Thursday, July 30, 2015

Digital Storytelling Final Course Portfolio and Reflection

See Storify Link

How did you learn in this course? How do you understand your social learning practices given theory shared by L&K?

As a learner relatively new to online social learning, the practices of this course INTE 5340 Digital Storytelling, were at first, challenging to adopt. Prior to the start of the course, I set up a Twitter account and started participating in discussions like #edgamechat, and looking for people to follow in regards to education and personal interests. I set up a website called Designing To Learn to feature my professional and educational work that tied in with the blog I had already set up. I also read a majority of the course text New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning 3rd Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Nobel. However, I did not fully comprehend what I was reading or doing prior to the start of the course, things quickly started to make sense after the first week of engagement. By the practices as outlined in Ds106 how to write up assignments like a blogging champ” and the syllabus for the class, I was able to quickly participate in ‘new literacies’ as described by Lankshear and Knobel.

Social learning, as described by Lankshear and Knobel, simply put, is complex and self-reliant. Engagement involves aligning oneself with affinity groups and social media networks to participate in discussions and perform works that have meaning to the participators of these networks. Although in theory one can participate in these networks simply by being a passive read-only member, the requirements for this course meant that students were read-write participators. This means production by making blog posts, carefully crafting critiques of media, producing original Tweets, and a host of many other creative things as outlined in the ds106 assignment bank, the storytelling affinity group which this course was aligned. The choices and works produced in the course were decided upon through self-interest and focus on a particular theme of scholarship, essentially creating a sense of self reliance and autonomy in one’s own learning. Success and failure may depend on one’s ability to participate in online social learning and deep thinking through synthesis of multiple resources and networks. Ultimately, successful online social learning creates a sense of identity and ‘learning to be’ that sends learners on trajectories to become masters in their own crafts and domains.

How might your experiences in this course inform how you learn in the future, whether in formal (graduate) coursework or when pursuing your own interests? In what ways do you understand yourself a connected learner, someone networked into other communities (like DS106) and also linked with other people?

Through the connections made in this course, some weak and some strong, I can potentially engage with people on future projects or collaborations by continued membership and appreciation of the affinity groups which I belong to. Or refer others to their works for guidance. This sense of being a member to a community of practice transcends the course and formal education. I may interact with others through the connections made next year or ten years from now through twitter, blogs, ds106, or other means of communication. I may listen to Mariana Funes podcasts and continue to correspond with her on Twitter. I may enjoy tweets from Dr Garcia as she practices drawing exercises and offer advice and encouragement through tweets and retweets. Who knows if this will happen? The important thing to note is that it can happen because of the connections made and shared interested in being a digital storyteller. In essence, the affinity groups, connections, and affordances by web 2.0 have provided the means to be a life-long learner.

How was this course different from prior (graduate) courses?

I can imagine the design of this course was very different from many other available graduate courses in the ILT program, or in any other program at any other school for that matter. This is because what Remi has put together is ‘new’ and relevant to the technologies and pedagogies of today (refer to Remi’s Ecological Pedagogy). There are similarities to what was outlined in the Lankshear and Knobel text in the last chapter, however we utilized several divergent platforms that were not mentioned in the text. Namely, the use of Twitter and course alignment with ds106. This is in stark contrast to courses held in the confines of a LMS with a small number of students. Our interactions in this course overlapped many networks and engaged professionals and students alike. The result of this ‘externalization’ of course discussion and products, in my opinion, yields more professional and fruitful results. As stated in my response to chapter eight in the Lankshear and Knobel text, there’s no ‘secret’ LMS hiding intellectual gems from the world. This motivates participators to succeed because anyone, co-workers, colleagues, classmates, future employers, and the like, may have the ability to witness the products of the course, and perhaps it will mean something to someone else. In final reflection of this, I prefer to engage with ‘the rest of the world,’ instead of limiting Discourse and discourse to the secret minds and murmurings of the few who would choose to take a digital storytelling course that only uses a LMS.

How did you contribute to the development of this course and our learning community?

The initial two weeks of this course were rough. Most students shared that they are new to social learning practices and leery about exploring topics outside of the LMS. Additionally, the syllabus and pace of the course left little room for fault. As directed by Remi, students were to attempt to answer each other’s questions in the LMS within the first two weeks. Many issues came up about using Twitter, or making ones avatar show up, or how to best implement a feature on a blog, or clarity in assignments, etc. Through the online practices in the courses I currently teach, I felt desire and ease to help students with many of these logistical questions at the beginning of the course. As the course developed, I shared my expertise in drawing, design, and illustration and I believe I contributed to the development of techniques and ‘know how’ in regards to some of the daily creates and visual-design assignments as represented in tips and tutorial links in my blog and tweets.

In what ways were you responsible for directing both your own learning and also the shared experiences of peers/others?

