Friday, August 15, 2008

Final Class Reflection

15 August

Tonight was our last class so this will be my last reflective blog as it relates to the class. It is one of my goals to maintain the blog, I'm not sure just yet what form it will take. I just know that will be ongoing and evolving and I'm wracking my brain for a really cool name.

I have not always been a life long learner by choice. I would keep up with current practices for my job but I couldn't say I sought out knowledge. I loved trivia games but looking back I think it was because I could "show off" how much I knew, not because I could learn more. Then one day, the nursing education department rolled out a new way for completing our annual nursing competencies. Instead of checking off successfully completed tasks on a list the nursing staff was being encouraged to come up with creative ways to validate our competencies. One suggestion was to create a game for others to use and since I was bored I decided to give it a try.

The results were twofold. 1) The creation of a board game and an interactive PowerPoint game (Before I knew such a thing as templates existed!) that I am proud to say are still being used in our competency program and 2) seeing firsthand the engagement in the eyes of my fellow nurses. They were learning and I had had something to do with it. I was hooked!

I got down to business, attained certification in my specialty of practice and trainer status for our professional organization's chemotherapy course (I was officially teaching). After a bit of investigation I discovered a graduate degree in instructional design & technology. Reading course descriptions after talking with a colleague who had just finished the masters program made me believe it was a perfect fit for me and so my quest began. It turns out I like to learn things.

I am not a digital native (The first time I saw a computer I was twenty years old) so when my professor offered an elective class on Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0 I knew I would learn something and I have not been disappointed. Our class motto has been "It will be what you make it", so, what have I made of this class, no, incredible learning experience?

First of all, I have become more comfortable navigating the Internet and I feel much more confident in playing with the Web 2.0 tools. There is a great deal to be said for immersing oneself in a culture, whether it be a foreign country or digital technology. I am happy to say I've collected some exciting technology to share with my colleagues.

Another take away for me is less tangible but very important to me. I have learned that it is okay to ask for help. I grew up in a time when education really focused on being right. Those who answered the questions correctly and behaved went to the head of the class. Competition was the name of the game. So I never asked for help. I studied on my own and worked best when projects were solitary events. Everyone functioned this way, you either got the concepts or you didn't. Asking for help was a no no, a sign of weakness and imperfection. I find this ironic because when I am working at the bedside, I am never alone, and my colleagues and I work together as a well oiled machine. Within the class we had an online group from all over the world and I was quite surprised to discover a community of educators who didn't judge my inadequacies but willingly, with no visible benefit to themselves, answer questions, provide insight and share examples of their work. Collaboration is good!

The concept of sharing is probably the most important idea that I will carry away with me. The educators working with Web 2.0 technology are all about sharing. The tech is free and phrases like "why reinvent the wheel" kept popping up as we talked with these folks who were generously sharing their time as well as their ideas. Kevin Honeycutt used the phrase "we're better together" and that has resonated with me. As I reflect on it I believe I naturally gravitated toward this position because I don't really think of what I do as teaching but as sharing what I know with the goal of making all of us better care givers.

I am also taking with me the idea that it is okay to initiate ideas and a better confidence to do just that. I plan to use what I have learned from my incredibly generous educational personal learning community and create a professional learning community among nurses who share my specialty. Before this class I would never have had the courage to do this as I am a behind the scenes kind of girl. Now I see it as more than feasible.

Finally, I want to involve myself in the future of teachers. My best friend and my college roommate are both educators (yes, they both have our class wiki URL to use as a resource) and I have always had a healthy respect for teachers and the work they do. However, in the last five weeks I have come to know, by virtue of their passion and generosity, just how incredible teachers are. Let's face it, I am passionate about what I do as a nurse, but I also like to get paid. I am fortunate because the hospital I work for has remarkable resources and my director pays me for my extra time. I don't believe that is the case for teachers and that is a shame. Adequate compensation is the very least we as a society should be providing these innovative, passionate people charged with the future of our children.

So, I got some good hands on practice, made a few new, truly remarkable, friends who inspired and motivated me and I finally became a believer in the idea that failing is one of the best ways to learn and that learning should be collaborative, messy fun. Not bad for five weeks and degree credit. Thank you Dr. M, this class rocked. See you all on the net!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


14 August 2008

I cannot believe it has been almost a week since I spent time writing in the blogosphere. I just reread my last post and noticed that I actually referred to myself as an educator. As most who read this know, I am not a teacher by profession. I am a registered nurse who works at the bedside giving hands on care and I love what I do.

