Puppies who grow into happy, healthy, easy to live with pets require a lot of time, care, socialization, and nurturing. Healthy food, fresh water, grooming, and lots of love are essential. A puppy who is well cared for will be more trainable and will be a much better companion. Puppies and dogs love to please the people who love and care for them. They love to play, learn, and snuggle with their owners.

As important as meeting your puppy’s physical and emotional needs are, meeting his/her social needs are just as crucial. Dogs are pack animals, and they thrive in relationships. In a single dog home, the family member(s) become the pack. As the leader of your pack, you teach your puppy how to interact in positive ways with all others (human and nonhuman). In order to do this, you  must socialize your puppy a lot. You must repeatedly expose him/her to new people, places, sounds, smells, and situations. You cannot underestimate the social needs of your puppy, and the role you play in setting him/her up for a lifetime of productive interactions.

As learners, we thrive on social collaborative knowledge building as well. Throughout MET students work together a lot. At times it was very challenging to coordinate group work when members were scattered across the globe, but through the use of various synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, together we created artifacts as evidence of learning that, alone, not one of us could have created.

An example of this occurred in my ETEC 512 (Applications of Theories to Instruction) course. My group task was to prepare a presentation on technology and learning. Six of us (Ben, Darren, Kimberlee, Lois, Joy, and I) used a wide variety of tools to communicate and collaborate and together we created a Weebly website. (Click here to view our site.) We all came to this group with unique skills and different ideas and approaches, and in the end it was our differences that made our learning richer.

Another meaningful collaborative venture for me was working with a partner to contribute to the ETEC 510 (Design of Technology Supported Learning Environments) design wiki. Jasmeet Virk and I looked at the cognitive origins and constructivist implications of using electronic graphic organizers. (Click here to view our page.) Not only did Jasmeet and I benefit from our collaborative interaction during this project, but we also were a part of a larger collaborative project which was constantly growing and evolving.

Constructivist learning acknowledges the importance of prior knowledge in determining how we learn. Just as a puppy builds on prior experiences when being socialized in new situations, my experiences in MET across courses created a scaffold to support and further my learning. In ETEC 512 (Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction) I was introduced to the term “constructivism”. Later, in ETEC 530 (Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning) I was immersed in the theory and had the opportunity to see how these principles were/were not being employed in a specific area of my teaching. What I learned was incredibly valuable, and was something I could immediatley apply to my teaching practice as I revised various elements within my education assistant students practicums.

But this building of constructivist knowledge did not end there. Later, in ETEC 532 (Technology in the Arts and Humanities Classroom) I was used the topic of digital storytelling (which I first encountered in ETEC 521 – Indigeneity, Technology, and Education) to create a unit on the use of digital story telling to increase Aboriginal literacy, which I am now using in my own course at College of the Rockies. Reflecting back, I see this interwoven trail of learning that challenged my thinking and learning, and helped me to grow professionally in ways I could not have previously even imagine.

In my digital storytelling unit, mentioned above, I was able to create a set of constructivist learning activities to enhance my students’ knowledge and understanding. Within the unit I ask my students to create a digital story of their own, and I prepared one to share as well.

Click on the Wordle image below to go and view my unit.  (Log in as a guest and use the enrolment key “MET532” to access.  Note:  Enrolment key is case sensitive.)

(Above image created by Heather Wik in ETEC 532 at

This assignment stretched me in immeasurable ways. I was going to take the “safe” route and write a paper for my final ETEC 532, but in the end I am so glad I ventured out of my safety zone, and developed a Moodle unit, which included my digital story.

The way this assignment allowed me to use and connect learning from so many other courses was highly meaningful. It brought my learning to a whole new level. I had all sorts of pieces, gleaned across half a dozen or more courses, and in this assignment they all came together to create a new level of product for me. It is not unlike the world of puppy training. If you provide a foundation of care, create the right learning environment, teach fundamental skills, and focus on socialization, then suddenly you’ll find that you are the owner of a puppy whose learning goes well beyond individual obedience commands. You will have a companion.