the end of another grad class and with this class it’s the end of my Master’s program. I’ve enjoyed the challenges, research and discussions associated with all of my classes. I’ve had to read articles with words I didn’t understand and had to read with a dictionary on one side of me. I’ve read articles that confirmed ideas I had about teaching and I’ve read articles that made me question some of my teaching practices. With every class I’ve learned about myself, my colleagues and developed my philosophy of teaching.

For my last class my instructor has posted questions for us to think about and reflect on. At the beginning of the class we had to think about where we were on our learning curve but the funny part is every time I embrace a new experience I’m right back to the bottom of the curve.

What new understandings of the role of educational technology to support learning have you gained, acted on or perhaps strengthened?

I’ve been searching for articles, websites and blog posts that describe the integration of technology in subject areas. I’m looking for exemplars, case studies and information about the impact technology integration has on both the student and the teacher. I’ve been scouring state and provincial education sites to look for guidance on what other groups are preparing for their teachers as the teachers tackle the ISTE standards for themselves and the students. I’ve been reading information on the State of Florida’s education site, looking at the Province of Manitoba’s Curriculum Navigator and checking out the Galileo site. I want to be able to ‘show’ teachers what technology integration looks like.

Technology in Our Class.

What has had the most influence on your horizon of understanding?

My network continues to have the most influence on me. My network has expanded once again through the use of digital technology in this grad class. I’ve connected with more teachers in Regina Public Schools, I’ve chatted with teachers around the province through email and comments regarding the challenged they are facing in their schools and I’ve received great feedback on my blog posts. The network that I’ve already been working with provides with links and blogs to provoke thinking, my network offers me support and my networks expands my knowledge. When I’m lacking an understanding about a concept or theory I can approach my network, ask a question and receive information through blog comments, emails or Twitter posts. My belief in George Siemen’s Connectivity Theory is demonstrated by the support from my Web network.
What new questions have emerged for you?

There are questions that I continue to think about. What is stopping teachers from integrating technology? How can I convince teachers that technology integration isn’t difficult? But as to new questions I’m thinking about how Regina Public Schools can create technology integration , resource pages along  with links to outcomes and indicators that will allow teachers to integrate technology into their everyday teaching. I wonder how I can make a difference and help teachers overcome whatever barrier is stopping them to integrate technology into lessons. I often think where our school division will be in five years or ten years and what changes will occur.

Digital World.

During the last two weeks my EC&I 832 class has explored Second Life. I had some technical difficulties with computers, installation, mics and sound. I visited Second Life for an orientation then on my second trip for our tour I felt discouraged by the problems. I looked back to check what I had written on my first trip in 2008.

“March 13, 2008: Last night was my first foray in Second Life. My EC&I 831 class from the University of Regina toured Second Life last night with the help of tour guide Kirk Kezema from the University of Saskatchewan. The first challenge was to create an account and an identity in Second Life. I am Global Chesnokov. Now, if you don’t know how this works you are allowed to choose your first name then there are choices for your last name. I chose Global because at the time I had the tv on the Global television network and their logo/name was on the screen. Next I had to choose what I looked like. Unfortunately I made the same choice as two other people in my class so we had triplets wandering cyberland last night. I could only tell it was me when I read my name above my head. If I was going to do this again I would personalize my identity. I now had to install the Second Life program to my computer. Well, my school MacBook wasn’t letting me do much and the browsers weren’t recognizing the Second Life url for my tour. I tried on my PC at home. I installed the program then the flashing blox came up telling me that my video cards were too old to support the program. Finally, I used my husband’s brand new HP laptop with a 17″ screen. He said I could use it for the class and then he was uninstalling Second Life. He couldn’t imagine what sort of educational value playing a game could be.”

Hmmmmm…sounds like I had the same difficulties two years ago when I was trying to access Second Life. This time my school MacBook wouldn’t allow a Second Life upgrade so I couldn’t access the site. It was back to my husband’s HP laptop. Did I mention that I had no idea where his audio controls were when I finally got into Second Life?

” March, 2008: Okay, so now I’m in Second Life and I’m teleporting to our i place which is the EECM Meeting Hall. We meet in a virtual lecture hall and are asked to sit down. Sounds easy right? Guess again. We looked like a group of kindergarten students trying to form a circle. It was truly sad. Finally our leader was able to organize the virtual world neophytes and explain what would happen on our tour.”

“We lost people on the tour, we had to learn to walk straight and follow our guide and others kept sitting down at unexpected moments.”

This also sounds familiar. My new group was wandering around, we lost each other and had to get teleported back to the group. I ended up in a few strange places and then had to ask to be brought home again.

I see the potential for education and the way it could enrich student learning. Unfortunately, each time I’ve tried it I’ve experienced technical problems which frustrate me. The technical problems alone would stop me from using Second Life with my students because I think that if I’m frustrated I can’t imagine how a class of students would feel. I’m not shutting the door on virtual world learning but right now Second Life isn’t for me.

Welcome to the Sandbox is the welcome to my most recent, and last, grad class. The class is officially EC&I 832 Computers in the Classroom and is being offered on-line during the winter semester at the University of Regina.

I’m  on Block 1 and making my way through the course readings and activities for the week.

This week you will:
1. Familiarize yourself with the course overview and the course evaluation
2. Explore who you are as a learner in an online space and reflect on who you are as a learner and educator in a digital world
3. Share your introductory biography so others can get to know you

My first adventure in this course will be to take an on-line learning styles quiz and looking at who I am as a learner. Stay tuned for how that works out for me. The second task is to read Karl Fisch’s blog post “Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?” . I’ll be curious to see how I fit in to his definition of technologically literate or illiterate. The third challenge for the week is to complete an introduction to the rest of the class so that we can try and put faces to names as we work through the semester.

In a brief story format (written, audio or audio/visual), please share:

  1. An introduction of yourself
  2. Where you are in your Graduate Studies program and what route you have chosen to take (course route or thesis; Curriculum and Instruction or other area)
  3. Your professional background and current assignment or position
  4. Your background/experience with technology on a personal level as well as within your current role
  5. Who are you as a learner and what makes your “learning curve go off the chart”?
  6. Any interests/hobbies/talents/achievements that would help others get to know you better

Wish me luck as I complete the tasks, particularly reflecting on who I am as a learner. I think as with every class that I’ve taken on the way to completing my Master’s program I’m going to grow, learn and be challenged to look at the world in a different way.