I developed an interest in staff development about three years ago and started looking for a graduate degree that would complement this interest. I discovered (or was led to, you pick) Instructional Design & Technology. So I dove into the program here at the U of M and while I love it, have been challenged by it and learned volumes I have always felt a bit of an outsider, until today. I am an educator.

I have not blogged this week as I have been ruminating about our homework and class meetings and how I can apply what we have learned to my professional development and the professional development of my colleagues. I've also been working on the layout of the table of contents for the modules on the class wiki so I have been reviewing all of the remarkable material.

My take away from all of this reflecting? First, there is life after PowerPoint and I intend to live it. I have always had a love affair with the written word. As a result I tend to teach with text (and the chemo course I teach requires the use of their slides, shudder). I have seen others use video and audio but never really felt comfortable with it myself or, if I am being honest, really believed it was productive. But as I have read, and listened to and watched the material in my classmates modules I realize I am learning, and if someone so resistant can learn then how much would someone who isn't resistant, or doesn't learn by reading benefit? So I am thrilled to have tools, tutorials and examples of slide shows and presentations that are vibrant and thought provoking.

My second take away has to do with passion. One of our video references commented that learning should be joyous. The fact that the speaker said it with passion made me a believer. In fact, the passion of so many of our speakers in their belief that education is about more than bullet points, lectures and tests has encouraged me to catapult myself into practices (this blog, for instance) that I would never have attempted on my own. So, educators passionate and persistent about technology can, and will, transform the educational landscape from passive reception and regurgitation to active participation and creation. If we, as educators, are passionate about guiding learners not only will the learners be engaged, they will in turn be passionate about their learning. Passion is contagious!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Reflections on Teaching and Learning and Technology

8/8/08- I just love typing this date out!

I knew at the beginning of the summer that I would be taking this class so I started joining and signing up for a few of the technologies I knew we would be talking about, beginning to immerse myself. My learning curve is a bit steep so I believed this would help me keep up in class. Then class started and while I did see a benefit (at least I was familiar with some of the terminology and how to move around in some of the environments) instead of immersing myself it was more like I had dipped my toe in very slowly. In the last three days I have read five of the modules created for our wiki as part of the homework. What an amazing, overwhelming compilation of work! I have clicked on every link and signed up for some of the technologies available that I think will benefit me and my personal and professional learning networks.

Now that I have slept and had a chance to reflect on the reading, my personal take away is what has been the primary thread of thought throughout this exploration of web 2.0 technologies - communication, collaboration and sharing in multiple media formats allows the student to be an active participant in his or her learning. The challenge for me will be to get adult learners to buy into the benefits of the technology. Currently, where I work, we are being inundated with changes in practice and technology. Many are crying enough is enough.

Nurses are traditionally hands on caregivers who eschew technology unless it benefits the patient. Additionally, often, they feel their voices are not heard by the powers that be. My hope is that by creating a collaborative workspace (read wiki) in our specialty those who provide hands on care will begin to feel valued and realize the importance of what they have to offer the profession. Little by little, we educators can add to the technologies used until they become integrated into the practice of direct patient care benefiting patients and caregivers alike. What an amazing beginning that would be!

Reflections on Teaching and Learning and Technology

7 August 2008

Oops, forgot to post this!

Our last class speaker, Tom Barrett, was a primary school teacher in England who was sharing with us his work with students using VoiceThread and Google Docs. As a nurse I wasn't sure how much I would have to contribute but I have gotten something out of every speaker we have had so far and looked forward to the class. The upshot for me was that in addition to engaging the students and encouraging collaboration, students should be given the choice of using technology. I know as a student I would not necessarily pick a technology to do something when pen and paper would work just as well. Surely there are others like me out there (this is a bit rhetorical as I work with many who would never choose a Web 2.0 technology). In my experience to date, giving the adult learner a choice often leads to his or her interest in learning how to use the newer technologies.

