Thursday, December 3, 2015

Schooooool's out for December!....

...Schoool's out...until January...

OK, OK,... maybe my take on Alice Cooper's "School's Out" isn't as catchy...but it is indicative of the situation right now :-)  EDDE 803 is over, and I am waiting for EDDE 804 to begin.  Well, technically the course is over tomorrow, however all assignments are done and submitted, and I am not in maintenance mode in the forums.

The final assignment was really a reflection on the internship, what I got out of it, what things that I learned in the course I applied, and what I foresee applying to my own professional practice.

As I wrote in my reflection, both for the course and for the internship, I wasn't really sure what I was going to get out of it that I didn't already (somewhat) know when I came into the course.  My background is in instrucitonal design, and I have been teaching for a few years.  It's not that I think I'm perfect and that I can't improve, but sometimes you don't know what you don't know.  So, what did I take away from EDDE 803?  I'll focus on three things, one element from the internship, one from the cohort, and one from me as a learner.

First, the internship.  As I've (probably) written before, my internship was with Athabasca University's "Greek Cohort", which is a partnership with the Eastern Macedonia & Thrace Institute of Technology (one of Greece's Universities). Everyone in the cohort, as far as I could tell, had Greek as their native language, althrough the langauge of the classroom was English.  This isn't that odd, many people come from overseas to study, or attend online programs where the language of instruction is English.  What I found particularly interersting was that everyone involved spoke Greek in this particular class.  From this cohort I got that most people (if not all) were K-12 educators, which is not a typical demographic at the UMass Boston Instructional Design (ID) program that I am affiliated with.  I think it was a breath of fresh air for me, because as much as I like both Higher Education and Corporate ID, I really want to expand my own perspectives on the application of ID to this field.  The students were energetic, and the forums in this course were truly alive.  I really enjoyed this internship experience.  Now if I could find a way to continue to be affiliated with this Greek cohort...

Second, I think that I will say something about the cohort.  Building cohorts I think is a bit like cooking and chemistry.  Too many of the same type of people and you have an echo chamber.  Have too many different types of people and you risk not having a cohort gel.  I think our ragtag crew is just right. OK Cohort 6 and Cohort 8, if you are reading this I don't know much about your cohorts, so I am biased, so let's just say that I like my cohort.  One of the areas I've grown to appreciate more through this cohort is behaviorism.  Behaviorism wasn't really part of my repertoire as an isntructional designer, or a language educator and linguist.  It's very constraining.  However, I've also learned that what you learn in school is also only part of the story (a part that ends in the 1940s).  People have worked on behaviorism since, and because one of the members of our cohort is an applied behaviorism professional, we got to learn more about both past and current thought and research on behaviorism.  Had we not had this person in our cohort I think I would have just kept on ignoring (shunning?) behaviorism.

Finally, a little bit about me.  Now, it's true that the textbooks for the course (while pretty cool), they didn't contain a lot of new knowledge for me personally due to my background.  I could have had a really easy semester - if I wanted to.  However, as a doctoral student I think it's important to challenge yourself.  For some classmates, where the information was new to them, or fairly new, that was challenging - and this is fine.  For people like me, where we did pick up some new info, but it wasn't all new, I think it's important to create our own challenges.  I ended up tackling the topic of gamification.  I had read a couple of Jim Gee's books on the topic so I could have written something just based on that.  However, I took the opportunity to read 4 additional books that have been on my bookshelf since last summer on the topic, and do some more research, in order to expand my own knowledge - not to just check off a box saying that the assignment was done.

I am not saying this to receive some sort of kudos or an "attaboy".  I am saying this to indicate to prospective doctoral students, those who are thinking about applying to programs, or who have just started, that they need to challenge themselves.  Sometimes if you are in a course where some material you already know, then you need to to find ways to extend and expand your knowledge.  It's not just up to the professor and the course to challenge you.  You have an environment, and a group of people with you, to help provide a space for opportunities. However you should not expect those people and environments to be the primary, or even end-all-be-all drill sargeant for all your learning.  You need to develop your own internal drill sargeant to get you going!

Alright.  That's all I have for now on the end of 803.  I think I have 3 collaborative papers to help get on the road, and MOOC related articles to read :-)

So, how did YOUR semester go?
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