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Running head: CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

Constructing Knowledge Loretta Cooper Azusa Pacific University

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

Constructing Knowledge My Personal Growth Looking back I was convinced an online program would never fit my learning style. I am a person who needs face to face contact; I need feedback and the opportunity to give feedback. I thrive on group projects and want to hear and take in everyones perspective. So how can a person who thrives on social interaction survive a method of instruction of being physically separated but connected through an internet link? Affectively I found a cadre who respected my opinions, gave me prayers, and encouragement. A sense of community helped me grow cognitively as a writer, researcher, and communicator. Spiritually I was given the opportunity

to reflect on my own personal faith journey and find balance. I put off getting a Master of Arts degree because I lacked the confidence. I decided it

was time to check this off my list of things to accomplish. I needed this degree to advance in my professional life. My confidence grew in this program because of the support of my cadre mates and the grace extended by my professors. I feel I have grown as a writer, researcher, and communicator. The assigned forums pushed me to elaborate my responses in writing. The forums also pushed me to become an active learner. The online platform gives you very little room to be passive. Research, write, and communicate, the weekly ritual. With this ritual I acquired discipline. A discipline I am certain will spill over to my next endeavor. Being spiritually fed each week helped me dig deeper into my own faith journey. It allowed me to express in writing my opinions and feelings, helping me grow in life as a Christian. I considered our faith forums a time of fellowship where I found encouragement from

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

my cadre mates and professors. A place that I believe we grew together. With the help of my cadre mates I was able to find balance. Faith forums gave me the perspective of what was most important and with that perspective I can continue to balance school, home, and work in a healthy way. So does this online program fit my learning style? Yes. I have found a place where I have exceeded my own expectations and this has given me the confidence to pursue my next big dream. My Technical Growth I can confidently say that I have grown technically. According to Richardson (2010), Before you attempt to bring these technologies to your students, first be selfish about their use in your own learning practice (p. 199). This sage piece of advice has been my personal mantra. I have learned to use technology tools that have the capability to bridge the gap of experience for myself and my students. I have learned how to use technology skills to address the changing role of the teacher. I have also learned how to use technology tools to inspire empathy, collaborate, and share information. Once I made my first Skype call and participated in my first Google hangout I was hooked. The learning curves on both were relatively easy. Learning to capture audio content was a bit challenging but luckily I learned along with a few of my cadre mates. I was able to explore hands on with my cadre mates about the many features of Skype and Google Hangouts. We created two videocasts to archive our learning experience. I was also able to utilize my new found social bookmarking skills, pinning a list of useful Skype websites on my Pinterest site. Both gave me my first eye opening experience of how a tool could help bridge together a gap of

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

experience. The potential for both in the classroom is big; I can now introduce students to cultures and experts worldwide in real time or record an interview to be used as a podcast. When I ponder the changing role of the teacher, the flipped classroom model comes to mind. But this model needs careful preparation. In preparation Ive had the opportunity to create both videocasts and podcasts. I have learned to use a RSS feed to keep up with what bloggers are saying about the flipped classroom experience. And I am gaining experience in the world of twitter, using twitter as a resource to keep informed, #flippedclassroom and #flippedclass. I used Jing and Camtasia to create a tutorial video introducing learners to one of

my favorite apps called Stich. The learning curve was steep but once all the pieces came together it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Sticking with my mantra the first key to success is becoming personally familiar with a tool and their potential. So how do you inspire gratitude, collaborate, and share information? I learned how to build websites and personal blogs. Website building has been one of my favorite applications to learn. I created a website for my Global Learning Project. I enjoyed the creative aspect and digging deep to create a space that represents what I hope students will take away, collaboration and reflecting on the meaning of gratitude. There is so much to learn about website building and I feel I have been given a good start. I also learned the ins and outs of blogs by creating my own personal learning space, in my blog I was given the opportunity to reflect on my own learning and connect to an authentic audience. Embedding podcasts, avatars, documents, and videos was challenging and fun. My next step with my new found technical expertise is utilizing websites and blogs as a powerful connection to help students understand they are part of a bigger picture.