Whenever I had a questions or concern I also shared this on Twitter #cudenver15 to notify other students. My two biggest concerns this semester that were ‘open air’ questions and answers on Twitter were in response to copyright concerns and morality / ethics. Mariana Funes was very helpful in suggesting readings and guidance as well as Lisa Dise in regards to copyright. Mitchell Woll offered some inciteful tidbits about morality issues in light of the Charleston shootings by reminding us about artifacts like manifestos created and shared by affinity groups as I was seeking answers to chapter three responses and trying to cope with news about senseless killings at the same time. Asking the tough questions and sharing the explorations of these inquiries very publicly helped direct my learning and contribute to others in and outside of the course simultaneously.

How would you have designed this course differently?

First and foremost, many of the practices and social learning that was engaged in this course was appropriate, current, and enjoyable. The course was only eight weeks long, the learning and participatory practices were intense. Although it was mentioned that it may require a minimum of fifteen hours a week to properly complete course work and engage in social learning, I probably spent 25-30 hours a week devoted to this course. Part of this may be because of the choices in assignments or new technical learning in combination with divergent platforms. It’s easy to get distracted and follow learning down rabbit holes to other topics and musings. Knowing the high possibility for technical error and multiple paths and choices delivered through autonomous learning, I would choose to reduce the amount of assignments each week. I would suggest a week of production that looks more similar to this:

  1. A Daily Create
  2. An Assignment Bank project
  3. A response to L&K text synthesized with scholarship
  4. A critique of a digital story
  5. A response to another student’s reading response
  6. A response to another student’s critique
  7. A response to another student’s AB project
  8. A weekly reflection

The last requirement, “a response to another student’s AB project,” was not a required part of this course. I think this would be a welcomed addition to further learning, analysis, and critique, in place of one response to the Lankshear and Knobel text. This may reduce potential redundancies with multiple responses to other’s Lankshear and Knobel text each week. Also students would be well served to receive critical feedback on their work especially in an educational setting. Being able to carefully, and critically, craft responses to peers work is a highly valued skill in professional work as well as being able to accept criticism. As a professional design and an instructor of design I can attest to these skills, not just in my day to day practices, but also from community feedback at the college where I teach.

How do you understand Remi's course design and ongoing decision-making? As many of you are educators (whether in K-12, higher ed, or corporate settings), how did this course change your understanding of pedagogy?

From the beginning of the course when Remi discussed ‘ecological pedagogy’ and ‘open’ course design I was eager to experience the course practices and theory as a student. Similarly to Ken Robinson’s concepts of ‘organic systems’ in relationship to learning, Remi suggested pedagogy that creates the conditions to cultivate learning through a multiplicity of learning environments, platforms, and settings. In essence, this pedagogy allows learners to make their own learning choices by finding ways to flourish in the rich landscape of web 2.0 platforms. The particular way in which we ‘learned to be’ in this course can be represented as the ‘pull’ model rather than ‘push’ as defined in the Lankshear and Knobel text. There was some necessary ‘push’ in the form of the syllabus and requirements for the course, however individual choices ‘pulled’ individuals in directions that supported their own interests and learning goals. Pedagogy that can be classified as ‘pull’ is a departure from most courses I have taken or taught. The practices in this course has made me appreciate the autonomy and ability to choose ways in which I define to learn.

Has your understanding of "instructor" changed, and if so, how?

I have also come to appreciate collaboration with others in social learning networks as ‘instructors’ in their own right by demonstrated expertise and the sharing of knowledge in areas in interest. This in some way has changed my idea of instructor(s) and the roles they serve. In this course Remi was for the most part ‘hands off’ and allowed students to explore ideas and ‘teach’ each other. Remi offered advice and inspiration in the form of screen casts and tweets, but the day to day practices of the course were essentially, in the hands of the students. Although I would not suggest this approach for all classes and subjects, it was very appropriate for this course at this particular point in time at the graduate level.

What feedback would you like to share with Remi as he (or a colleague) will likely teach another version of this course in the future?

For the most part, this course was excellent. I thought engagement and social practices were evident for most students. It was very challenging and motivating and I would gladly do it all over again. If I had to make any suggestions, it would be to lighten the load in the first week and require students to create a screencast to introduce themselves and share their strengths. This may help students direct questions or promote an overall sense of comradery and personality from the get go. This perhaps will also allow students to deal with logistical questions and concerns with social learning and the requirements of the course. My second suggestion would be to change weekly production to what was shown previously in response to "How would you have designed this course differently?" Week one and week eight would be less typical production for introductions and conclusions to the course. Overall the course was solid and requires only minor tweaks if any. I can’t wait to apply what was learned to the courses I teach and develop new curriculum with these online social learning practices in mind.

New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning Third Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Nobel. McGraw-Hill Education 2011.

Robinson, K. (2006, Feb). How Schools kill creativity.