In MDDE 610, Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications, we were required to create a mini-portfolio documenting each week of the course. We were provided with freedom to choose our platform, and to use it as a means to capture our learning journey in the course. We were encouraged to "make notes, take screen shots, or even make a short video of what you learned. Reflect on how you might use each technology in general or each specific application in particular in your own personal and professional life." (MDDE 610, n.d.).
And so now, let me just say....Ooooh. How meta. A post about ePortfolios from my mini-portfolio, in my program portfolio. In all seriousness though, this assessment was perfectly timed for me. It allowed me the time and space to develop some of the skills I would require for the capstone project. More, it gave me practice in the process of inquiry, integration and reflection, so critical to this current project. I was also just pretty darn proud of it when it was done. It looked good, it was good.
On thinking back to this course, I admit that at the outset I felt like I "knew it all". As an instructional technologist at a mid-sized Canadian university, where I am one person working alongside 800 faculty, I have had the fortunate opportunity to experiment with pretty much every educational technology you can imagine. As this was a required course, however, I had no alternative. That being said, while my work has offered me a breadth of experience with this subject matter, this course allowed me the opportunity to slow down and take a slightly deeper diver into each area of study. More, the act of reflecting on each learning experience in the portfolio meant that I had to contemplate each in a way that I hadn't before, and it forced me to write a few things that I had been thinking about for some time, yet had never taken a pause to express. A perfect example was the most of learning management systems. It is no secret that I am not a fan. While I understand the benefit of a common platform for instructors and learners, I have most often maintained that these systems are about "management" and not "learning". This activity, though, meant I had to move beyond this sound byte, and more deeply contemplate and then synthesize my thinking on the topic. However, I did find this course difficult in other ways, mainly as I found the content felt so outdated. Talking about "Web 2.0", and the "cloud" felt like yesterday, and so I had difficulty staying motivated and engaged at times. If a portfolio, though, is also supposed to inspire inquiry, I did try and take the best of what we were learning and take it further - to push myself despite my feeling that it was lack-luster. A good example of this was during week 10 and the discussion of cloud computing. It was a rough week for me personally due to a death in my family, but more, talking about the "cloud" left me feeling bored. But I scoured the Internet and came upon a post by Audrey Watters, entitled "Is it time to give up on computers in schools?", which pushed beyond the boundaries of our class discussion, and served as a potent reminder as to why inquiry is so important. I was reminded that with a move to the "cloud", comes issues of data, privacy. That networks can serve as instruments of surveillance. And so this is what I was able to write about.
Aside from the study and learning about various educational technologies, more importantly, in my decision to create my portfolio outside of the LMS, I was forced to finally face my fears about writing out in the "open". Of course, I didn't see many page hits in those early days, but this activity set me on a path to be more intentional in sitting down, on occasion, to spit out my muddled thoughts from my busy brain and get them on a page. Admittedly, I still don't blog as much as I would like. At least not here. I probably "write" at least a blog post a day in my head, but it does take some time and effort to sit down and compose those thoughts here, and given that they most often come to me in the middle of the night, it is not always convenient, nor realistic. But, I won't give up. When it really matters, I will endeavor to come back here and write. For me.
I decided right away that I would not work in the AU portfolio platform, Mahara. My decision was guided by not wanting to see my work get trapped behind a login, and more, I thought it would just be "good practice" to work in the open. More, as with many assignments over the course of the program, I have always attempted to find synergies between my studies and my work, or at least to use each opportunity I could to develop new and useful skills. At first I decided to use WordPress - learning more that the basics about this platform has been on my professional "to do" for the last 2 years! However, in the end, due to my other big need - that of work/life balance - I opted for a site where I could design with ease, and therefore the learning curve would not be terribly time consuming. I ended up in Weebly. I have no recollection for how I arrived at this decision, but I have been here ever since, though with my own domain. It is now my professional development goal for 2018 to port all of my content out and back into WordPress. Wish me luck.
Perhaps the best way to close this reflection is with an excerpt from my mini-portfolio -