Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Massey University Study - End of Semester 1 Reflection

How has my knowledge and understanding of ID and learning technologies progressed this term?

Prior to undertaking the study of paper 261.760 at Massey University, my knowledge of learning theories was fairly limited. I had a vague recollection of concepts such as ‘constructivism’ floating around in my head, jammed in-between innumerable other educational bytes that I was attempting to make sense of throughout the run-of-the-mill days that I meandered through in somewhat of a malaise. Once I started the study however, these concepts that were otherwise pinioned in by a vast amount of noise were suddenly released, and teamed up with new words that carried power and ‘resonated’ within me at a deep, fundamental level. Words like ‘cognitivism’ and ‘situated’ started teaming up in my brain, stimulating new ideas to emerge in my frontal-lobe that impassioned me to “give new things a crack” and see what happened. Words like ‘associationism’ started to find their appropriate place, not cast into the deep recesses of my mind but readjusted - positioned at a different angle - cast in a new light; still with a part to play, but given a new sheen and new applications. It was an exciting time.

The catalyst that stimulated this “shake-up” was the learning-theories assignment. I found it no surprise that much of the theory I was encountering seemed completely new to me - I was 21 years of age when I studied to be a teacher in my postgraduate diploma, and subsequent reflections on that period of “academia” make me seriously question the integrity of the lecturers that passed me. I certainly wouldn’t say that learning theory was my forte - in fact I’d go so far as to say that my understanding of how students learn was woefully inadequate for the job that I faced when I first stepped into a classroom and assumed the position on the other side of the desk. A mea culpa for sure, but not a fatal one, as I managed to get by with a powerful mixture of passion and fortitude and what I consider to be common-sense over the following ten years. 

Perhaps ten years is an exaggeration, as really I took part in some fairly solid professional development sessions at times throughout the decade, some much better than others I might add. In fact, some were what I can only describe as excellent, getting me to think about how students learn, allowing me to get “inside their heads” and better understand how to engage them and help them achieve. This PD helped me survive in the job and kept me “turning over”, mentally stimulating me ever so often and reinvigorating me to think critically about my approaches to education.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I undertook some rather serious readings while studying this year that I began to truly reflect on my practice and grow as an educator. I’m rather impassioned at the moment to do more to develop my fellow educators’ use of technology in the classroom, and although I possess a considerable amount of knowledge with particular new technologies, I realise that I require a strong pedagogical foundation to work from. This realisation grew out of the experiences I’ve had so far in this paper. 

I’m excited by what’s to come, which will involve applying my learning while developing an online learning tool. Regardless of this excitement though, I have not lost sight of the importance of this learning to my everyday practice and attempt to think about it as often as I can in what has become an all too easily dismissed day-to-day routine. This consistent reflection has had an added bonus as well - each day of teaching is just that little bit more exciting!

Click here to view my complete learning portfolio for 261.760 on MyPortfolio.

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