Learning with Digital Stories: Final Portfolio and Course Reflection

July 30, 2016

Well this is it. Eight weeks of work at an intense pace is complete. This is my final course reflection of this challenging and rewarding expereince that turned my brain into soup. Hopefully it will congeal before the fall semester starts.

My final portfolio can be found on Storify: Learning with Digital Stories: Final Portfolio

As a Learner in This Course

I could go over the tools we used to learn in this class, but they are just that–tools. Most of our work was completed using Hypothesis annotation and our own websites/blogs. The learning process is different for everyone. Sure we all worked toward the same goals, but the paths each of us took to achieve those goals were our own. I found this looser guided method of learning more beneficial as a student as it allowed me to explore their own interests within the context of the goals of the class. It is a less restrictive or didactic way to learn. Learning is wonder and discovery something that is lost in a traditional top-down approach.

Another aspect of learning is sharing. We are all connected and can share our ideas and creations anytime and anywhere. This practice along with a more open student-guided structure to learning itself opens the doors for idea generation and a more collaborative and supportive environment in which to learn. By exploring these more open course designs and technologies, we increase the diversity of ideas and solutions as learning becomes less of a linear pursuit and more of a dynamic, open and collaborative one.

I enjoyed the open approach to the class. It has been a new experience that took me a couple of weeks to adjust. I have always felt that traditional education was too limiting. Expecting everyone to learn the same things in the same way is a sure-fire way to frustrate students into a pattern of going through the motions to pass the class. That isn’t learning, it’s a chore. I would hope that the same freedoms and ideas toward learning will be apparent as I continue with grad school.

Learning through being networked into other communities gives me a greater sense of the subject matter. Having access to countless diverse and dynamic ideas and discussions creates a better understanding of the topic and of the myriad of people engaged in those discussions. I have found it to be an enriching and empowering experience, not one I will dismiss anytime soon.

My Co-Design of the Course

This class–Learning with Digital Stories–is my third graduate level course. It’s the first class to overtly proclaim its open student-driven nature. I went into my first semester classes with the same attitude that I relied on during my undergrad and previous schooling. Being used to the lecture, reading, test structure of learning, I have been in a period of adjustment these last seven months. I have been unlearning my past experiences with education while re-learning how to learn the learning that I am to learn 🙂

When I chose to focus on video games at the start, I thought that it might be tough to discuss the medium within the context of my initial understanding of the class. But that worry was immediately dashed as I realized how readily I was able to find correlations between video games and what we were learning. Forcing myself to dig deep to find connections between our assignments and my focal theme was challenging and rewarding.

I appreciated being able to direct my own learning and sharing that process with my student cohorts. We have all contributed to the development of this course–from the dynamic discussions of the readings made possible by using the annotation tool Hypothesis to each students ability to pursue their own interests in concert with the course goals. Sharing our assignments, ideas and solutions created a sense of community as it is something that we built over the last eight weeks. Something we should be proud of.

My Understanding of Pedagogy

As I have said before, I am new to this type of learning. The course design was foreign to me. The instructors: Remi Holden and Lisa Dise created an open, yet structured environment for students to participate. The design of the course will inevitably change as new technologies and socially networked behaviors change. But that’s the beauty of treading new ground–exploration and discovery. As long as the main thrust of the course remains dynamic, diverse and open, there is no reason it can’t succeed into the future and all dimensions beyond.

I am not an educator, so a word like pedagogy makes me raise an eyebrow as a Vulcan will do when humans were behaving illogically. I understand its meaning as methods and practices of teaching, so I have that much going for me. I have come to understand issues facing education today and the ideas driving the research of more open and networked methods of learning and teaching.

My idea of an instructor has changed drastically. The decentralized and dynamic approach to teaching was a great experience with this class. Rather than of having to work toward an instructor’s expectations, I had to work toward my own. It made the learning experience more meaningful and engaging.

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