"The teacher is the chief learner in the classroom."
- Donald Graves

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reflections on EDLD_5363

how I learned to stop obsessing and love collaboration

In this post I am going to reflect on a couple of things having to do with my continued studies in Lamar University's masters program. First, I want to talk about the web conferences and secondly, I want to talk a bit about how the program has helped me to become more connected to people and aware of how to communicate with them.

I attended a roughly half the web conferences during this class and found them generally helpful. During the discussions I was able to get some clarifying information and, hopefully, on occasion provide some myself. I could tell there were a number of new students this time and I think I was able to help them better understand the program in a limited way. The give and take of the discussions allowed the participants to get to know each other at some level. Much of the discussion centered on how to complete assignments and sharing links to information to help each other complete assignments. 

However, I also became somewhat disillusioned with the conferences as they would often quickly become, in my opinion, too focused on what had to be done to earn points and not about the learning that was taking place. I understand the need for many people to get the best grade, we live in a society where an A on anything equates with competency. But, at times, the discussions became so focused on semantic details over exactly how to get maximum points, that the learning just couldn't happen. Instead of sharing information and collaborating to solve problems, the main focus became how to get an A. I really believe that we need to move past this what do I have to do mentality and wrap our minds around what can I make or create that will help someone else learn as a measure of competency. Doing the work will get you an A without actually learning anything new. This obsession over the grade detracts from the learning.

I also found the conferences a way to connect with other students and in fact made some valuable connections to a few students who I now follow on twitter. We have continued to share and even establish a professional relationship due to the introduction provided by the weekly web conferences. This, for me, is the essence of why I'm in this program. I'm at a stage in my career, where I need to look at the next phase, perhaps outside of the classroom, but definitely connected to other educators regardless of where I am in the next few years. In this class, as well as the other ed tech classes I have taken at Lamar, the opportunity to connect, learn and collaborate with other professionals with similar interests has been the most valuable aspect of the experience.

reflection on collaborating to produce the video Fraction Ma'am

By collaborating with a group of professionals I was able to be a part of the video embedded below. We used gotomeeting.com for our initial meeting and were able to not only get to know each other, we arrived at many decisions during this face to face meeting. We used this format on two other occasions to meet and discuss our progress and solve problems during the production. We also used our Google doc to keep each other informed of changes and meet the requirements of the course outline. This document served as a clearing house for our ideas as well as a running record of changes and additions to our project. Throughout the project we used email to communicate with each other and set up meeting times. We also shared documents through this vehicle. 

I was fortunate to be able to join a wonderful group of young professionals. We had a great energy and collaborating with them was easy. While we didn't always see the project in the same way, we grew to trust each other with our parts of the project. The deadlines were met and I think we created something that has value outside of this course. As someone who generally preferred to work alone prior to being involved in these collaborative efforts, I appreciate the opportunities made available to practice and learn the art of collaboration.