An Identity Crisis and a Fresh Start

Spring break is officially over. The light is at the end of the tunnel; 8 weeks until summer. And here I am sitting at a crossroad in my professional career.

For the last 6 years, I have identified as an English Teacher.
For the last 3 years, I have identified as a graduate student.

Once May comes and goes, both of these things will no longer be a part of my present, they will be a part of my past.

When it comes to the Grad school, I won’t miss the homework, I won’t miss staying up until midnight cramming the last bits of research and APA formatting to make the final touches on a project. I won’t miss the constant due dates looming over my head. But I’m a learner, and I thrive in that environment. In many ways, the last three years of grad school have taught me more about myself as a learner than all of my previous years of undergrad. I finally found my calling, my niche, my tribe.

When it comes to teaching English, I won’t miss the hours of grading essays; I won’t miss re-reading novels and articles I’ve read 8 times just to sharpen my lessons; I won’t miss the late work, or even the excuses that come with it. But the last 6 years have taught me so much about being an educator that I can’t help but wonder how I ever survived my first years of teaching.

I could list thank yous to every administrator, teacher, and student that has had an immediate and lasting impact on me, but I know that there isn’t time for that. So now, it’s not about looking in the past and reminiscing or missing, it’s about taking every opportunity I have in front of me to continue the work of a passionate educator.

It’s a bittersweet moment. I am in a liminal state of trying to find where I belong, of where I fit, of where I call home in a school. But I know having the experience of teaching for the last 6 years and completing my Master’s in Information and Learning Technologies has armed me with the tools I need to begin this new journey. To pave the way for my next adventure.

Onward and upward. In education, the journey is so much more important than the destination. It’s time to embrace my own motto of:

“True education is a kind of never ending story — a matter of continual beginnings, of habitual fresh starts, of persistent newness.” ~Tolkien

To everyone who has helped me, guided me, counseled me, laughed with me, here’s to you. Here’s to my never ending story!

Makerspace Infographic

I’ve been working this summer on a class devoted to media literacy and maker spaces. As part of my final project for the class, I played around with making an infographic. This is created with Google Drawings and it’s adapted from the “Maker Space Playbook School Edition” by Maker Media (2013).  It’s been fun to  play with making infographics, and I hope that I can continue to do some more!

Maker Space Infographic

You’re MOOCing Me Crazy!

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are paving the way to education and access for students who may not be able to afford college. I love the disruption that MOOCs are presenting to the higher education field.

I don’t know if I can say whether or not MOOCs will lead to a new degree granting program, or if they are just a fad, but it seems that MOOCs are doing something pretty brilliant: providing open access to information that previously reserved for elite students with money.

From the readings for my graduate class, I found that “The Professors Behind the MOOCs” highlighted some very interesting perspectives coming from the professors themselves.  In the survey of professors who created and operated MOOCs, almost 85% of the professors thought that MOOCs would either marginally or significantly reduce the cost of attaining a college degree. In a time and place when college tuition is raising every year, sometimes by astronomical percentages, MOOCs have the ability to lessen that load.

Another statistic that was staggering to me was that, although professors didn’t always feel that students should get formal credit from their institution, the majority of the professors believed MOOCs to be worth the hype. Regardless of the credit, MOOCs are causing a stir among teachers and professors and it’s presenting an interesting dichotomy of paying for information or having it readily available to anyone who wants to get it.

Now, MOOCs do provide challenges for learning, and there are many people who have documented the downfalls or pitfalls of MOOCs, but if we follow Siemens understanding of connectivism in a MOOC, we can see the value in participating in MOOCs as a community. We will see, in time, if MOOCs will be the positive disruption that I believe they can be.

Open access to information; learning in a community; individualized learning plans. Seems like a great thing to me.

The Hype of New Tech

All too often, the newest and greatest tech tool comes out and people flock en masse to buy it, review it, disassemble it, and claim its superiority over everything. While the diffusion process takes some time to play out, there will always be the innovators and early adopters who will pave the way for others to see the benefits.

Although the product category of wearable technology is established, it’s still a relatively new concept. In thinking about the Apple Watch’s imminent release to the public, I am intrigued by how the status of Apple will possibly create a more popular category.

I’ve spoken with several people who have wearable Android Wear watches and they always say they love them; however, they also will say that it’s not really necessary at all. Now if something isn’t necessary, why is there a drive to release new products into the category?

I know that smartwatches are already making their impact on the education field because of their connectivity and accessibility to the internet. Smartwatches are already being banned from testing rooms to reduce the urge to cheat.  What is interesting to me is that Apple is creating disruption in the category (again) by its later release into the category. Android first announced its smart watch last spring, and it didn’t create the same buzz as the Apple Watch is currently generating.

When we look back to education and tech tools, it’s important to remember that it isn’t about the latest and greatest, it’s about the teacher and students using tools for learning. It’s never about the technology. It’s always about the teaching.