Reflection on EdTech 501 – Fall 2011

[Subject to a Little Editing]

My journey through this class was probably different from other students.  I came in knowing I had to be successful, this term, but really not 100% certain that I would be.  I attempted this class in Fall 2010 and wound up withdrawing from it right at the end.  At the time, I felt like I had sort of set myself up: I was settling into a new town, teaching online, and needing to find additional employment.  So, I had more going on than is typical for me, but I have also always had to work hard to be successful in an academic setting.  Not having been able to maintain the focus that the class deserved, I withdrew.

In March, BSU called me and asked if I was planning on re-applying.  I had always intended to re-apply, but I wasn’t sure when that would happen.  It is like any time you fall down: it’s embarrassing and it hurts and you don’t know – at the moment it happens – when you are going to stand up and brush yourself off.  So, when the edtech department called me, I decided that was the time for me to dust myself off and move forward.  I re-applied and was accepted – it appears persistence is still a factor in some aspects of life and I am so happy and grateful to be back here, again, and to have made it through to the other side.

I found Zotero to be a really useful tool, this semester, but I could only use the plugin on Firefox.  Diigo could have been useful, but our Beta group tried to use it with Google Docs more than anything else, which only worked on the Chrome browser.  There was a Diigo plugin for Chrome, but it caused Google Docs to crash and didn’t automatically display notes from my other group members, anyway.  Diigo did not ultimately get a lot of use from me, outside of assignment requirements.  All of this could have been frustrating and I really do wish there was a universal browser out there, one where all of the plugins and all of the websites work properly, but I like technology and I accept it with all of its imperfections.

Having seen some of the tools we used prior to the start of class – I used Zotero the last time I attempted the class, I had been messing with Google+ for a while before it was assigned as a tool to try out, and I used the same blog as my Learning Log last year – I was able to focus on other things.  I think the tools we used were great, though since I’m not teaching right now, I didn’t think a lot about how to incorporate them into my own classroom (but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take in what we’ve been doing and that I won’t revisit it when I am ready to start teaching, again) – I don’t have one.  What I did think about was how to better handle the volume of communication that comes with teaching a class online.  Dr. Schroeder did a fantastic job of letting us know how she was going to communicate with us and staying true to her intent, and it was obvious that the tactics she used made the whole process much more efficient for her.

Another thing that I tried to focus on was our group projects.  Though I have a tendency to take a backseat and let others drive when it seems like that is the best thing for the group, I really tried to make an effort to be present with our group and contribute as much as I could.  I don’t enjoy group projects, historically, but I really had a lot of fun, this semester, and I’m looking forward to more online collaboration in the future.  Working as part of a team is one of the most important professional skills that you can develop and as either an introvert or a closet extrovert, I make it a point to try and put myself out there.  I found the last couple days of class particularly fulfilling in working on moving our presentation over to Slideshare – I learned a lot about pushing a project through to completion and about a couple different types of technology – Slideshare and Audacity.

I got a dog in June and I have to credit her (and my very supportive and understanding little family) with keeping me sane, this semester.  She has truly saved me by dragging me out of doors when it’s pouring rain outside, when under normal circumstances I would probably just stay cooped up until the sun came out again.  She is always happy to see me, even if she doesn’t always like me.  That sort of consistent if not constant joy definitely cuts through the gloom of winter on the Oregon coast.

I’m looking forward to next term, already, and excited to have a group of people to share this important educational journey with me, despite our geographical disparities.

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