[ETEC 527] Final Reflections

Wow, I really can’t believe I’m at the end of my first semester of grad school. Starting school again was actually pretty unexpected considering I made the decision in about 24 hours and rushed to apply immediately after I graduated. Now that I’m here I find myself extremely excited about the future and really tuned into learning all that I can about Educational Technology. These last few weeks have opened up a new world of learning and discovery for me with technology and in education that I already feel is making a difference in my personal and professional life.

In this course I learned quite a bit that I am using on a regular basis now. Social Bookmarking has become a go-to for me to stay organized and reference web pages, but Diigo has taken it to a new level with its groups, sticky notes, and website annotation features. YouTube is back on my radar for saving videos I like and also many that will help me learn and review EdTech lessons and practices throughout this program. Now that I have my account set up and have created playlists, I am able to work with it faster and I am considering even doing some instructional videos of my own since I’ve learned how to screen record using Camtasia.

Slack is a Web 2.0 tool that I will be integrating into my work to collaborate with my team and possibly other departments. Its workspaces give you the ability to organize communications by channels for group discussions and allow for private messages to share information, files, and more all in one place, which is perfect for all of us now that we are all working from home under quarantine.

My favorite new tool has been Adobe Spark. I am an Adobe Creative Cloud user personally and professionally, and even though I had heard about Spark, I didn’t know its capabilities or about its web platform until this course. Once I began playing with it, I fell in love. Initially it reminded me a lot of Canva, but it’s so much better to me with the ease of use and seamless collaborations between graphics, presentations, and video production. I already know I’ll be using this tool the most in the very near future.

Overall, the Web 2.0 tools I have learned about are all tools that I think will have a long productivity life. I try to avoid web tools that are limited and do not “play nice” or collaborate well with other tools and platforms. I do not like to be limited or have to use more than one or two tools at one time for the same project, so I look for a lot of features that can be upgraded, redesigned, and have multiple features in one place.

I used to be afraid of learning about too many things at once because I would become overwhelmed. While I still feel that way about some things, this semester made me realize how much I’d been missing out on. I’ll be taking what I’ve learned and carrying the mindset of not being afraid to look for new tools with me as I move forward.

[ETEC 527] Vanity Search 2

Since starting my Web 2.0 course I have learned a lot about creating a digital footprint and about so many web tools that I had no clue about. In doing an update vanity search for my name, I noticed just a few more entries in Google (my new twitter and posts), a few third party data driven search engines, and some background check site. I don’t feel any negative way about it though because I’ve come to understand that the more I create and use the web and its tools, the more my digital footprint will grow, and when it does, I want it to be in the right ways and the right places. I have a very unique spelling of my name, which includes an accent mark that I just recently began using full time. I also have started incorporating my middle initial in order to further solidify my identity online and in other ways. I look forwards to see how these slight changes will cultivate a better digital footprint as I continue in my career. The best thing I’ve learned about vanity searches are what’s important to focus on to stand out!

[ETEC 524] Tech Playtesting Assignment 1: Blogs

A blog (or otherwise known as a “weblog”) is an online journal where a writer or a group of writers can share their views, content, or ideas on various subjects and make available for virtual reading and sharing. Blogging connects you to a relevant audience and give a platform for thought and lists entries in reverse chronological order.

 I have blogged for many years personally to sort through ideas, experiences, feelings and emotions on things happening in my life, and more recently, I have dabbled in blogging professionally in the Educational field to keep students and their parents updated about college and career readiness, FAFSA, and events and information from our programs success with our cohorts. Additionally, we encourage blogging from our students to understand more of how they think and feel about the material and experiences presented to them. Blogs fit the purpose of opening communications for students to share their thoughts.

Most blogs focus on a specific topic, while some are more to link to other sites and services. Personal thoughts and journaling through blogging is important and can be used in the pedagogical stance to facilitate learning through reading, writing, reflecting, and sharing thoughts and ideas in a digital environment. Blogs can evaluate a student’s contributions through analyzing and evaluating what they think about what they learned or didn’t learn, as well as showcase their creativity in design through how they design and set up their blogs.

Some of the blogs I have play-tested and ultimately used have been WordPress (www.wordpress.org), Tumblr (www.tumblr.com), and Wix (www.wix.com) blogs.

Each of these blogs are open source software and fully multimedia functional and collaborative and so much fun to play around with and design. The real differences between these blog sites are their usability, pricing, and flexibility.

WordPress, my choice to blog on and also known as “the world’s most popular site builder”, powers more than 33% of all websites on the internet. It has its own hosting site (found at www.wordpress.com), and is a very powerful content management system which can build websites and blogs. WordPress supports blogs, business websites, online stores, online courses, membership sites, and even online marketplaces. I was able to create a new blog site in under 10 minutes that gave me the capability to immediately create content, design, and incorporate add-ons out the gate. WordPress uses a simple WYSIWYG editor that comes in two different forms, one for plain text where you can add formatting though HTML coding, and one visual editor.

What I like about WordPress and pretty much any blog, is the managing design and appearances. WordPress uses “theme” templates that are premade and customizable for blogs and websites. Unlike Wix, WordPress does not have a drag and drop content editor that is customizable as you write it, but it does similarly have a drag and drop page builder capability if desired. Colors. Layout combinations, logos, portfolios, and social media synchronization are all capable. I feel like I am able to show my creativity, personality, and the purpose of my blog the more designing, content and availability to engage I’m able to give to it. The more I blog to support learning and provide information, I have incorporated more media content in my posts (music, pictures, video, memes, graphics, flyers, etc.) to help keep the reader’s attention and give them easier ways to link and share to social media sites, email, and other blogs.

Whether its using WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, or any other blogging site or capability, blogging can be not only engaging and educational, but also therapeutic. Blogging can teach students and has taught me how to communicate information more effectively to diverse audiences and develop better writing and presentation skills. However, like most outlets for creativity and free thinking, blogging can contribute to some potentially negative and abusive behavior such as trolling, the deliberate act of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments intended to instigate conflict, hostility, or arguments online. I believe that part of the pedagogical learning of blogging involves helping to developing students ability to handle negative interactions and unexpected interruptions and supporting them through their words and thoughts.

Even with these potential issues, blogging is beneficial in that it increasingly promotes participation and the collaboration of knowledge and thought. Blogs create a space for interactive exchange and strategy. Blogs also greatly encourage reading and writing and responding around focuses and reflections. The more we encourage blogging and the use of blogs, we contribute to the growth of creators, writers, and challenging thinking.