Technology has never really been my thing and I can say without reservation, technology is a work in progress for me. I was fortunate to have taken a class from Alec last semester that enabled me to feel more comfortable in this semester’s session. Some of the tools were introduced to me last semester I continued to use this semester that aid in my learning are: my personal blog page, zoom, google plus and twitter. I have also been introduced to a variety of other tools through presentations of others that could be useful in my own teaching and learning.
I really enjoy the whole blogging experience. I think that in a blog I am able write about things without having the formalities attached to it. There are no worries about APA format; I can write at ease and can include a variety of media sources into my writing. I like the idea of the blog in the sense that once I have created it, I will always have it. I can use my blog for educational purposes (my own teaching and learning), personal reasons (family etc.), and as a means of communication to others that I don’t often see. There are many uses for a blog. Once it is has been created there are many ways it can be used. The blog hub that Alec has provided for us has been very helpful for me in connection to other people in the class. I can remain updated on their learning through the blogging process. This leaves us with opportunities to read one another’s work and to comment or have discussion about what we are learning. I am more confident with the blogging process and how to use a blog in general, however, I think if I was ever in a position to teach other’s how to use a blog I would be doing them an injustice. Alec and Katia did a wonderful overview last semester and broke down the blogging process step by step which was very helpful for me to understand blogs. There are always new things popping up as we learn and I think blogging is an example of this. If I taught an online class or distance education class, I think blogging would be a great way of keeping track of my students and their learning – my only concern is how I would evaluate? Assessment is a big component in education and I think blogs would be difficult and challenging to assess.
Twitter is another tool that many of my master’s classes have decided to use. I like the idea of twitter because I can connect with my classmates as well as others. Twitter enables me to read about a variety of things that pertain to my own teaching and learning. Twitter also allows me to collaborate ideas/resources etc, It gives me the opportunity to be engaged in a different way. I would love to incorporate twitter into my own teaching. I know many teachers that have used it in their classrooms and it has been very successful for them. My main concern with Twitter is the privacy issues and the formalities that go along with it. I attended a session during one of our professional development days that discussed the use of twitter in your classroom. I found the session very helpful and informative but would prefer to have someone walk me through the steps of setting up a twitter account for a classroom. It would also be beneficial to understand the pros and cons, and the responsibilities of both the teacher and learner when it comes to the account. If I was in a situation where I taught an online class or a distance learning class, I would incorporate Twitter into my teaching. Like blogging, with Twitter I struggle on how I would perform any kind of assessment.
Zoom is a tool that I have been fortunate enough to use these past two semesters. Like Alec discussed in our last class zoom is great in the sense that it is affordable and you can share it with several colleagues. As an educator I think having the funds to do things or use certain programs etc. definitely play a part in what we choose to use. I like Zoom because you can log on as a class, communicate with classmates, can speak or just listen (depending on your comfort level). The chat feature is a great option for those that aren’t comfortable verbalizing all the time and as an added bonus the features within the breakout room are great. If I was teaching an online class, I would use Zoom because it’s affordable and I am pretty comfortable using it. There are always new and updated features that can be learned, but those can be learned with trial and error as the program is being used.
Google + is another tool that has been used in my online classes. I like the idea of Google Plus, however, I am guilty of not using it as much as I could. Google + offers a great way to collaborate, share resources/ideas and ask questions etc. Overall I think Google + is a great idea! I just need to get in the habit of using it more often so I can become more comfortable with it and all the features it has. Having said this, I am going to leave this open-ended; I am not certain I like the idea of it but I haven’t used it enough to know whether or not I would incorporate into my own teaching.
Face-to-face interaction versus online interaction can impact learners in many different ways. I think it really comes down to the learner and their style – what is more comfortable for them, how as an educator can we meet the needs of these learners regardless if it is online or face-to-face. I think teaching an online class with the teacher present and visible is more beneficial than teaching an online class where there is no teacher present. Personally, having a teacher present keeps me accountable, on task and I have a heightened comfort level. I think that if there are ever situations where I have questions or concerns having a teacher present they are able to respond. It is also nice when you can put a face to the name and have interaction instead of just working on a course at my own pace without any guidance other than a syllabus. I think it depends on the individual, there are many people who would rather work on a class at their own pace and their own time rather than having to log on to Zoom at a scheduled time. However, based on my needs and my learning style I would run a class similar to how Alec is currently running his online classes.