ED TECH 501: A Reflection

What challenges did you face in this course?

Everyone comes to a program with a unique past, skill set, and knowledge base. Online courses and graduate school are not new to me since I previously completed a M.S. this way, and neither is the world of educational technology since I worked in it for about 5 years, and only currently find myself outside of it. In many ways this course was not overly challenging to me, however, I need to highlight my past experience generally as the reason why. I remember when I first began taking courses online for a graduate program and there was definitely a learning and workflow curve, and that experience has prepared me well for another program.

What strategies or other creative resources did you use to address these challenges?

To share, however, some of the things I have learned to do to keep myself on track, I’ll post a few tips, tricks, and resources (although my resources are almost all Mac-centric). One thing that is imperative is setting up a course calendar in whatever calendar app you may use, I personally use Fantastical. Just marking off dates and always having a visual reminder is extremely helpful. And then all you have to do is subscribe to the calendar on all of your devices, platforms, etc., and an overview of what is going on is always available. A simple calendar is static, however, so something more dynamic in regards to tasks is helpful. For this, I use OmniFocus.

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Based off the GTD method from David Allen, you can organise your to-do’s in any number of ways and gets you focused on checking them off. It syncs across devices so whenever you accomplish something, your database of items gets updated, and you always have a record of them.

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While scholarly articles and research were introduced in this course, it becomes imperative to be able to manage thousands of pdf’s over time. For this, I use Papers app, and this was a resource I did not know about during my previous graduate program, and I was definitely keen to make use of it starting out in the M.E.T. and so far it has not disappointed.

Often I use the iPad app to make highlights with a stylus, and then via magic (okay, some pretty technical programming) it syncs these changes to the files on my Mac, and I am ready to write with my notes all there ( I typically do this to avoid having RSI flare ups). It can also scan the text for meta data to make citations, etc., and pdf’s can be organised in any number of collections for organisation, in addition to tags, author, journal, and more.

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When actually writing papers, however, I use an app called Ulysses. This app has changed my entire workflow for writing. It’s a markdown editor that works by having you store and organise all of your writing within the app. You can then tag certain “files”, but more importantly, you can search EVERYTHING you have ever written. This was a huge problem I had in my previous program when trying to find articles I had used, or certain citations since I would have to open every single file manually in Pages to scan it. Once written, you export it to whatever format or program you need it in- I use a basic APA template and then clean up some of the formatting in Word or Pages. You can also set word goals, write notes like an HTML comment, and even store notes in a sidebar. It’s truly great for writing.

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Which artefact do you feel was your best and why?

Generally speaking I feel all of my artefacts were great! But, I am most proud of the animation I made for the visualisation of the definition of educational technology. This required me to go back to a program, Hype, that I haven’t used in some time, that has had significant updates, and provided me with the challenge of creating something dynamic, aesthetic, and meaningful. It isn’t the first time I have had to make an animation, but, this was a far more developed and intricate animation that was produced with better quality than I have done before.

What is one thing you plan to do in your school or business as a result of this course?

This is a tough question as I am not working full time at the moment. The next time I teach Ed Tech courses for Language Educators will not be until March 2016 most likely, but, I do plan on adding some topics like the Digital Divide so that the grad students are always learner focused and don’t unintentionally create designs or plans that leave some students out of an activity or unable to participate due to a lack of resources. As for full time work, I really am not sure exactly where I will end up since I am keeping an open mind and looking beyond just education.

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