What really struck home with me throughout this interchange is the enthusiasm he and the other teachers participating have for teaching and learning. For them teaching is not just students learning facts and figures to regurgitate successfully for a test. By facilitating experiences with technology for the children these kids are developing ideas, expressing them and learning how to work with each other constructively. The idea that learning is messy and failure okay resonates with them. And after all, isn't that a better preparation for life in the real world?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reflections on Teaching and Learning and Technology

6 August

I mentioned earlier that I want to do the Learning 2.0 23 things list. They linked to it in one of the modules and I am in the process of completing it. I also wanted to link it here for those who come across this and are wondering how to go about diving into Web 2.0. Please be sure and note (and honor) the creative commons license at the bottom.I have started a blog (#3) and posted to it, worked in a wiki, set up a wiki of my own (very sketchy yet). I also learned about RSS feeds and signed up for Google reader as well (#8 & #9). I presented Googlereader in class last night but was so beat up I feel like I could have done it better.I have also looked at Googledocs and Zoho (#18) and their online productivity tools. Recommended them to a fellow nurse who is in school and has several collaborative projects. She was very impressed with the technology as her personal computer was down at the time. So I am moving slowly but surely and it continues to be all about the teaching and learning. Planning to forge ahead. Have some more reading to do before I can call it a night. Later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reflections on Teaching and Learning and Technology

July 18, 2008

Got the ONS newsletter today and it had an article concerning the importance of professional learning networks and that oncology nurses need to be involved in them and our professional organizations need to facilitate that participation. Interesting, am I seeing these things because we are studying them in class or is nursing starting to keep up with educational methods? Will try to find the author while in Pittsburgh next week and see how I can participate.

July 19, 2008

Home sick with a sinus infection, trying to prevent pneumonia. While I sit I am reading and reading and reading as much as I can about copyright, digital storytelling and virtual worlds. These are the topics for the modules I am supposed to start building. There is sooo much out there and my natural bend toward cognitive flexibility has me going off on tangents, maybe that’s just my inability to focus but I prefer to think of it as my natural curiosity to learn. I’ve been lurking on Twitter. Still not sure how it will benefit my personal learning.

July 20, 2008

Tried to go to work but still feeling wretched, this stuff just saps my strength. More reading as my constant headache will allow. Got signed up for Skype- think I will enjoy this tech feature. Also signed up for Google rss feed, now there’s even more to read!! Dr Mims just came through on Skype chat. I think he was tickled that the material I am reading has engaged me as much as it has.

July 21, 2008

Up early to get flight to Pittsburgh for CPON Role Delineation study group meeting. The up and down in the airplanes has not helped my head at all. Concerned about my hearing as it has not returned in full just yet. Got a look at the copyright module and saw Dr Mims had added a lot of material. I am struggling with my comfort level in making changes regarding anyone else’s contributions.

Have been looking at stats all day. Did get a couple of my colleagues interested in looking further at Web 2.0 stuff. One even signed up for Twitter, but wouldn’t you know the site was acting up at the time! Talked with the whole group about wikis and collaboration. If a room full of certified pediatric oncology nurses in diverse practices from around the country isn’t perfect for my personal learning community I don’t know what is.

Class tonight was a little patchy. Had tech difficulties galore but I did get some clarification on copyright. The whole idea of transformative value was just words on a page until Kristen started talking about it and giving us her class’s video on Darfur as an example. I haven’t put a lot of thought into copyright before except to know what’s mine is mine and don’t steal from others. I appreciated her presenting it from the point of view of sharing our work with each other. I especially like the Creative Commons licensing site which has been part of my reading in prepping for the module. The idea of collaboration and how one is willing to share his work is, overall, a more positive approach to the topic and I think if we start teaching our children the positive approach of seeing their work as valuable and really considering how they would share the work they in turn will respect the ideas and creations of others when using them.

Turns out Dr Mims didn’t make the changes on the module, Kristen and somebody named skippytpe. Feel even more intimidated about any contributions I might add.

July 23, 2008

Finally home. Winding down and talking with my mother who is telling me about a news program she watched that morning that was talking about Web 2.0 tools. Apparently there was a woman whose cable went out and she was told it would be the middle of the next week before anyone could get to her. She sent a tweet out talking about her frustration with cable and they had someone there the next day to fix the problem! I wonder who tweets at the cable company.

July 27, 2008

Modules finished, for better or worse. Have worked nonstop between coughing and fever and bed. Still sick, back to Dr. tomorrow for some steroid. Nothing else is working and I can’t keep missing work.

July 28, 2008

Noted on the news tonight that in the month of May Americans spent 7 billion dollars less than previously (a record, I believe) and the pundits believe it is a trend that will continue, not only because of the ridiculous price of gas but because people can get what they need in the way of socialization from social networking sites (as well as being able to shop online, bank online etc…).

July 29, 2008

Seems everyone in class is in agreement. Technology should not just be taught because it is technology but it should be integrated into the overall lesson plan. Though I think for older adults some baseline work should be done initially. Just like working in higher math, you still need to know how to multiply, divide, add and subtract before you can proceed. Keyboarding basics, how to open programs, definitions of terms will all help to prepare those of us who don’t speak the digital language natively to develop a comfort zone (or a scaffold from which to perch and climb or fly, for you educators).

