My first quarter in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is coming to a close and I am left with some reflections on my experiences. I appreciate that the program is designed to use projects and assignments to build a comprehensive graduate portfolio, while simultaneously pushing me to both become more involved in school initiatives and build a professional online identity. Additionally, the readings have been approachable and relevant to both the classroom and the real world. The skills and knowledge that I believe to be most important to successful participation in the program are as follows.
Comfort with Technology
The first thing that comes to mind is a general comfort with technology. There appears to be a place for a range of comfort levels however. For example, a student who already has an established online presence and comfort with online tools will be successful. At the same time, a student that is less experienced will also have the time and support to expand in his or her knowledge. I have found myself to be somewhere north of the middle, and have surprised myself with my growth over these few months. This program would not suit someone seeking education on how to use technology tools from start to finish. Rather, coming prepared to dive in and problem solve is necessary. A self-driven pace of growth is supported, but the inspiring nature of my fellow students has pushed me to grow at a faster rate than I thought possible.
Classroom Experience or Accessibility
I find my role as a classroom teacher to be extremely well suited to the nature of this degree. I think someone who isn’t currently working in some type of educational environment would struggle with this program. My ability to see first-hand the challenges in the classroom is essential to the dialogue of the course. I can reflect on former practices and student performance, experiment with new tools providing feedback to my cohort, and have a student audience to survey.
Participation is a huge aspect of your success as well. Our discussions the first quarter utilized Google Hangouts, which proved to be a unique and successful tool for discussion and collaboration. Our success was accomplished due to the fearless participation of all involved.
Lastly, maintaining an open mind is important. While the nature of the course requires students to learn emerging technologies, it will perhaps continue to be the case that students and professors alike will be experimenting with new tools in real time. The flexibility required to work through the hiccups can be frustrating, but it fosters the submission of valued feedback about the course design, as well as requests for modification. Similarly, a willingness to have an open mind to dive in and experiment with online tools will only allow you to participate in dialogues with other students and professors further.