Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reflection...Good Times!

Final Blog Posting…for EDES 545 : (
Blog Posting #11-Reflection
Well…I have written about reflection several times in my previous blogs. I see reflection as a great tool for personal growth and professional development. I am glad that I can now reflect on the happenings in EDES 545!
Highlights of my Learning:
Now that I look back on the long journey through this course I realize how much I learned and, of that, what I will carry with me throughout my career as a Teacher-Librarian. When I first read the name of this course, “Information technologies for Learning” I was not overcome by enthusiasm. I must say…I was one of those teachers who was a little hesitant to drive on the technology highway (so to speak). My integration of technology consisted of teaching my students how to look up a book title or the works of an author on the library computer. Now, I feel much more confident in this area and I must admit I am looking forward to converting many of my colleagues into “techies”. So, the biggest highlight of this course for me was gaining confidence in my ability to use Web 2.0 tools in my library.
Collaboration is another highlight for me as it was hugely beneficial in my journey as well. I am used to reading an article for a class and having to dissect it on an individual basis, and then having the familiar feeling of, “Am I understanding this correctly?” I once even tried to have my mom read one of my course articles so we could converse about it and I could see if she would come from the same perspective…she did! What I am trying to say is that having the opportunity to follow up an article with collaboration now seems almost essential in the learning process for me. I would read an article, connect it to my life and teaching experiences, read what others thought and then discuss! The collaborative aspects of this course were definitely one of the highlights for me.
Another highlight from this course was how useful it was in preparing me for my future role as a Teacher-Librarian. Not only did I learn what that role entailed, but I also learned tools that I could use for the rest of my teaching career. I learned about the tools, researched them and even got to use them in this course. The saying “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,” makes sense to me, but I think it should include, “Fish with a man.” I am a firm believer that in order to truly learn something you must do it. This course has taken inquiry-based learning methods and given me an opportunity to really learn by doing. I now have the tools to create my own wikis, podcasts, blogs etc… into my library and teach them to my colleagues. These are tools I can take everywhere with me.
The last highlight I will mention is that this course has really taught me that information technology really can transform learning! We no longer live in a world where text-base, pencil and paper teaching will prepare our students to be successful and productive members of society. Our everyday lives are bombarded with technological innovations that have preceded us and will continue to. In order for our students to walk proudly and confidently and feel prepared for this world they must be information literate. Information literacy skills are imperative in preparing for the jobs that are available to our youth today. We must start teaching these skills to our students at a very young age. This course not only exaggerated this idea, but also helped prepare me to prepare my students and colleagues in these skills. I now have the ability to use the appropriate resources to teach this generation of students how to effectively use the technological tools they were born into.
This course has been tremendous in my Professional Development as a teacher and I look forward to using all of the tools in my future. I cannot say that about many of the University courses I have taken!
Lowlights of my Learning:
The lowlights of EDES 545 are a lot more difficult to come up with. Obviously the first would be the amount of time, effort and frustration it took me to learn and perfect the tools. Creating my blog was very challenging at first because I had never “blogged” before and I did not know if I would enjoy it. Once I figured out what was expected of me I did find blogging easier, but weekly blogs still plagued me in my sleep!
Another lowlight of my learning is this course is the fact that it is ending and all of the collaboration that took place is going with it. The constant ideas and feedback from peers was not only relevant to my present job, but also very interesting and entertaining. I will miss hearing stories about others libraries and gaining valuable insight from those whom have been in this profession a lot longer than I have.
The last lowlight I will mention is that this course was online. I think about taking this course in a classroom environment where I could see examples of the tools being used and contribute directly to live conversations. There is something to be said for face-to-face contact and learning and I really do feel that I would have gained more valuable insight with personal interactions in EDES545.
I cannot say that any of these lowlights would ever sway me from recommending this course to others as they were only minor setbacks. Even the lowlights weren’t that bad!!!

Future Plans:
When I initially started this course I didn’t really know the full role that a Teacher-Librarian played in their school. Now that I am more aware and confident of this role, I have no doubts about continuing in this field. This is my first year as a TL and I will definitely be continuing as a TL in the future. My immediate plan is to complete my coursework so I can be professionally trained as a TL and then continue to work to work in my District. I would love to become more involved in the integration of technology in our libraries and I will find a way to do this. I have even considered starting a blog on integrating technology into Elementary libraries so I can network and gain insight from people all around the world. I will definitely try to incorporate the web 2.0 tools I have learned into my current school. I plan on beginning the foundation for a library website in my school that contains links to several outside sources that my students and colleagues can use for resources for their own Professional Development. My future plan is to have my own library that has a traditional community-like feeling, but a modern outlook on incorporating technology into schools.
I have already circulated several of the articles I have discovered through EDES 545 and I will continue to do so. Joyce Valenza’s work has been inspiring and I definitely want to learn from much more of her work. I would like to introduce my colleagues to some of her podcasts as I think they are impressive and beneficial to all teachers.
I have learned as much from others in this class as I have learned from the articles and Professors. Through constant collaboration I have learned and incorporated several ideas into my library already. For example I have recently introduced a comfy reading corner where students are welcome any time of the day to sit and read or just reflect. Several of us collaborated on this idea and a few course members suggested similar situations in their libraries. I have found that my students love knowing they can come to the library just to think and take a breather. I always thought of my library as having an open-door policy, but through the suggestions of my peers I have realized there is much more I can do to promote this idea.
All in all from day one until now this class has been a lot of work, but very beneficial. It is by far one of the only classes I have ever taken that I am leaving knowing I will use most of what I have learned. Initially I doubted my own ability or interest in learning about technology, but now I have the confidence to continue building this knowledge. When collaboration and blogs were being built I thought to myself, “These people must have taken some introductory course that I have never heard of.” Beautiful, professional blogs were created out of nothing and all of a sudden an empty WebCT section was transformed into a world of information. I did not feel as though I was contributing to this and so I had to take extreme measures and re-learn the basics of creating a blog. With some help from others blogs and some trial and error I eventually created a somewhat comparable blog. I feel as if I will perfect it in the future for self-satisfaction. Maybe a few strays will pass by and be impressed by what I have done through learning about Web 2.0 tools.
So goodbye for now….but not for long!

1 comment:

Val said...

Hi Jean: Neat to see you asked your mom to read an article and converse about it. That would have been a fun exercise. The collaboration was a highlight for me, doing the wiki, as well as learning so much from everyone in the course. I loved how we could throw a quesion out and get some many thoughtful answers. The discussion sessions were also a highlight for me.

Great job on your perserverance. Like you I am a part time TL in my first year as TL and was awakened to the amazing role we can play in our school. I find that exhilarating.

You are so right that information technology can transform learning. What a great experience we've had.
All the best with the last 1/4.