July 30, 2008

Loved the TPACK video. Watched every second, they were very entertaining but it also brought to the fore for me the challenges I face as I am immigrating to the digital world. It is very cool that we are able to talk to and see people from all over the world but I find that it is difficult for me to read the written chat (in 2 places, sometimes 3) and listen to the speaker and classmate comments and formulate intelligent opinions and questions all at the same time. And I want to learn the tech. I can’t imagine how hard this would be for someone who is being forced to learn in this environment.

Relevance to the learner will always be key for me. The digital natives of today seem to think the tech in and of itself is relevant because they use it every day, it is a part of their everyday lives. Buying consumer goods online, or keeping track of money online or texting are as routine as breathing for them. For the immigrants (including myself but older adults in particular as well) it isn’t natural, yet. We have to incorporate it into a routine that already exists and the technology must make sense in the context of that routine or it is not perceived as being helpful.

A friend of mine who would never claim to be tech savvy bought a laptop computer and until recently had used it to surf the web shopping, play a couple of games and to type up her self evaluations. Then a close friend of her mother died up in Seattle (they are in Mississippi). There was no way that her mom was going to be able to fly on such short notice (outrageous prices) and so had resigned herself to not being able to say goodbye. A young family member in Seattle heard about this and set up a video stream of the funeral that my friend’s mother was able to view. Though unobtrusive, the family knew the camera was there and later reported the comfort they felt as she was able to share in their grief and mourning from such a distance. She, in turn also felt herself to be very much a part of the group. For my friend it made the money she spent on the computer worth every penny and she continues to show interest in the Web 2.0 tools we have been talking about in class. For older generations I believe this is an example of the best way to integrate technology into our lifelong learning.

31 July 2008

Long class but lots of good information. I've decided to do the 23 things list as one of my goals for the next month. I am also going to set up a CPON wiki for current CPON's to collaborate and share their knowledge with those who are not CPON's. The certification exam will certainly be a focus but I want to encourage ped onc nurses from around the country to contribute. There is a lot of diversity in practice and I know I would benefit from learning how others do things.

We talked about security and balance tonight. I find myself at the reverse of most. I don't have enough time to spend working with these new tools. I suppose that's part of it, trying to develop new routines that integrate new learning as well as new ways of learning.

1 August 2008

I have finished proofing my sections. Have to work tomorrow so there will be no time and little Web 2.0 access. I loved the modules I read and am hoping this wiki will be around as a resource for a long time. Am going to spend a little time tonight on the Google reader as well. I am still using a word document for my journal (after hand writing it). Old habits are hard to break. Besides, I have always found comfort and creativity in putting a good pen to a fresh piece of white paper.

3 August 2008

Amazing!! I tried to access our clas wiki today from work as I had a message I needed to see and it was blocked by the IT department. However, now they have a blurb that says "If you think this is in error...let us know." So I did and guess what, on a Sunday no less, somebody from IT emailed me and after we chatted some more I can now access the link from work. WOOHOO! I fixed a broken link and was able to read through a few of the modules. Unfortunately, they won't unblock youtube or facebook but I could get the gist. I was also able to give a classmate my opinion about some work she was having to choose from to turn in for a class. Collaboration is pretty cool.

4 August 2008

I forgot I signed up for Google reader about a month ago and found over 1000 feeds to review. Skimming through them helped me to decide which feeds I really want and need. Was able to weed out a great many and add a few blogs of some of the educators we have referenced in class. I love that you can get multiple sources of information, right at your fingertips, without wasting time going out and finding them. I spent some time going through the functions of Google Reader but noted files and tags are down from the main menu. I will double check that tomorrow before class. I did put my reader url on the RSS page of the wiki so we can look at on the big screen. This was big for me to think of, probably not such a big deal for others in the class who are more technically savvy but I am proud I am learning and applying the learning.

5 August

Worked in Google Reader today. Shared a few things, starred a few things. Tags and folders are still broken. Will show how to add a subscription. Added my reader to the directory and will add my new blog after I finish this post. Yes, I finally got to it and have copied and pasted everything through today. I didn't even write this post out first! I can see readers being used in T & L to teach current events, reading, create interest in science and math and teaching organizational skills just to name a few. Though after doing the reading for class I think there may be other readers that have more flexible functions. We'll see. I would love to see a way to subscribe to Twitter as twitbin is not the most efficient. Going to have to check into that.