Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Love at First MOOC - My Case Study for ED 722

The title of my post describes my overall feeling of the work I completed the past few months through my ED 722 course and the DLMOOC.  I believe that I am much better equipped now than before to explore the possibilities of becoming an online or blended educator.  Prior to this course I never thought I could use an online learning environment for my class, but I am positive now I could structure an effective course.

Initially I was hesitant to even think about the possibility of online learning for my students.  I admit I am a bit of control freak and I could not have imagined not having control of the pace of a course or the constant monitoring of my students’ progress.  As I read through Richard Ferdig’s article:  What Massive Online Open Courses Have to Offer K-12 Teachers and Students I soon learned that there were different types of MOOCs that could be used for different courses. The following is a link to my blog post about this topic which I go into further detail with what I learned: MOOCs - An Obsession for This Lifelong Learner!. In my opinion, the week I wrote the blog post about MOOCs was when I began daydreaming constantly about the different MOOCs I could use in my classroom for my students. Literally I would daydream about the possibilities of how I could incorporate MOOCs into the 8th grade curriculum. It was kind of scary.

Then I was introduced to Tony Gates’ article:  A New Pedagogy is Emerging...And Online Learning is a Key Contributing Factor and I realized that is not so much about the control of the course as it is the design of the course that teachers need to be aware of when creating online learning opportunities.  Student mindsets also play into this equation of creating an online learning course that will engage students, but also challenge them to succeed.  The design of the course and the focus on student mindset were two areas that I paid particular attention to when I worked with Amy Paskov on our high school math transition course.  We did not want to strictly provide the students with lecture after lecture to learn the material, but instead we dispersed games and online assessments throughout the modules which students would use to reinforce the material covered.  The following link will take you to the unit and allow you to see how we designed the modules to allow for learning and entertainment at the same time:  High School Math Transition Course.

There were other online tools that I was asked to use throughout ED 722 and DLMOOC.  Twitter and Storify were the two major resources that I used on a weekly basis to document and curate my learning process through the course.  At the start of the course, I followed 22 individuals and 18 followed me on Twitter.  As of today, 3/24/14, I am following 38 individuals and I have 32 who follow me.  As for Storify, I had 1 Storify follower when the course began and now I have 9 followers.  While I was working with both of these tools I would often talk to my own students about what they had to offer and how I could incorporate them into our classroom.  The majority of students felt that Storify could be interesting to use in class, but they did not really see the use of Twitter, especially if you could pull tweets to use in the Storify.  To quote one of my students, “Twitter is so old and boring.”  After I heard my student state the comment, I realized that Twitter may not be the best tool to incorporate in my middle school classroom due to students’ perception of the resource.  Storify on the other hand is something that my students really want me to use and they asked me to convince the social studies and science teachers to use it with their classes as well.  Both they and I love the ability to compile information from a variety of sources into a single page that is easy to view.

The following are links to my Storifies for each week of the course:

Storify Week 4 - Deeper Learning and Magnet Schools
Storify Week 5 - 21st Century Learning
Storify Week 6 - Cloud Computing
Storify Week 7 - Internships: Real Learning for Real Life
Storify Week 7 - Creative Teachers Engage Their Students
Storify Week 8 - Differentiating Instruction - Technology Focused
Storify Week 9 - Mindsets in Education
Storify Week 10 - Assessing Deeper Learning with Badges and Reflection
Storify Week 11 - Creative Ways to Display Student Work In and Outside the Classroom

On a personal note, I absolutely loved taking part in the DLMOOC.  I cannot wait to have more time to get involved with other MOOCs in the future.  With time constraints in my personal schedule, it was difficult for me to spend as much time as I would have liked with the DLMOOC.  I learned so much from the readings, activities, tweets, and Hangouts that were part of the course, but I am almost positive there were so many other things I could have learned if I had more time.

Once I complete my 6th year certification program, I plan to make it a goal of mine to participate in at least one or two MOOCs a year.  I am a lifelong learner and it excites me to know that there are many opportunities available and they are mostly free!  In addition, if I truly want to incorporate MOOCs into my classroom I should use my own participation as research for how to provide the best online learning experience for my students.  If I get a chance to participate in a variety of MOOCs, I can use my experiences to tailor what best fits the needs of my particular group of students.  I can honestly say that there has never been a course which has prepared me more for what I want to be doing with my future than this course.

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