So what are the first things to teach your puppy? The basics. Sit, stay, come, no (as in “stop now”) heel, down (as in “lie down on the ground”), and off (as in “keep your feet off me” and “get off the couch”).
Mastering these seven commands will turn your lovely lunatic puppy into an obedient and lifelong companion you will enjoy spending time with. They are foundational skills, and you can use these skills to later teach your dog greater awe-inspiring tricks. Teaching these things will help your puppy not only learn how to do specific tasks, but will teach him/her something about learning itself.
In MET, several specific articles and one particular course were foundational in my learning.
First, Chickering and Ehrmann (1996) took Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education and looked at ways technology can be used to advance those principles. Time and time again I came back to apply these ideals when reflecting on eLearning:
- Good practice encourages contact between students and faculty.
- Good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.
- Good practice uses active learning techniques.
- Good practice gives prompt feedback.
- Good practice emphasizes time on task.
- Good practice communicates high expectations.
- Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
While reading and rereading this article, I continually compared these principles to my practice. I was encouraged by the number of things that were evident in my teaching. One area I noted some improvement would be warranted was in developing greater reciprocity among students. Many of my online courses have a lot of discussion forums, but looking for ways to increase collaboration and focus on the social aspects of learning would improve my courses. I have already begun to make changes, and look forward to continually making my online teaching and courses better.
Second, the International Society for Technology in Education (2008) published the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS) which provided a list of competencies for 21st century teachers:
- Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.
- Design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments.
- Model digital-age work and learning.
- Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.
- Engage in professional growth and leadership.
These standards set the bar high for the courses I develop and teach. Inspiring student creativity really stood out as something I would like to focus on. Throughout MET I have explored many cloud based applications and by incorporating some of these applications as options for student to present their ideas and learning in my courses is one way to foster creativity. I recently had students create a social story for their use at their practicum sites using cloud based apps, and the results were amazing. The students loved creating them, sharing them, using them with real students in their practicums, and reflecting on the entire process afterwards. It was so exciting for me to pull my MET learning into my teaching practice in such a hands on way.
Third, Anderson’s (2008) Teaching in an Online Learning Context focused on creating an effective online eLearning community. Anderson states that such a community “involves three critical components: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence” (p.343). This article really helped me to reflect on my instructional presence in my online courses, and the need for more authentic and effective assessment practices. For example, in one course I teach, there are two long multiple choice open book quizzes. As I reflected on what makes online assessment authentic, I realized that these quizzes were doing little to enhance student learning. I have since replaced them with other more constructivist activities.
Although there are many other articles that were pivotal in my learning, these three articles are ones that really became launching pads for other learning. I returned to these articles repeatedly throughout my MET journey, and continue to do so as I restructure learning environments and activities for my online students.
Finally, ETEC 500 (Research Methodology in Education) was the course I was most dreading, and so I decided to take it first, just to get it over with. In the end, the skills I developed in critiquing literature were ones I relied on in every course thereafter. They became the basis through which I approached all future research. In this course I wrote my first literature review. Successfully completing this task gave me a sense of confidence in my ability to research and articulate my ideas, and in doing so, set me up for future learning endeavours.