EdX Course – Design and Development of Educational Technology

In my spare time… I said that without laughing or asking myself “What’s that?”…I’m taking a couple of EdX courses.

Like Coursera these are free online courses designed and delivered by universities around the world. Successful completion of courses results in awards and certificates and increasingly such courses are seen as being real examples of continuing personal and professional development for individuals to include on CV’s and online profiles.

I’ve taken many online courses in the past and most recently have been following a course on the situation in the Middle East. Students talk about these things and ask questions even if it isn’t within your role to teach them and I don’t know about anyone else but I like to be able to respond and know that my response is accurate or at least historically correct.

This week I also started a course which looks to be very interesting already, the clue is in the title of this post, it’s Design and Development of Educational Technology developed and delivered by the prestigious American university MIT.

It looks at educational theories, mainly constructivism and constructionism and links them to the development of technology for educational use.

If like me you are keen to develop yourself as a technologically savvy teacher or if you want to delve deeper into these learning theories as part of your PGCE this could be a good one for you. Also if you are studying a masters in education either as part of a real class or through distance learning there are ideas which may help you to develop your own academic thought and opportunities to discuss ideas and concepts with people involved and interested in education technology from around the world, at all levels of knowledge with wide and varied experience. It’s all good stuff and comes free.
Just follow THIS LINK TO EDX and see all of the courses on offer and also check out Coursera here too, they have lots of courses which run in the same way on their site.

Individual Learning Plan (ILP)

I guess I’m a nerd. I used to love filling in my PDP at work and hated when my PDA’s were cancelled and I couldn’t get some sign off on some of my targets or input on others or approval for others. I was strict about my own staff’s personal development plans, I was keen to know how they were getting on, what I could do to help, what they thought they needed rather than what I imagined they needed and I loved to see them develop and progress in their careers. I wanted them to grow, build a range of skills and move on to bigger and better things. I hated to cancel their appraisal meetings and updates, I would always prepare myself for them even if it meant working all weekend reading their submissions and adding my own thoughts to them ready for when we could sit and have a nice cuppa and chat about what was going on in their work lives.

I’m a firm believer in planning when it comes to career progression. We have to be aware of where we might want to go and what it might take to get there if we want to go anywhere. Some people are happy to arrive and stay but I’ve always been the sort who arrives knowing what I want next and so the minute I arrive my focus shifts to what I want next. (Digression here: This is sometimes to my detriment as I might not focus as much on something that feels like a means to an end as I should. That would be true of learning but not of work. I can skim through learning, I can achieve decent enough grades on my own using some common sense and lots of reading but I can’t short change anyone I’m working for. I have to give my all. I have to feel that I earn my pay. I have to go home every night satisfied that I did my best and deserve paying for it.)

But yeah, I like to plan. I also like to reflect. I’m naturally reflective and do it constantly in all things. I even have weekly motherhood appraisal from the kids and it works, they tell me what I do well and where I could improve and it’s all very open and honest. I know where I could improve I know how others perceive me. I’m highly intuitive and know that lots of peopleplanning find my methods strange and find my lack of social engagement odd. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with things or people that are transient in my life, there doesn’t seem any point. Crikey if I’d stayed in touch with every transient person in my life I’d have millions of people to think about and I can’t handle more than a couple.

So I’m under no illusion that a) I’m perfect or b) I’m liked by everyone. Those two certain truths help me to be more realistic about life. Firstly, I don’t have to be perfect and secondly I don’t like everyone either so that’s OK. This basis then means that when I identify areas for improvement or others point them out to me I can accept that critique, take it on one of my chins and see it as something of a challenge to turn around. I also see my own part to play in things that go wrong and so I can see what I have to do to make them right. I also realise that being professional means that you don’t have to like people or deal with them not liking you to work with them. If I’d liked everyone I’d ever worked with in my life I’d be a saint and yet I’ve managed to work professionally with everyone I’ve worked with… I think 😉 I can also see if something is a fair critique or not, if it comes from somewhere darker due to poor relationships and that helps set things into context further.

