Connected Pro-D

ECI 831 Final Project

My Final Reflective Summary Video

I have completed my reflective summary piece for this class. I have posted it to Youtube but it is also here if you are interested in hearing about where my learning led me in this class.


My Final Project Wiki

Reflection #1

INITIAL Purpose and Goals:

  • Explore what it means to build, create, manage, link and control my own digital and professional identity
  • Share professional knowledge and resources with other teachers in my school division and with others in the larger connected educational community (which is a large part of my role as a consultant)
  • create a unified space to house and showcase growth as a professional: reflective practice, creating and sharing materials and presentations, learning and practising new skills related to teaching and learning

I wanted to first and foremost explore more deeply what it meant for me to be an intential participant in constructing and managing my own digital identity, especially professionally. I am fully aware that people that might not even know me are able to “look me up” with a simple google search. This is powerful, knowing that I interact with many teachers, sometimes only at inservices or conferences, and they may recall something I said or talked about and want to re-connect with me to find out more. Having a professional presence online is part of networking practice in this time in our history. It is no longer enough to have a paper business card (although I do have these also). Creating this hub to house my professional presence is my digital business card that can potentially be seen and shared with so many more people than I could even imagine.

I wanted the chance to discover what one needs to think about as they try to build and manage this presence, so that I can share with others the importance of starting this practice early in your career. It will certainly be something I share as a possibility with new teachers that I mentor when talking about reflecting on their practice and sharing what they create with others in new ways. I can’t help but think that something like this will take the place of application forms and 2 page resumes as a more comprehensive and wholistic view of a teacher’s professional practice. Our instructor, Alec Couros, has compiled his professional practice into a similar piece of digital evidence, and I think it is a nice example of the power of this kind of tool to tell a much more realistic story. What might even expand the power of a digital showcase of professional work, is if there is a space for colleagues to share their opinions and “testimonials” if you will, about how it has improved their learning by being able to work alongside or with the help of the materials and expertise of you. Dean Shareski has something like this on his space that made me think about this component – it would be really great to capture student, parent, colleague, administrator views of your work as well to round it out.

I find that I am often contacted by teachers to provide them with resources, links and suggestions that support their teaching subject. I have done this work, but then only send it to the person directly asking. I tought about how I could combine this part of my professional work with a tool such as a wiki – where I am not the only one providing material, but also other colleagues, who perhaps have even more expertise and awareness of the best tools, resources and sites that they have used in their own practice. I have built the framework, and now am hoping that teachers in my division and in my extended learning network will be able to keep adding to it as they find good pieces. I realize that to get it started, I am going to have to share my site with others and ask for input and that it won’t just happen by posting it to the world wide web. Maybe each person from our ECI 831 class can add a piece that fits with their area of expetise to kick things off??!!! I will also ask my consultant colleagues to add some material.

Lastly, I wanted a space to house evidence of my professional growth this year, and into the future. I am asked to create a Professional Growth Plan and to keep track of evidence gathered through the year that demonstrates how I have attained my goals, as well as work that I am asked to do with teachers in my division to support our targeted initiatives. I have seen other examples of professional portfolios from my colleagues that are binders with outlines of presentations, paper versions of slide decks from PD sessions they have led, and written feedback from particpants, along with pictures from classrooms they have worked in as evidence of their work over the year. I wanted to capture something similar, but in a digital form, that would allow for more options and a chance for more than just myself and my supervisor to see it. So- this is another dimension to why I wanted to build this space.

I just hope that what I have started to build can be sustained and gains some momentum! 🙂

3 Responses to 'ECI 831 Final Project'

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  1. Delise Fathers said,

    Response #2 – Unintended Learnings
    Although I had identified areas where I knew I wanted or needed to learn more about in order to complete my project, I also realize that there were some unintended learnings that happened for me, namely:

    1. The importance of pre-planning and having a basic plan to start: I say this because I had some ideas, and just started hammering them out, but then spent a lot of time having to go back and re-think entirely what I wanted it to look like and how I wanted to be able to progress from page to page, etc. Had I spent a few minutes longer in pre-planning (maybe even with some sort of story board/web page map planning tool) I would have saved myself some time and heartache later. I also think that having something like this might have kept me “on track” and focused more when I was at times. I would have been able to break down the work into manageable pieces each time I had time to work on it.
    2. The importance of collaboration: I did share my ideas and plans with a few other people even when it seemed quite nebulous to me, which was in the end very good. They helped me sort through what I thought I wanted and gave me ideas about how it might look and what tools to use to achieve that look. Most of this collaboration was done in person, with pen and paper to help sketch out what I was saying and tying to describe, before I even started building. I also appreciated the power of feedback and collaboration when I did have a version built to start sharing with colleagues in our class. Their feedback was beneficial as it affirmed some of my decisions (to add pictures to each page as it is more interesting to look at) and to think about design elements that I overlooked when you are in a hurry to just get it built at a first go round (bolding the letters in my page directory on my wiki so it showed up better).
    3. It takes time and space for me to be “creative” and to build digital artifacts: What I learned and re-affirmed about myself as a learner is the reality that I work best when I have had time to mull over “the big picture” for awhile before even beginning… which I have the luxury of doing right now as I drive at least 2 hrs each day (and there is even so much CBC radio I can listen to in one day!) so I had lots of time to build it in my mind’s eye before I even sat down at the computer. This is hard to assess from anyone else’s standpoint, because they can only really see the final product (and maybe the dates and times I edited my wiki pages) and it makes me aware of how we, as teachers, rely so much of our assessment evidence on the final product without taking time to hear/see/understand about all the background planning, thought and tinkering that went into making what seems to most as something simple, easy and quick to build. Another part of this learning was figuring out how and where to go when I did not know how to do something in wordpress, wikispaces or flickr… it takes more time to be a self-motivated learner as you have to be willing to take the time to watch a few tutorial videos, read a few FAQ pages about your issue, etc before getting the “simple, quick and easy” feel of the work! Additionally, I also learned that I work best in larger chunks of time, rather than in 15 minute pieces here and there. I was my most productive and focused when I knew that I had a few hours to devout to working on the project and essentially blocked my attention from other distracters (like email) until I got some work done!

