Posts Tagged ‘course review’

EDTECH 522 – Course Reflection

Online learning is such a fantastic resource for education, and more particularly for adult education.  Of course, adult education can mean a variety of different things, but in the context of this post I am referring to continuing education and professional development.  By the time one reaches “adulthood” there are so many demands and constraints on your time, usually from the to be expected sources like family, work, and everything that fills in the spaces between.  The ability of an adult with a family and a full-time job to take time out of their day to sit in a classroom for an extended period hasn’t been realistic for quite some time, the difference is that now there is an extremely viable, interactive, flexible means available to accomplish those educational tasks without having to drive across town or take time off from work.  Online education and adult learners are a match made in heaven!

With my focus on professional training and continuing education for business professionals, the aspect of this course that I found the most engaging was the 5th module on Planning, Designing, and Facilitating Online Instruction.  While I had created  online training materials previous to this course, it was enlightening to have an opportunity to develop a course from within a system like Moodle.  Previously, training material I had created were built within web content or distributed straight to video screencast or YouTube.  While I had extensive experience using Blackboard and Moodle as a student, this was my first foray into the administration or instructor component and I was intrigued!  I was extremely impressed with the ability to sequester information and break modules and lesson specific information up into “bite sized” components that could then be made available as needed to students.  This was far superior to managing content on a simple website or forum script.  The downside with these LMS systems, as I see it, are that they have terrible collaboration and communication modules built into them.  Most notably their forum scripts.  After a decade of online community management there honestly a half dozen forum scripts (both free and paid) that offer a far superior user experience.

Navigating the course materials in EDTECH 522 has inspired me to spend time moving forward to both enhance my web design skills and to spend quite a bit of time exploring both Moodle and Blackboard for future use in online course development.  I would like to develop a sandbox course that fully utilizes the feature set of a LMS to further explore it’s capabilities for a professional development course.  As someone who enjoys exploration, tinkering, and trial & error, this would afford me the opportunity to continue to refine my understanding of these two LMS systems and at the end of the process I would be left with a course that could be made available for further evaluation of both the course content as well as the organization and flow of the modules that would make up the course.

Online Instruction for Adult Learners has been an extremely rewarding course and I expect that I will find many opportunities in the months and years to come to put the tools and skills gained through the work of this past semester to good use!

EDTECH 543 – Course Reflection

When compared to older, more established educational tools, social media is still in its infancy.  Despite this fact, the scope and power of social media and how it can enhance student interaction and engagement of new material simply can not be ignored.  As more of our interaction with others shifts into an online space, the rate (if not the quality) of communication increases a thousand fold.  While sitting in a lecture ten years ago, a student would have been limited to the course text and perhaps their immediate neighbors for additional information or insight on a given topic.  Now through the advance of technology (both hardware and software) and the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wiki’s, etc. students can access information and individuals on a global scale with a few strategic swipes on their phone or tablet device… all while sitting in class.

Of course, what is more social than sharing?  Collaborating with others on projects and assignments in many ways is so much easier than it ever has been.  Gone are the days when groups would be condemned to extended hours huddled in a library, coffee shop, or similar establishment during a mutually agreed upon day and time that the majority of the group had time to occupy the same space together.  Video and online streaming chat services available free of charge through Google Drive, Skype, Google Hangout’s, when combined with elaborate content sharing enable individuals to work together with more flexibility by removing the long standing requirement of occupying the same physical space in order to collaborate on work in progress.  Now two, three, five, ten people can all have the same document open and be discussing, editing, contributing, and flushing out details in tandem from half a dozen different geographic locations around the globe.  All someone needs to access these wonderful tools is an Internet connection (preferably broadband) and a web browser!  It really is amazing to me how far and how fast the digital space has expanded the reach of teaching and learning.

With a background and general love for most things related to technology, I frequently had at least a passing knowledge of most of the tools that we put to use in EDTECH 543 Social Networking.  What this course introduced me to, through course work and interaction with my fellow classmates, was a much deeper understanding of how to put these tools to work in an educational setting.  How to collaborate on Diigo to share project resources found across the vastness of the Interwebs, combining project submission and distribution through Twitter #hashtags that link back to a blog or Facebook post.  As with most things in life, we truly seem to be limited mostly by our imagination and drive to accomplish that which we set out to.  While it seems terribly cliche to say so, frequently all that is required to take a commonly used, pedestrian tool and convert that into a powerful educational tools is a touch of creative thinking… generally outside the box!