I don’t take critique personally (as in get upset by it) then. I embrace it and I turn it around into something positive and good. These two reasons are why I love having an ILP and why I don’t see it as a bind but as a valuable tool in becoming a better teacher. After all that’s what I want to be, the best teacher I possibly can be, I want to share my knowledge, I want to inspire and motivate, I want to create a comfortable learning environment, I want happy classes, I want confident students, I want to meet targets, I want to be a valuable member of a successful team, I want to contribute to changing and shaping lives. I’ve always wanted to do that, I’ve already done that and achieved that in so many instances private life and work and in the community but this is the time to find out how to do it properly, how to be a proper teacher in a proper environment and do it right. This is where I get to find out where years of trial and error, years of theorising and academic debate, decades of structuring and restructuring have brought us and what a modern teacher does, how it’s done and why. How am I going to embrace all of that and do what I need to do if I can’t understand where I am starting from?

My ILP gives me a snapshot of where I am and it shows what my next step is and what my ultimate goals are. It allows me to plan for the short term and long term and identify what I need to do along the way in short easy to accomplish steps, breaking down the long haul into short trips with regular stop offs to take a breather, look back and look forward, think, assess and adjust.

My ILP is flexible it’s not cast in stone I don’t have to meet all of my targets, some might be pipe dreams some might be unachievable in the whole scheme of things and some might become defunct as I move along the path no matter how relevant they seemed at the beginning. Some of course are must do’s and they stand out as the priorities. See it makes planning easier too, you can easily order your objectives into must do’s and might do’s and will do’s and maybes. Taking the stress off.

I also feel that once in work as a teacher the ILP will form the basis of CPD and feed into my future development, it will keep me grounded in where I came from and lead me into where I’m going next.

Some might see it as a worthless exercise, another piece of paper to write on but we are heading into a profession, one where personal development is of paramount importance to ensure that we remain on top of our game and keep our knowledge up to to date and never get to a point where we rest on our laurels and think we know it all and there’s nothing left for us to do. We will never be perfect teachers, we can only keep on trying to be the best we can be and this little document is integral to that whole process.

Achieving Your Goals

If you’re the sort of person who has difficulty focusing on identifiying, working towards or meeting goals then this blog is perhaps a good one for you to follow:  http://www.heidigranthalvorson.com/. It’s written by motivational expert Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson (HGH).

If you start by reading this HBR article entitled “The 9 things successful people do differently”  http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/02/nine-things-successful-people/ and then go to HGH’s blog and you’ll see across her pages at the top is one marked “9 Things Assessment”. This helps you to identify your own attitudes and where you might need some help to develop yourself towards better achieving your goals. Those goals can be related to your study, teaching, career progression or even things like stopping smoking. Each of the 9 areas has a tab on the left side of the page and then a short self-assessment questionnaire which grades you in terms of your ability in each area and gives you pointers to improve.

At the very least if you struggle to focus at times the HBR article is worth a read as it contains some great pointers which will help.

I also love HGH’s thoughts on ritualisation and how that can help us to focus and achieve,  this recent post “Rituals Make Us Value Things More” is really interesting and can be found here http://www.heidigranthalvorson.com/2013/12/new-research-rituals-make-us-value.html. Not only may this help with our own development but also may help us to understand how our learners learn and absorb information and how they may learn to value their learning through ritualisation.

Here’s another really good HBR blog with links to HGH’s posts and more http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/achieve-your-goals-in-2014-heres-research-that-can-help/

If you use WordPress and want to follow HGH’s blog you have to go a different way about it to usual as she uses Blogger so what you have to do is go to your blue home screen of wordpress, click on Reader at the top and then on the right panel select Blogs I Follow EDIT, after clicking on the Edit button you will open a menu and in the space at the top of the screen simply copy and paste the blog URL which for HGH’s blog is this: http://www.heidigranthalvorson.com/ Now you should find that posts appear in your reader as they do for other blogs which you follow.