I can’t believe this course is over! As much as I dreaded it after I read the syllabus the first time, it has flown by and I can confidently say that I learned more (about the subject matter and about myself) in this course than in any of my previous courses. I have compiled and commented on some of the work I am proud of (as well as some from the early weeks in which I was barely keeping my head above water) in My Final Portfolio. In this final reflection I will be looking at myself as a learner as well as a designer of INTE5340.
Me as a Learner
The easiest way to explain this course is that I learned by doing. This class created the ultimate participatory culture in which we all learned by diving right in and interacting with the materials and with each other. I learned from the readings, absolutely, but I learned even more from my classmates’ understandings of and confusions surrounding those readings. I was forced to step out of my technical comfort zone and create things that I didn’t know I was capable of. Something that I would not have found success with if it weren’t for the blogs, tweets, and tutorials of the current and former members of the ds106 community. As someone with very limited social media use in my day to day life, this class opened my eyes as well as some doors to people and resources that I can use to better myself as a learner and as a teacher. Although this is my last class to get my MA, as an educator I am dedicated to being a lifelong learner and will be taking what I have learned in this class with me as I go. I know first hand the benefit of being an active learner, something that I will admit I have not typically been in past classes and professional development.
Me as a Co-Designer
This class was completely different from my prior graduate level courses. The only courses that that are even remotely comparable are those that were in direct relation to my student teaching several years ago. However, even in those courses, I learned (when I say “learned” I mean read about and was lectured to about) about the interactions I should have with my students before I was allowed to put those practices into action. In this course I dove right in on day one and was expected to struggle through and find my own success with things I had never done before. The addition of the things I created and blogged about gave my classmates some talking points throughout the weeks of this course and my interactions with everyone involved on Twitter and, even more so through Hypothesis helped keep the conversation of this class’ story going. These annotations helped me to put my own learning into words, and just as reading my classmates’ annotations shaped my opinions on the readings, I assume my own questions and comments did the same for others. I went from being skeptical and pessimistic about this course to fully believing in the power of the digital interactions I have experienced, so it would be hard for me to suggest any ways in which I would have designed this course differently. One thing I might say is that I might have switched up some of the weekly requirements, or at the very least the order in which they were due, to make the week to week work feel a little less monotonous. That being said, I think that stability of the assignments is what allowed me to have some confidence that I was meeting the requirements and thus encouraged me to branch out a little with what I was creating, so I can see why the class was designed this way.
My Understanding of Pedagogy
When I first started this course I found myself wondering what exactly Remi and Lisa had to do. As I worked through it, I understood the design more and more, and realized that actually, I was getting more frequent and more timely feedback on my work through annotations and Twitter than I have in almost any other class. My ideas surrounding pedagogy and the role of myself as an instructor have definitely been put into question throughout this course. I understand now that I need to present myself to my students as someone who is there to learn along with them. I have gained a better understanding of how to turn things I am already doing in my classroom into similar assignments that are more problem based, and will force my students to work together (with my guidance and reassurance) to come to their own conclusions. This class was so meaningful to me because, in a sense, I became my own instructor. I always knew I had Remi and Lisa (as well as all of my classmates and other members of the ds106 community) to use as resources, but my learning was truly my own. I have nothing but praise for this course and for all of the people involved. I never met anyone face to face, and yet I feel far more connected to this community than to any of my previous in person courses. I look forward to using everything I have learned.