Reflection on Learning

    When I started the journey towards my masters I had a grasp on classroom and abundant skills with technology and programs. I also had absolutely no understanding of just how much I was ignorant of. Since then I have grown in a variety of ways; in my mastery of content, my understanding of pedagogy, my creation of learning environments, my skills as a researcher, and as a professional educator.

    My primary desire in applying for this program was to increase my content knowledge in the use of technology. I had hoped that by going through this program I would learn about new tools and become more familiar with others that I was already aware of. In this I feel that I was very successful. Two technologies where I have seen great improvement is in website design and the construction of instructional modules. When I entered the program I had created some basic sites using premade tools such as google sites, however I had no experience in hosting or modifying pages beyond those afforded to me by premade tools. I have the experience and skills required to create and host my own sites that go beyond the limited tools provided for me. I have also gained a large amount of experience in creating instructional modules in programs such as Powerpoint, Rise and Articulate 360. While I had previously been familiar with them, I was not aware of all the features they contained and how to use them effectively. In addition to these I have also been able to improve my skills in image editing, video recording and editing, and collaboration software. These experiences have allowed me to expand my abilities to accomplish goals that were out of my reach before.

    More important than knowing the tools of my trade is knowing how and where to use them. In this area I feel that I have increased the most. When I began my courses I had no knowledge of The ADDIE system or the MRK model. Perhaps they may have been mentioned in my undergrad studies, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to use them or tell them apart. Throughout my classes I now have a working knowledge of several key concepts such as Dick and Carey, SAM, Agile, as well as the conceptual framework on which they were built. I can also identify situations where they should be applied and more importantly, how they can be modified to work in my current situation.

    It is not enough to be competent with technology tools, but they must be chosen carefully and used effectively. No matter how good you are with a hammer, you will never be able to use it to put in a screw. Another aspect in which I have grown is in my creation of effective learning environments. Being familiar with the theories of instruction is not enough on its own, we must also create environments where learners have the resources, tools, attitudes and skills to be successful. I have learned much in this area, such as the importance of assessing the learner and objectives of the lessons. I now have the tools and experience to provide learners with the resources and experiences that are needed. One specific area that has undergone tremendous growth is in the understanding of accessibility. Through my coursework I have learned the importance of making resources that are accessible to everyone as well as how to best do so. It is important that all learners have the ability to be successful in our classes.

    Professional growth is important as well. As an introvert, I find this particular area of growth particularly difficult. Throughout my courses, I have been pushed to communicate professionally with others, even beyond my peers. The importance of staying in contact with others during the completion of tasks has been reinforced, and I have had practice in the proper ways of doing so. I feel that my internship experience was a crucial turning point in my understanding of professionalism. Here I had the opportunity to expand my communication and presentation skills while interacting with a diverse set of stakeholders. Going through this process has given me the confidence to go out and attempt larger things.

    A final major area of growth has been in my research skills. Research has never been my strength, and while I still do not enjoy the process I can confidently say that my ability to find, analyze, and synthesize new information has been greatly expanded. I have had to use new methods of locating sources, and learned new tricks to narrow down my queries. I have also had to exercise my skills in critically examining the sources that I find to determine how they relate to my topic. I have also needed to work harder at synthesizing information within this program to meet the rigorous expectations of the assignments. While not the most enjoyable experience, I now feel like I have the ability to conduct further research in my field should I ever need to do so again.

    Through this program, I have constantly been challenged. It has created a fair bit of stress, but the rewards have been worth it. The skills and knowledge I have gained will allow me to become a better teacher to my students. So in the end, I will count this as a success. Yet, the most important thing that I have learned however, is just how much farther I have yet to go. While I have learned much during my time in this program, I now see that there are so many more models to explore, programs to master, skills to develop, and research yet to be done.