Learning in a Different Direction

We were talking about the learning we are doing in EC&I 831 during our most recent class. Thinking about it, this experience has been very different from my previous grad classes. That doesn’t sound too surprising considering that it is my first course in my MEd, a complete shift in direction. That makes sense, right?

The shift might not be totally expected though. I have always spent a lot of time learning content, new theories and concepts, researching and synthesizing and analyzing. This course, though, is often treading fairly familiar territory content-wise for me. I worked for a while as an e-Learning Coordinator, researching technologies, running workshops for people at the university about teaching and technologies, working with instructors to figure out what would work for them. Now I work as an assistant instructional designer so I spend a lot of time talking about how things work, providing instructions, troubleshooting, playing with technology, suggesting options. I can do some light coding and occasionally get called on for tech support (today I helped my supervisor get her work email and calendars set up on her phone and got a laptop showing on a screen).

Some days I feel a little like this (but I’m okay with that)
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jenn Vargas

I’m still learning very useful things this semester, though, even if some of the content and a lot of the technologies feel comfortable. My experiences in this class are a lot about different ways of approaching the same technology, ways to explain it or think about it or use it. I have been in higher education for a long time and am pretty familiar with teaching in that field thanks to some fabulous teachers I know. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly learned about some new sites and apps I didn’t know about and I’m stretching some of my skills, but that’s not the most valuable part to me. What I’ve been experiencing this semester is really the perfect example of why I chose EC&I (Educational Curriculum and Instruction) as my major: I’m seeing how those in K-12 systems are using technologies and how they are teaching today.

For me this is a big deal. While the stereotypical first year student is coming from high school, I haven’t spent a lot of time talking to teachers in primary or secondary schools to talk about how they are teaching and what these future students will expect, how they want to learn, how they are prepared, or not, for what university can hold. No wonder these students often find university to be a big shock!

So this semester I am building my network with people who teach younger students than I am used to teaching. I am learning what difficulties they encounter, what challenges they and their students face, but also what ideas and innovations they are trying. At the same time I am thinking about how I explain things, how I engage both with the instructors I work with and the students who are in the classes I work on. Admittedly I keep my engagement with the students fairly minimal for my own protection (I can be working with 20 courses a semester and I just can’t keep up with students AND instructors), so I suppose I should say I am thinking about how students engage with the material.

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