Over the last year and a half I have been on a wildly transformative journey fraught with emotions, ups, downs and everything in between. As I reflect on this unique experience, I feel like I’ve come a long way from where I started and have accomplished things I never thought would be possible. At the very beginning of my journey, I was apprehensive not knowing what to expect. I had a pretty strong technical background when it came to digital technology but not much leadership experience. Furthermore, this was my first time to take online courses as well as my first attempt at graduate school. So to say I was a little nervous is quite an understatement. It took some time to adjust to the new learning approach, COVA, that was modeled in this program. In the first couple of courses, EDLD 5302 & 5303, I began the process of learning how to take ownership of my learning and create projects that were meaningful and unique for my audience. These courses helped me gauge my current level of digital literacy and participation in professional learning communities to use as a reference point to determine my progress in the end. Additionally, this was the starting point of creating my ePortfolio and my first ever blogging experience. I have to admit that in the first course it was very stressful adapting to the online setting and determining what to create for the assignment artifacts I would be posting in my ePortfolio. I was not comfortable having so much freedom and choice in how to interpret each assignment and yearned for examples or just more direction. Little did I know at the time that each course would be this way throughout the program but surprisingly it turned out to be a GOOD thing!
The next course, EDLD 5305, focused on disruptive innovation and is where my innovation project originated. In this course, it was important for me to identify a tech innovation that I could use as a catalyst for change in my organization. After completing research and writing a literature review, I proposed a mobile learning initiative which would serve as the core of my innovation plan. Identifying the technology innovation was difficult and I actually had to scrap my initial ideas, focus more on what disruptive innovation really looked like and its impact, then redo the project. Although it was frustrating, it was necessary because my entire innovation plan would be built upon it. One of the most difficult parts of this course was the research and literature review. It was not my favorite part because this was my first time to write a literature review, therefore it was an especially daunting task. However, investigating technology trends, challenges, and developments in the yearly Horizon reports became quite interesting to read, specifically reading their predictions then looking ahead to see how they unfold.
Since my innovation plan would bring about change, it was necessary for me to learn
leadership skills and strategies, in EDLD 5304, for overcoming and managing resistance to change. In this course, I learned what it means to be a self-differentiated leader as well as developed a 6 Sources of Influence Matrix and 4DX presentation to support my initiative’s goals. Furthermore, figuring out first WHY we need organizational change allowed me to identify my audience and communicate my overall vision for our organization. The hardest part in this course for me was creating the Influence Matrix but I appreciated the concepts presented in the Influencer book. It is a clear and precise method of identifying the goal, goal measures and vital behaviors in order to influence others to change. I can see where both strategies could be applied to reach any other organizational goals, big or small.
The next course on my journey was EDLD 5313, Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE). In the CSLE course, I learned a backward design method using Understanding by Design (UbD) that allowed me to create a course design template for my mobile learning course. I also used Fink’s “A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning” to develop a learning goals outline for the same course. In addition, I published my learning philosophy and discovered the growth mindset and its significant role in the overall learning process. Fortunately, in this course I had the opportunity to read Thomas’ “A New Culture of Learning” and Dweck’s “Mindset: The new psychology of success”. These books were my favorites out of all of the readings in the program because they were enlightening and inspiring. Furthermore, I found that the growth mindset can be applied to other areas of my life, both personally and professionally, and can benefit friends and family, too. I also really enjoyed exploring learning theories and discovering which theories shape my overall learning beliefs and ultimately my learning philosophy.
I have learned that part of planning entails researching and learning from others, locally and globally. It’s essential to look at their implementation processes to find out what works, what could be done better and how to apply the lessons learned. I got the opportunity to research global technological initiatives in EDLD 5314. What I found out from the research is that even the best laid plans will need to be revised and improved upon. Additionally, I discovered that you must have a clear vision and professional development that is ongoing. Because of this research, I was able to refine my plan and clarify the vision I had originally proposed for my organization. Again, I was overloaded in this course with all the reading, research and writing a rather lengthy literature review but I honestly learned a lot from it.
I think for me, EDLD 5315 was one of the most difficult and confusing courses at first mainly because of Hubbard’s book “How to Measure Anything”. The book was filled with too many numbers, formulas, and other information that I struggled to comprehend and relate to the course itself. However, after a few weeks the course goals made sense and I was back on track. I realized that in order to measure the impact my innovation plan had on learning environments in my organization, I needed to figure out what to measure and how to measure it. In this course, I created a Measuring Mobile Learning presentation, adapted a previously published survey & questionnaire, and published the final measurement strategy for our organization. Although I had a rough start in this course, it gave me valuable insights into how feedback can reduce uncertainties and improve plans. The mobile learning literature review guided my choice of appropriate measurement methods and tools to use in our measurement strategy for our organization.