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

Have I grown in my technical expertise? The expertise I have gained has been huge. There is so much to take in and I have often felt overwhelmed with information. My momentum can be compared to driving full speed with a tennis ball under the brake. My Professional Growth According to Mizeel (2010), Teaching quality and school leadership are the most important factors in raising student achievement. For teachers and school leaders to be as eective as possible, they continually expand their knowledge and skills to implement the best educational practices (p.3). I have developed a new perspective of lesson planning. I have a clearer understanding of technology as a tool for student collaboration and reflection. I have investigated and utilized the latest web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning. I have a new perspective of lesson planning. The strategy of backward design has challenged my own traditional methods. Understanding backward design I am now able to look at the big picture; start with the end goals, decide on assessments, and plan activities. According to Wiggins and McTighe (2005), backward design forces you to have specific and concrete goals and work toward an enduring value. Backward design is a process that focuses on assessment first and instructional activities last. I am excited to take my new found perspective back into a classroom. Studying different educational theorists has given me a better understanding of instructional strategies that can increase student motivation and learning. I connect most with constructivism. It is my goal to continue moving in the direction of a student- centered classroom; shifting from what is taught to how and why it is taught. Constructivism has taught

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

me that meaningful dialogue, accepting all ideas through collaboration and reflection can change a mere experience into a learning experience (SEDL, 1995). I have been given the opportunity to stay current with web 2.0 tools. I am anxious to bring these tools into my own classroom for creating, collaborating, and communicating. I cant imagine a better way to meet the needs of diverse learners in the classroom. I have built my Personal Learning Network around web 2.0 tools. I have been following and subscribing to blogs. I have set up a RSS feed and have a new found love for twitter. I have growth significantly as an educator. This program has given me a new appetite for learning. I am eager to find a position that can utilize my passion for education and my new found technology skills. My Lifelong Learning Plan I have made a commitment to lifelong learning. According to Sarder (2011), Unlike the value of a car or house, the value of lifelong learning is intrinsic. It is important in and of itself. You cant place a price tag on it. But that doesnt mean it wont vastly enrich your life (p. 11). I plan to keep learning by reading one hour a day. I also plan to stay current in the field of educational technology. I want to explore career opportunities at the university level. This program gave me back my love of reading. Reading is something that is now part of my everyday life. I read for personal and professional growth. I have quite a collection of books, tech magazines, and educational journals on my e-reader. I have committed to an hour a day just for reading. It is equally important that I be I a reading role model for my son. Staying current in the field of educational technology is also on the top of my list. I plan to stay current with online educational journals, blogs, and reading my RSS feeds. Web-based

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magazines will also help me keep up with current trends, innovators, and model schools. One of my goals is to attend the ISTE conference in Atlanta. The conference sounds incredible. What a great way to connect with educators around the globe.

I would like to explore all the career opportunities available at a university level. I believe my postgraduate degree and my teaching and administrative service credential can be applied to any number of jobs within the university level. My goal is to keep an open mind and explore opportunities within a university that match my specific education and credentials.

I am committed to being a lifelong learner for both personal and professional reasons; its part of my lifes journey. I want to grow and learn every day and put the knowledge I learn to work.

Conclusion I can look at this degree as a long term investment with both tangible and intangible outcomes. I worked hard and I am very proud of my accomplishment. I have stretched my knowledge and imagination while gaining specialized expertise in the field of educational technology. I have been given a new paradigm of what educational technology is and how it pertains to student achievement. This program has given me the discipline to be self-directed and self-monitored. I have been given 15 months to think deeply about a subject that I am passionate about. My new skills, knowledge, and increased confidence will translate into new career opportunities.

CONSTRUCTING KNOWLEDGE

References Constructing knowledge in the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/scimath/compass/v01n03/1.html Mizell, H. (2010). Why professional development matters. Retrieved from http://www.learningforward.org/doc/pdf/whypdmattersweb.pdf Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (p. 199). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Sarder, R. (2011). Learning: Steps to becoming a passionate lifelong learner (p. 11). [New York, N.Y.]: Sarder Press. Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.