Setting Up for Success

Before beginning any training of a new puppy it is important to prepare and establish the proper learning environment. For an eight week old puppy, that means gathering tools (food, a good supply of chew toys, a crate, towels, nail clippers, and carpet cleaner for a start) and creating a safe environment (using baby gates to restrict access to parts of the house and providing a fenced outdoor exercise area). Creating a safe and inviting environment and having all the right tools goes a long way in preparing for positive puppy growing!

In several of my MET courses I really started looking at the learning environments I establish for my students, particularly for the online courses I teach. I reflected on my teaching practice in ways I had not done since my early years of teaching, almost 20 years ago. What an enlightening experience!

In ETEC 510 (Design of Technology Supported Learning Environments), Jonassen (1999) introduced me to the term “constructivism”. While I was glad to realize that I had been utilizing many constructivist tools and activities in my teaching, I was embarrased that I had not previously known what this learning theory was. I reflected a great deal on Jonassen’s statement:

Constructivist concepts of learning….assume that knowledge is individually constructed and socially constructed by the learners based on their interpretations of experiences in the world.  Since knowledge cannot be transmitted, instruction should consist of experiences that facilitate knowledge construction.  (p. 217)

That same semester, I took ETEC 565 (Learning Technologies: Selection, Design and Application). This was one of the most memorable and meaningful courses for me. In some ways, I wish I had taken it later in the program, rather than during my second semester, so that I could draw on learning from more courses as I completed the requirements for it. In this course I was faced with the daunting task of learning a vast number of tools (yes, there were tears shed during some trying moments). The “Tool Box” within the course was so extensive, and the time demands required to complete all the activities was overwhelming. But gaining insight into this vast array of technology options was of immeasurable value.

Alexander’s (2006) article, Web 2.0 A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning and chapters from Anderson’s book, Theory and Practice of Online Learning were instrumental in my process of rethinking online learning. Providing a more constructivist and social learning environment using a variety of tools would greatly benefit my students.

In ETEC 565 I was able to put some of this newly acquired knowledge into practice. During that course I set up a blog (Spring 2011) which showcased my learning plan and design activities.

Click on the above image to go and visit my blog.

One of the highlights of the course was creating an online course in Moodle that I would soon use for teaching my students at College of the Rockies. What an extraordinary learning opportunity. Unfortunately, guest access is not available on MET Moodle to view the course I designed, but here is a quick clip to show you some of the highlights.

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On my blog I reflect on this activity:

While creating “Modifying and Adapting Instruction – An Introduction for Education Assistants”, I utilized my newfound knowledge to:

      • Create and incorporate multi-media presentations and images in my web pages
      • Provide meaningful automated feedback on quizzes
      • Incorporate asynchronous communication tools
      • Create a glossary (which students will add to)
      • Create a wiki activity
      • Use a built in survey tool
      • Create tables
      • Link webpages (to text and images)
      • Show/hide various content activities and modules

The knowledge I built during this activity helped me reconstruct the learning environment for a course I teach, and provided me with the tools necessary to continue in the process of updating and revising my other courses. Providing the right environment for learning is critical, for me, for my online students, and yes, even for puppies.

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