Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blogging to Learn – A Reflection

Writing this blog has been a meaningful and worthwhile learning experience. The process has truly been one of Inquiry. While researching and writing blog posts, I found myself connecting with and progressing through Alberta Learning’s Focus On Inquiry stages, identifying with the elements of the affective domain. Although creating this blog consumed a considerable chunk of my time available for homework, I was motivated and excited about my learning; driven by questions and able to construct knowledge based on my research and experiences. I now have a product that I feel I can refer to and share with others to continue to build understanding.

I felt very intimidated creating my first few posts, mostly because of the audience. I found it challenging to move from the relative privacy of an (online) classroom to the public realm of the internet. It took me a few weeks to find my “blogging voice” as I was uncertain about my online identity and concerned about the quality of my writing. A turning point for me in understanding the value of blogging was when Will Richardson commented on one of my early posts; I suddenly realized the potential for and the power of connection and knowledge sharing in blogging. Reading blogs, commenting, and reading and responding to the comments on my blog, soon became a highlight for me. I only wished I had more time to read more thoroughly and respond in more detail.

Frustration in this process came in the form of technical challenges. I am relatively new to technology (I made my first hyperlink just 6 months ago) and while many of the tools we explored were user-friendly, there were many late nights and early mornings where I was struggling: stumped at how to get the technology to work. Online tutorials, referring to Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms and reading the blogs of others were a great help. Having a deadline was necessary, but at times, incredibly stressful. (I certainly wish I had read the course outline more carefully to realize I had two weeks for pod-casting instead of one!) Although pod-casting was the biggest technological challenge for me, I think there is tremendous potential for this tool to transform teaching and learning. I intend to make further attempts at pod-casting this summer, perhaps using a Mac computer, in order to feel more comfortable using it with my students.

I learned a great deal from reading the blogs of my classmates. My del.icio.us bookmarking site (invaluable) is rich with sources I have gathered from these blogs. Many design ideas and techniques to enhance blogs (screen shots for example-thanks Ronda and John!) have come from the blogs of my classmates. I have enjoyed and learned from the different writing styles and the various choices for blog software. I have set up a new blog on Edublogs to use with my colleagues for professional development where I plan to use many of the blogging techniques I have learned from the clever and innovative folks in this course.

Overall, the creation and management of this blog to explore the use of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom has been significant in my learning, albeit challenging. As a result of researching, experimenting, reflecting and writing to complete this blogging assignment, I feel confident using many of these tools in my teaching and am prepared to help others to learn to use them. Although I am a bit exhausted from the pace, I am entirely grateful for this experience as it has inspired me to begin integrating technology into my teaching in more effective, collaborative ways and to continue to blog and read blogs, connecting with other learners.

1 comment:

Val said...

HI Elizabeth: Nice new look to your blog. Green is my favourite colour so I'm happy to see you and Cindy liking it as well.

Great reflection. Alberta's Focus on Inquiry Based Learning was the first document the outgoing TL gave me late last year. It is tremendous isn't it? Another great one is SD 44 (North Vancouver) and New West's all on the same page. Langley has a strong document we use in the library as well "Library Information Skills - Survival Guide" complete with scope and sequence by grade, lesson plans and objectives etc. Worth the cost when you head into the library.

The podcast was my most difficult challenge as well, and I see by other posts we are not the only ones. I think where I'm at right now I would use podcasts for learning (listening to them) but likely use voicethread for recording students voice (via ed.voicethread). I hope to venture back to podcasts eventually.

Thank you for sharing your family with us. I loved the pictures, the comments and the insight your children offered us. It was great!

Sorry that you went through such personal sad times during this course. My heart goes out to you, your husband and your family.

I hope that the island ladies still plan to get together in May.
Have a great rest of the year.
Cheers
Val