Friday, December 17, 2010

CEDO555 - Portfolio - Week Two

This past week has been an incredibly hard one for me involving a lot of soul-searching about my professional goals.  Our main assignments this past week have been to create Vision/Mission statements and come-up with ideas for a culminating experience project.  Looking back at my first blog post, my heart still tells me that I need to make a difference with my life and education.  The economic and digital divides have never been more apparent than today.  The enlightened goals of virtual charter schools to serve inner-city and rural youth are lofty but in practice they seem to just enhance those who are better off in our society.

My first vision and mission statements had a split focus between corporate learning and public education.  I spent 4 days crafting statements that would catch both worlds, yet, I felt empty.  What is in my heart?  What is my passion?  What is it that I really want to do?  I decided that I need to put forth effort and challenge myself to help improve the lot of others.

Vision - Equitable education for all students that fosters  21st century skills through authentic experiences utilizing eLearning and blended delivery formats.

Mission:  Overcome the educational and digital divides by using elearning and Internet technologies while employing teaching best practices to create equitable education for all students. 
  • Design courses which engage students to bring their unique life experiences to bear on authentic problems.
  • Create collaborative training solutions that are authentic and relevant to students.
  • Utilize online, face-to-face and blended course delivery formats to maximize and achieve the best possible learning outcomes.
  • Employ existing or emerging Internet technologies which promote learning outcomes  and deepen understanding for participants.
  • Incite students' love for lifelong learning by encouraging and rewarding divergent thinking. 

    The culminating experience project proposal that I put forth needs to be something that stretches and challenges me in new ways while utilizing new skills from the MEIT program.  Over the past year I have helped bring technology and digital resources to the UW Hoofer Sailing Club.  I piloted a wiki several courses ago and it helped prototype what an actual Club resource could look like.  Since then, the University of Wisconsin enabled wiki-like functionality but it has yet to be implemented.  Could be a good culminating project for Brian!  Then again, aren't I really just helping the economically-advantaged and privileged?  But what about helping those who really need a hand?

    I came across a non-profit organization called Operation Fresh Start which helps school drop-outs and early offenders get their GED while they build houses in the Madison area.  I contacted them and asked if they might like to discuss how to help their participants practice and acquire 21st century technology and Internet skills.  I offered my services and I hope that I can do something with this organization and help young people improve themselves while getting their diplomas.  My heart and head is excited at the prospect of doing some good and making a real difference.

      Friday, December 10, 2010

      CEDO 555 - Portfolio - Week One

      Well readers, hard to believe but Brian is now running downhill towards the finish of his Master's of Education in Instructional Technology at Cardinal Stritch University.  The time has come for me to put together a Digital Portfolio describing my courses, evidence of work and how it relates to teaching standards.  The last bit caused a lot of consternation on my part as I am not a public school teacher.  I thought about creating a Career Portfolio for potential employers and job reviews but I do want to document how my coursework and activities mesh with teaching standards.  At a later date I may want to pursue a teaching license and the MEIT Portfolio will help me prove that I have met some of the requirements.

      I took a look at over 15 portfolio sites this week including those suggested by my study team.  It was really hard to find one single portfolio that did it all for me.  Some were quite technical and hard to read while  others were cluttered with widgets and background templates that detracted from the author's message.  I think back to Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds and the ones that were most appealing had a simple yet clear design to them.  Solid backgrounds, easy navigation and a minimalist approach where less was more.

      There were 2 sites that really stood-out for me in my quest for the ideal.  Although both do not meet all of my requirements I feel that they have qualities worthy of emulation.  Bruce Richards is an Instructional Designer. Bruce’s site is free of clutter and when one selects a heading from the navigation pane it gently scrolls to the appropriate section. If you browse through Bruce Richards site one gets a sense of what he’s about, educational experience and approach to his work.  
      Dr. Roland Bolender's  site contains so much information but it is cleanly laid-out in a way that it is not overwhelming.  From the Mission Statement and Role as a Teacher one can easily navigate to the resume, awards, curriculum and other headers.  Dr. Bolender’s site contains a full list of curriculum, online classes taught and evaluations. Overall, I like the design and how Dr. Bolender substantiatesof his work with specific detail that demonstrate a prolific career as an educator.

      I have a better idea now of the design and layout I will use for my MEIT Portfolio.  The CEDO555 course requires us to use Google Sites from our student Wolfmail account.  I browsed various templates and selected a format.  Now, all I need to do is figure-out what my content will be and how to organize it using Google Sites.  Ah, yet another Web 2.0 application to master.  The MEIT program has had me use so many that it's a good thing I'll be listing them in a portfolio so I don't forget!. 

      Thursday, December 2, 2010

      CEDO 550 - Week 6

      The final week of comes to a close on CEDO 550 aka Online Facilitation: Taming the World of Online Learning.  The course has been challenging in so many ways but mainly that it has helped me wrap my head around specific strategies and best practices for online learning.  The course has provided insights into how Virtual Charter schools are changing the educational landscape in Wisconsin.  No longer the wave of the future, the online learning Tsunami has already washed over the state and all of the stakeholders in education have to adapt - sink or swim.

      Although my teaching up until this time has been mainly with adult learners, my trainees are gaining 21st century skills by utilizing the office automation and collaborative technologies  all around them.  My role as a company trainer shifts to being one of a learning facilitator.  I still create courses but my instructional design plans for employee-to-employee interaction.  Company wiki, discussion boards open to the client community and rapid prototyping of products and services using brain storming sessions.  The 21st century skills our schools foster in young students are just what the business world uses today.   Funny, but calling myself a 'Trainer' sounds so regimented.  I have become an eLearning and Collaborative Technology Professional.  

      I understand the Virtual Schools Legislation in Wisconsin and am concerned/excited about the impact it will have on local control of curriculum.  Virtual schools are licensing online curriculum from third parties.  Although textbooks have come to be dominated by other states, it is likely that as online learning matures that 1 or 2 big players will emerge dominating online curriculum. Economics dictate that as the industry matures, it will become less competitive and products will be less innovative and responsive to customer needs. 

      The Madison Metropolitan School District's  involvement in online learning includes the Madison Virtual Campus (MVC)  and participation in the Wisconsin eSchool Network.   MMSD offers  11 categories with 115 courses for students which can be found in the online MVC Student Online Course Listing.  Breaking it down further one can see the distribution of courses by category.

      I spoke with 2 Madison MSD teachers and they were amazed at the number of online offerings for students.  I looked at the MMSD Technology Plan and they intend to expand online learning opportunities for both students and teachers.

      During the module I was excited to learn about the current offerings of online learning in my school district.  The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) offers 3 different portals for special content in addition to participation in the Wisconsin e-School Network.   If you were to ask most parents with children or teachers in Madison about these offerings they would not have a clue.  That being said, my examination this week of the MMSD's current and future use of online learning has been most enlightening.  I have a better sense of what is happening in my own backyard and it will be fascinating to see how online learning progresses in the coming years.