ETEC 590 ePortfolio

Author: Michele Brannon-Hamilton

 

~ ~ A Reflection ~ ~

The Quest

I chose the metaphor of a quest to symbolize my journey through the Master of Educational Technology Degree (MET) because it best describes my search for knowledge and understanding in the mysterious world of technology.

Traditionally, a quest is a search or journey to find something. I began this degree with the objective of combining my love of writing, education and technology. I believed integrating my three interests would lead me to a new and exciting career as an expert in a new area of education. I borrowed the idea of a never ending story because I believe in the pursuit of lifelong learning.

As with any journey, first you need to know where you are going and what you want to achieve. Therefore, I gathered my tools, skills and previous knowledge in preparation for my journey.

The Preparation

You must begin a quest with a foundation, a set of skills to guide you through challenges and decisions. Therefore, I gathered together a collection of tools I had acquired throughout my life including the following:

  • problem solving skills
  • a little bit of html coding
  • research skills
  • well-defined writing ability
  • a healthy dose of curiosity
  • a positive attitude and an open mind
  • a new laptop with a high speed wireless connection and a printer

 To this, I soon added:

  • a few required textbooks
  • links to new knowledge
  • the theory of adult education and
  • the principles of good teaching

I began my journey in ETEC 520 Planning and Managing Educational Technology which turned out to be a formidable place to start. It was here, I learned how to make decisions based on knowledge, understand the needs of others and plan the various phases of my technological journey. Also, I learned how to decide which tools to take and how my decisions could affect others along the way.

Two thirds of the way through my journey, I began extensive training in the art of research when I signed up for ETEC 500 Research Methods. It was here, I perfected my research skills by learning to discover, understand, analyze, synthesize and evaluate the wisdom of others.

Rogue River, road to Crater Lake

By Oregon State University on Flickr
www.flickr.com/photos/osucommons/3680180206/in/photostream/

The Journey

MET definitely became a journey into an unknown land, a land of technology and digital media. On this journey, I have encountered new worlds where I have traveled through learning management systems, blogs, wikis and websites to name just a few unknown places.

I have met fellow travellers, wise guides and even heroes along the way while overcoming formidable challenges. Great people have helped guide me when I was lost, translated languages for me when I didn’t understand and collaborated with me to build towers of knowledge. Together we then used this new information to assist others in their own journeys.

Along the way, I entered several new worlds.

In ETEC 510 Design, I put theory into practice while designing educational environments. It was here I learned how to use aspects of theory to design material that would engage students and adhere to educational pedagogy.

In ETEC 565 Selection and Design, I entered into the world of social media where I was trained in blogs, wikis and various types of social media. Collaborating with others, furthered my knowledge and designing learning environments helped perfect my skills. It was here I practiced what I learned and saw the magic of technology transform educational environments into active learning spaces.

In ETEC 522 Ventures, I found myself in an unknown land of the business side of educational technology. At first, I was unfamiliar with the landscape and the language but with the help of others I soon found myself fascinated with new ventures. It was here I learned how to look beyond the surface of educational technology into the world of financial decision making and investment.

In ETEC 532 Art and Humanities, I stopped to ponder what I had learned so far. Reflecting on the skills I had developed, I looked beyond the technology to the culture behind the symbols and tools. It was here, I began to understand the power those holding the technology could inadvertently have over those without. I learned to value diversity and to respect the many cultures of those I would encounter throughout my journey.

Often the journey was fraught with challenges but it was while overcoming obstacles that I discovered the collective wisdom of those also travelling through the world of MET.

Wisdom and Challenges

Challenges

Sometimes the challenges threatened to end my journey before it began. For instance, in my first course I submitted the wrong file for my first assignment. Was my journey over before it began? How would I explain such an error? It would certainly have been easier to quit than to admit my mistake.

Yet, traditionally a quest is hard work and I knew that I would have to overcome many obstacles in order to finish my journey. Therefore, I contacted my professor who allowed me to submit the proper assignment. Inadvertently, this initial challenge helped me realize that it is alright to ask for help. In fact, a wise traveller would.

Other challenges included encountering strange languages like computer coding, business terminology and digital tags. There were misunderstandings, lost files, writer’s block, new software, a new online culture, different ways to communicate and unexplainable computer ‘glitches’ among other difficulties. Yet, I preserved and gained invaluable wisdom along the way.

Wisdom

An inevitable part of any quest is the attainment of something and in this case, it was wisdom and reward. Wisdom came in many forms. Sometimes it was professors describing pedagogy, both traditional and new.

It came through research and practice when I learned how to use new tools like the smart pen, a magical sword in the form of a digital pen which could write and record simultaneously.

Wisdom comes from reflecting on where you have come thus far before deciding where you will go next. So I stopped here awhile.

I reflected on the value of such things as the toolkit activities we were given, the experience of those I had met and the extensive training I had received. I began to understand why Vygotsky believed people learn best in their zone of proximal development. It was in the ‘zone’ that I had gained knowledge while moving along a continuum of understanding. I had started with some knowledge of educational technology but I was now guiding those newer than myself – in true apprenticeship fashion.

In ETEC 511 Foundations, I gathered knowledge from many different areas such as history, sociology and phenomenology in order to see how many pieces came together in the building of educational technology. It was here that I learned to be more open-minded and see that all things connect and nothing exists in isolation.

In ETEC 512 Theory, I stopped to map my journey by gathering the thoughts and theories of educational experts together and placing them onto a representative map. It was here, I came to understand how people learn and why I teach the way I do.

In ETEC 530 Constructivism, I stopped to become familiar with an old friend by gathering together my ideas about teaching and looking closer at the theory that best resembled my own. It was here that I learned how to explain the concepts of active learning, collaboration, communication and interaction in a more scientific fashion.

Perhaps the wisdom I gained can best be described as a basis of collective knowledge created by the many wise people I met along the way. Clearly, we formed a community of practice where we can continue our journeys indefinitely. Wisdom can also be described as a process where patience, perseverance, critical thinking and problem solving skills move us along a learning continuum. In many ways, wisdom is the reward.

The Reward

I started my two year journey through the land of MET on a quest seeking knowledge and understanding regarding educational technology. I gained so much more because the journey was the reward.  From the social connections, to the content, to the skills, to the confidence I gained during my travels, the rewards were bountiful and will continue beyond this degree.

In ETEC 590 ePortfolio, I looked back and reflected on the preparation, the journey, the wisdom and the reward with awe. It was here that I decided to continue my journey into the world of educational technology. I hope to find a new job in this exciting field, continue my blog and teach others what I have learned.

I chose my symbol of a quest because it represents my journey of discovery. As in many quests, often the true discovery is the one found in the heart of the traveller. Before this program, I was unsure of my path which I now see leading toward more education, perhaps a Phd.

As a writer, my metaphor represents a book without an ending in which many chapters have yet to be written. Also, like in a neverending e-story I will continually upgrade my skills, maintain my connections to the MET community and help build upon this ever growing collection of knowledge.

So it is with enlightenment and an ePortfolio full of knowledge that I stop awhile to prepare for the next leg of my journey. Thank you for taking the time from your journey to stop here along the way.

Michele Brannon-Hamilton