End of Semester Reflections


As a final assignment in the online course I team-taught with Lynda Gillespie, we had our students reflect on the journey they took over the 14 weeks of class.  Our course is Educational Technology for School Leaders, a graduate course in the Ed Leadership masters at VCU.  We were fortunate in this class to have some unique opportunities.  First, the class was made up of both Richmond area school teachers working on their Masters, as well as Visiting International Faculty working on theirs.  This mix of local and international students teaching across three states led to some fascinating discussion and discovery.

Also, I was fortunate to team with Lynda, who is the Director of Technology at Chesterfield County Public Schools, and who spent this semester finalizing her county technology plan.

During the first part of the course, the students explored Web 2.0.  The 29 students were required to select 29 web tools from Jane Hart’s Top 100 List, research the tool, and then place a presentation about the tool on the class wiki.  Many found this assignment way outside their comfort zone, but by week 4, there were 29 tools posted on the site.  Their comfort level with technology really took off at this point, so that in the next three weeks, as we explored ethical, legal and political issues associated with the web, they put together a great list of resources in the class wiki on whether to filter or not filter the internet in schools.

Finally, they were split into five teams and each team developed a technology plan for a fictitious school, which again they presented inside the wiki.  From a group of self-proclaimed nervous-Nellies regarding technology, the five presentations included two groups who used Prezi and one that used VoiceThread Jing and Camtasia filled out the other two.

The students wrote short reflection papers in the final weekend about their journey, and I took their combined papers and loaded the text into Wordle.

Reflection Wordle
Reflection Wordle

I found it interesting that after technology, the two words that most stood out were “student” and “use”.  In fact, “class use” seems to be the story from Wordle, and that matched what many said of their experience.  By course’s end, many reported that they had already modified how they were teaching.  What does not show up in the Wordle was the number of students that played off the theme of this class as a life-changing event.  By that, they had seen that technology was not something that you waited for an administrator to schedule training, but rather something integrated in daily life that they now felt personal responsibility for remaining current.

I thoroughly enjoyed facilitating the learning in this online class.  As we ramp up plans for increased online teaching at VCU, I look forward to carrying this positive experience into my work with other faculty.

{Photo Credit: Lydia Elle}

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