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The first online meeting for EC&I 831 was the perfect start to my new graduate degree, I have to say. I was feeling a little bit nervous about venturing back to grad school. A bit of backstory, I had originally thought I wanted to be a tenure-track professor in Religious Studies. I got my masters and started a PhD. Eventually, I withdrew after realizing that being a professor of religious studies was not my burning passion, certainly not enough to put the time, effort and money into finishing my PhD. My real passions were really teaching and technology but nobody had ever told me that there were careers for that. I lucked out and landed a job as an e-learning Coordinator at the University of Regina. The job didn’t last, being term during a time of budget cuts, but I had my passion awakened. Other people wanted to talk about technology and teaching! Universities needed people to talk about technology and teaching!
It took me a bit to get back a job that matched up with my rediscovered interest, but I did. In doing so, being a previously professional grad student, I decided I should look at getting another degree. I wanted to spend more time talking to other people about teaching and technology, learn the language other people used. So here I am in EC&I 831.
The first class confirmed that I am doing the right thing. It is so different than traditional courses and I think I need that transition to help me explore who I am now as a learner. I find blogging easier these days than writing formal papers, as much as a part of me was sad that there are no papers for this class (am I the only one who actually kinda likes writing papers?).
Social media feels like familiar territory to me, to some extent. The social medias I know, I know well. I’ve researched their use in teaching, may have given workshops or blogged about how to use them. Others, though, I tend to be hesitant to try because I find I have a threshold for how many things I can manage to keep up. It does, however, fit with my approach to fitting technology into teaching. I find tools that work for me and fit what I actually need and how I work. I’ve embraced Pinterest wholeheartedly because I love the visual reference of it. Instagram, on the other hand, I just can’t get excited about personally. I have also mostly been avoiding Google+ since I saw no personal need for it until now when I it is a core part of my class.
I am hoping to use this semester to explore and try new things. I am going to try to let myself be uncomfortable sometimes. It helps that I know there will be a whole class of other people in a similar situation, and others coming to join in the fun and engage with our journey. I was an etmooc dropout because I found the sheer size overwhelming. ECI831 will be a bit more manageable for me, which I appreciate.
I have a confession to make. The one time I taught RLST 100, I used a sum total of PowerPoint (and Google Docs for my own notes). I still think back and cringe a bit. I didn’t ban devices, I just asked that sounds be off. But I should have done better. I have spent a lot of time since then thinking about how I personally would use technology differently, how I would make more space for it, change my teaching. I’m looking forward to getting ideas this semester, seeing how others use technology and how I could do better. I think there is a lot of room for engaging students in ways that are meaningful and preparing them for other forms of literacy, knowledge sharing, research, etc. The world has changed and that means our ways of teaching also need to change.
This will also translate into ideas for the instructors I work with who are teaching online courses. What tools might work for them? What creative ways might they use their abilities with technology to engage their students? What would be functional for them and what wouldn’t? I think a huge element is fitting the social media to the instructor, not just sharing our favourites, so I am hoping to spend time critically thinking about different types of social media and how they connect to teaching and learning, what issues they might solve.
So here we go!