Leading Edge

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For the last eight weeks, I’ve been working on getting my Leading Edge Certification in online and blended teaching. I know, it sounds fancy. As a teacher, I tend to teach. It’s been strange (in a good way) to be in a formal class where I’m a student. I’m used to learning all the time, thanks to my eduawesome PLN on Twitter and Google+, but having reflections due on a certain date was a huge adjustment. I no longer had the luxury to blog when I was inspired. No, I had to reflect, and reflect now! For as frustrating as it was, I am grateful for the opportunity. I had forgotten what it felt like to have deadlines that affect a grade. As an instructor, it’s so important to be able to relate to students, especially in a blended environment. This factor alone has made the LEC certification worthwhile.

Another huge benefit of this course was seeing how it was managed. I say managed, not taught, because we never sat down and listened to a lecture. Burt Lo facilitated the class without ever lecturing. Instead, he broke the certification into modules and kept us moving forward. Most modules had a reading assignment, a discussion, a reflection, and a project. I am amazed at how Burt was able to connect with each of us by simply leaving thoughtful comments on everything submitted. On more than one occasion, I found his comments of my reflection more insightful than my original reflection. As I begin to implement changes into my teaching practice, Burt’s management style will definitely creep in to my courses.

A new section of EDUC 514 began this week, and I’m already implementing what I’ve learned. The course is designated face-to-face, which means that most of the meetings need to be in person. Notice that is says “most” and not “all”. So, a few of my classes will be online, both synchronous and asynchronous. When we meet online, I will use three sites to connect: Google+ Hangouts for the video chat, Today’s Meet for the backchannel, and my EDUC 514 website. My class will also connect in our new Google+ Community. The blended syllabus now includes a weekly assignment that requires students to participate in the G+ Community. Even though I find weekly discussion forums annoying as a student, I now see the value in genuine dialog. My goal in that Community is to foster relationships and craft questions that demand reflection and thought.

After eight weeks of learning, my head hurts. I’ve already implemented so much into the courses I’m currently teaching. I am expecting that it will take a few more weeks to unpack all that I’ve learned, and even longer for it to sink in. By the time that happens, I will be starting another Leading Edge Certification. This time, I will be learning about becoming a Digital Educator. I’m looking forward to blending (hehe, blending) my knowledge from this past course into the new one.

Edge of the world