What did I learn this semester? I learned that I can always improve in what I am doing and that I should never settle for mediocre. Things can always be better! I have learned to keep a critical eye on my work as an educator and have learned that the tools available for learning are coming out faster than we can learn them and that keeping up with technology is a challenge in itself. I have also learned that if you can’t explain why you do what you do, then you need to sit down and really consider the reasons you do why you do them. For example, if you ask students to do warm-ups before singing, the purpose is to prepare the voice for singning! If you ask students to reflect on their learning, there should be an underlying purpose, perhaps pushing students to dig deeper into their understanding of material, and learn how to articulate what they have learned clearly.
I know that I have learned these things because I think about them a lot. Now that I know a little bit more about how people learn and how to sequence learning activities in a way that will maximize learning, I think about what I am doing in my classroom each day and try to look for ways to improve and enhance learning in my classroom.
One example of what I really learned is that it IS possible to combine F2F environments and online environments to create a very personalized and motivating learning environment. The online environment provides learning in more than one learning style and appeals to so many types of learners. The F2F environment allows students in a music class to have authentic performing experiences and a place to get to know one another. Having more than one area dedicated to learning can only enhance the student’s overall learning experience.
A second example of what I really learned is that it takes students and teachers to create teaching presence in a course. It is up to the teacher to set the students up for having interactions that really promote learning and teaching. Learning isn’t directional, in that it doesn’t come from a book and go straight into your brain, and voila! you have learned it. It takes interactions, discussions and feedback to make meaningful and deep learning experiences.
What helped my learning in this course was having such great discussions with my classmates and fantastic guiding questions from Alex. She really pushed us to perform at a high level. This was the most challenging course in my Master Degree career at UAlbany. I loved every minute of it. I think that pushing students to perform at higher levels helps them to break the plateu of what they think they are capable of. Usually they are capable of more than you think. It also helped my learning to use diigo and rate my posts. At first I thought it was painstaking and hard, especially when I spent an hour on constructing a post only to recieve a 2, but as I learned that it was more about teaching others, I began to perform better and was more motivated to teach something new and provide a cool resouce in diigo.
I don’t think there was anything that hindered my learning. Learning is what you make it. It is up to you to view challenging things as challenges rather than obstacles. It’s all in how you look at it. I felt that my learning accellerated during the course of this semester and I am happy that I am finishing my masters degree with a feeling of accomplishment.
My feelings about this course are great! I would recommend anyone interested in online course development to take the course with Alex. She makes everyone in the course feel welcome and comfortable, which is the key to being successful and having students who are motivated to working with her. I have learned that I could stand to be a little more personable with my students and our relationship outside of class will grow and this will make the learning that happens in class so much stronger. Relationships and feelings are one of the underlying keys to success in a course. If you have a teacher you like, don’t you want to work harder to please them? I know I do…and I know that I don’t really feel like working for someone who berates my feelings and is insensitive.
Thanks to Alex for a wonderful semester! The learning journey this semester has been quite challenging, but worth every second! I wouldn’t change a thing!