The digital citizenship course, EDLD 5316, was one that I was very much looking forward to. Before this course, I was somewhat familiar with digital citizenship and what it entailed so I was excited to find out more. It’s undeniable that this course was BRIMMING will all things digital citizenship. I had no idea that digital citizenship comprised so many elements; I immediately panicked when I saw the syllabus. At the very start, I began curating digital citizenship resources such as a YouTube playlist, a Pinterest board, and a LiveBinder in order to share what I was learning with peers and others in my organization. I discovered that LiveBinder is a great tool for collecting and storing digital resources and it’s easily shareable. My resource topics include copyright, cyberbullying, and digital footprints. In addition, I created a short PowToon on digital footprints and an original digital citizenship mantra. It was fun creating my mantra and earning my first digital badge! Although every aspect of digital citizenship that was presented in this course is important, I think that the copyright portion made the most impact on me. I immediately went back through my ePortfolio and cited all my graphics, and even had to remove a few. Since then, Creative Commons has been my go to resource for spicing up my blog with pictures or graphics. Needless to say, this course was very overwhelming due to all of the assignments, discussions, and readings but yet a course that I learned so much from.
A lot of the work that I did in EDLD 5317, Resources for Digital Environments, was done behind the scenes so there were only two blog posts for this course. The first post was a video reflection, Digital Technology: Delivering Education Anytime, Anyplace for Anyone, about how digital resources are used for teaching and learning. The majority of the course was outlining and writing an article to submit for publishing in a journal or other online publication. Just the thought of putting myself out there like this was unnerving. For me the hardest part was deciding which publication to submit to and the topic of my article. I decided to write an article about cloud computing and created an elevator pitch using Adobe Spark. Then, I submitted my article to EdSurge for review and after a few weeks they let me know that although the topic was interesting it would not be published. Honestly, I was not surprised it got rejected because the article just wasn’t that good in my opinion and I was unhappy with the topic. Looking back, I wish I would have chosen a different topic, but there’s always a chance to change up what I’ve already written or write something new and resubmit. Consequently, this course helped me realize that sharing your ideas and knowledge is an important part of the learning process and that being a published writer is definitely a possibility for me.
The Instructional Design course, EDLD 5318, was another course that I was looking forward to because I’d like to become an instructional designer in my organization at some point in the future. In this course, we were to develop an online course using a learning management system of our choice, making sure to apply instructional design theories while creating a significant learning environment. Therefore, I developed my online course, Fundamentals of Mobile Learning, in CourseSites using a revised version of the learning goals outline from the CSLE course. I planned to use my online course for professional development in my organization. I really enjoyed this course a lot, especially building the outlines, gathering the course content, and planning activities that would help the learners achieve the course goals. The learning goals outline, the SECTIONS model and Mayer’s multimedia design principles helped me build a course that I believe created a significant learning environment with authentic activities that would promote
active learning and enhance the learner’s overall educational experience. For me this course also reinforced the significance of the backward design process.
My next to last course, EDLD 5388 – Effective Professional Learning, introduced an alternative to our traditional “sit & get” professional development (PD) through the “go & show” model. The part I loved the most about this course was learning the components of effective professional learning and HOW to transform traditional PD. The slide presentation I created about effective professional learning (PL) is a great resource for my organization to share facts from the my research as well as Gulamhussein’s 5 Principles of Effective Professional Development. Using Gulamhussein’s 5 principles, I started an outline for my PL plan. My outline ended up having way too many ideas, no clear direction and lacked important details. I had to come up with a realistic, practical plan that would suit our faculty and that could be implemented successfully. I finally developed a PL plan for our campus that I think will be one of the first things I work on as part of my innovation plan. I look forward to seeing how it turns out and getting feedback from the participants.
Now, here I am in the capstone course taking time to reflect on my whole experience in the program. In addition to everything I’ve absorbed and accomplished in each course, I have learned so much about WordPress, ePortfolios and blogging. My ePortfolio and blog are my favorite parts of the program, hands down. They have also allowed me to extend my Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN) to include others in this program, as well as fellow colleagues in my courses and in my division at work. Looking back it is clear that as I continued on this journey each course was a piece of the puzzle that I was putting together and would complete in the end. Every task and accomplishment was a factor of the overarching goal to become a true digital learner and leader in my organization. Although I have completed the master’s program and intend to graduate in May, my learning and leading journey will continue on.