  2. Delise Fathers said,

    Response #3: Technical and Media Literacy Skills I Honed
    Coming into this class and thinking about my technological skill set, I knew that I came with a decent tool box. I was comfortable with digital photography and using it to make digital stories, I was ok with the microphone headset and working with basic audio files. I also had built online courses in Moodle and Blackboard and had a comfort level with using video-conferencing tools for instruction. What has always been a weakness has been video capture, editing and production (and sadly, still is…however I have most recently this week taken my flip video camera out of its box in my desk drawer and took it to a school to record a guest speaker I had lined up for them… now I have to figure out how to get it off the camera and into some decent form of a video!) Blogging and wikispace building and use was a new experience for me, although I had seen them and briefly experimented with them before. I decided to use these two tools as my area of growth in relation to technology tools and media literacy. I found that through this project I learned the most about (and still wonder the most about) the following:
    1. I learned the differences between and the limitations of both a blog and wikispace: In thinking about how I wanted my final space to look and work as, I realized that a blog has limited abilities to act as a web-page like presence and is better used as a journal and reflective space. People are not allowed to add to it in a collaborative way, other than to reply to posts. They can’t help build the content of pages like they can in a wiki, and I think that this kind of collaboration is important and is what I was hoping to compile when creating a space to house frequently used resources. I wondered about the ability to create different blogs within one blog site, as I wanted a space for book reviews, a space for more general thoughts, etc. After much exploration of FAQ websites and tutorials about wordpress, I came to realize that this could not be done. The only way to separate blog content is to create the categories you need for each different topic you want to blog about and they can be organized that way. I had hoped that you could create a new page for each new topic in the blog and that it would start a new blog thread on each of those pages… but alas! And I also learned that I was not the only one in the world wondering this same thing!!! Overall, I am happy with the choice of using a wiki for my “main web page” and then linking out from there to my blog, a future youtube channel, etc.
    2. I am still left wondering about how to properly credit photos and videos used on blog and wiki spaces: I was happy to discover when I was in Flickr looking for the particulars of a picture I wanted to use on my blog that you could click on the “blog this” symbol and it allowed you to link it right to your blog once you wrote the basic entry there. It came up with the name and a link to the flickr site where the picture was found. I ended up using that as a default way to use flickr images in my blog for the remainder of my entries. But is this the “right” way? Is there a conventional method that is out there in the multi-media creatisphere that dictates in more formal formats or rules how to do this??? I also ended up saving the image in flickr, then inserting it with a hotlink directly to the flickr page when you click on the picture as my way to credit the source and still make it graphically pleasing and not hard to position on the wikipage.
    3. I am feeling out and learning more about what is pleasing and attractive and works on a virtual web space: After the chance to design and build a web space that can be more personalized than what I had experienced in the past (moodle or blackboard courses – highly limited…and ancient versions of basic Dreamweaver built web pages) and visiting and viewing more sites, I am realizing that designing for a web product has some basic MUSTS for me – namely that they be kept as simple and as uncluttered as possible. As well, use a few key colors, clean and simple fonts and no flashing or animation to distract and annoy you! Keep the pages in a logical sequence and provide easy access to content on other pages with a menu that is easy to read and find, and to keep scrolling down on pages to a minimum because most people don’t scroll too far down before losing interest or being frustrated. I also wanted to be very diligent in providing a balance between text and images, so that the visual supported and enhanced the text and to provide a break from long reams of written text.
    4. I learned the importance of tagging and linking: This is one of the KEY things I learned by creating this artifact. I learned the importance of tagging things with the appropriate representative word that might come up in a search so that it might be found and shared by others and how intentional a process that is. I also learned how it is important to provide built in links from the text on the pages I create to other sites and resources that can be easily found and consulted for further information. This is such a powerful tool as it makes what you build so much richer. The hard part is trying to guess what people might be interested in knowing more about to link to and what words best describe what you are building to use as a tag. It is part marketing and you want to capitalize on what others might be interested in and categorize the work as. Tagging requires a synthesis skill set and I can see how this kind of skill would need to be explicitly taught to students as a natural extension to creating anything that they think they might want others to find on the web.

  3. Delise Fathers said,

    Response #4 – Where I Will Head From Here
    I anticipate that the creation of this artifact will lead into the following areas of continued exploration and growth for me:
    • Continuing to add content to the wiki and to share it with as many others as possible so they can help me build the resource
    • Continue to explore the idea of a digital cv/portfolio and what that might look like for me in my continued journey and development of my own digital identity and evidence of professional growth. I think this area has huge potential for me, as I work with new teachers in my division who may feel more comfortable creating and trying such a space to showcase their professional growth, work and practice. I would like to find ways to work with pre-service and new teachers to help build capacity in this area also.
    • I also can see myself taking some time to participate and build a space in flikr, taking more digital pictures myself, providing feedback to others whose images I really like, and exploring that aspect of being connected in a learning network.
    • I want to continue to build my knowledge and skills around video work. It really is an area that I know needs some time and attention paid to it so I can truly get my feet wet and do some work with it. My dog Max would be an ideal and willing subject for hours of footage, I have a feeling! 

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