‘A’ for Authenticity

Today I worked on my ePortfolio for the first time since completing the ADL program. It has been a strange experience, and uncomfortable. Dr.H was very intentional throughout the program on insisting that we have choice, and that our innovation plan should fit the needs of our community. At every opportunity he told us that our ePortfolio belonged to us. I can still hear him saying via Zoom…”It’s yours, make it work for you!”

Yet, honestly, I was in grad school. There was a rubric. I would receive a grade. I was earning a degree.

Today, I’m not. For the first time, It truly became completely mine. What direction will I take my innovation plan? How will everything I’ve learned fit into the the true needs of my learning community?

After that initial fear, I realized I really do have everything in place that I need. I made a few minor tweaks, revised my proposal, and am gearing up with my small team of influencers. Because I learned with the COVA approach, I can now move forward in the learning process and perpetuate choice, ownership, voice, and authenticity for more learners to come.

Final Answers

This program has clarified pieces of visions I’ve had for a while, and given me a map on how to reach goals for my students, my school, and my district. I now have the language and leverage to conduct better conversations and execute plans that I know will help our students become the digital learners and leaders that THEY need to be for a future we can’t even yet imagine. 

Q: What has worked for you?

A: What truly does work is the COVA framework. This final discussion post and synthesis process of our entire learning is proof of that. I’ve been putting together this last piece for my ePortfolio, and as I reflect back on the choices I’ve made in this entire program, my voice is even now being shaped as in this authentic process I am realizing all I have done. 

Q: What can you improve upon?

A: Now that I have worked through a two year loop in my LC, I know that I can always plan better. Continual experience will recursively aid in better planning.

Q: What lessons have you learned?

A: I have learned so much… but the most important lesson is that I don’t have to know it all, that the whole point is THIS. That I will always be learning. The strengths I gain along the way will make my journey moving forward easier, and weaknesses will remain my teacher.

But also, I’ve learned the importance of collaboration and finding “my” people.

Q: Where are you looking to anticipate change?

A: I am asking next year to take over the GT work on our campus. I theorize that if I work with a smaller cohort, our work has a greater possibility of success. 

Q: What is the diversity measure of your network?

A: In one way, the level of intellectual diversity is limited as I am still looking for specific stakeholders that are “disruptive ready”. I understand Torres’s point here is that great leaders are able to work and experience success with a diverse set of people, which in some ways I don’t see as relevant in initiatives such as mine. ALL are welcome, and I do believe that as far as race and culture is concerned, my personal diversity measure is strong.

Q: Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?

A: Yes! Let’s do it. I’m so ready to apply the gas, but am not in that clutch position. YET.

BLOOMING

I remember reading through the program map on Dr. H’s ePortfolio when I started my first course, 5303. I cobbled together each assignment on Google Sites and didn’t even really understand the titles of the other courses that lay ahead of me. Now, looking at that list of familiar topics is astounding. 

I decided to pursue this degree plan because it seemed, in 2020, that we desperately needed help on how best to teach in an online environment. I learned so much more than I could have imagined. Learning theory, inquisitiveness, and self-directed learning I now see as obvious foundations to any education initiative. Understanding the importance of having an organizational change strategy and being prepared with quality instructional design are absolutely necessary when talking about online and blended learning, especially when doing so effectively brings change to an organization. Our innovation plans will only happen if we work within our professional learning networks initiating crucial conversations as we create new cultures of learning in significant environments that are fostered through the use of ePortfolios.  

Somehow, one step at a time, with a cohort I’m honored to be a part of, we did it. We constructed all of that knowledge. On this side of the process, it’s almost more astounding to see how it all actively fits together. Every single thing I learned fit into my personal practice, and intuitively led me to where I needed to go next with my innovation plan. The instructional design of THIS curriculum was well thought out, if only visible upon completion.

And upon completion, the learning is visible here. THIS construction serves as the ultimate Bloom’s example of higher order thinking. Here we have created, evaluated, and are now analyzing. It’s the ultimate in applying digital learning.

Resources in Digital Environments

In the digital environment of this course, I have been in a unique position to reap all possible rewards. Through most of my learning journey in the ADL program, I have worked with Allison Palmer, Pedro Beltran, and Brianna Rodriguez. We discovered what each of our strengths are, and learned to work together leveraging those strengths. My strength is writing, so I took the lead in most of our drafting. The publication that Allison submitted was a piece focusing on ePortfolios as assessment that we edited for her. Pedro and Brianna’s was similar, with a focus on blended learning. As ePortfolios fits under the umbrella of blended learning, this wasn’t a stretch for us as a team of four to edit and collaborate.

At the same time, I had been working through a draft of another piece that included ideas I’ve been playing around with for a while during this program. After formalizing that draft, I shared it with Jane Ngyuen and Tamara Sanford – two colleagues that I met in my very first DLL course in October of 2020. To have the opportunity to look at how far we have all come since that time was a gift. I enjoyed reading their work and collaborating with them again during the writing portion of this course.

For the podcast, I again played around with old and new. My previous work with Allison, Pedro, and Brianna was too good not to include in my ePortfolio, as it includes a conversation with Dr. Harapnuik.

This Spring as I encountered the directives for the podcast anew, I considered how I might conduct one in my own learning environment. I invited 4 key stakeholders in my district to participate in a conversation on our gifted and talented program in this district and how technology effects that program. More than a quality product, it was a strategic move for continuing to invite my colleagues to look at how we are providing all learners in our district with choice, ownership, and voice in an authentic way.

Usability Testing & Reflection

click image for video overview

For the asynchronous ePortfolio creation course, I asked our campus instructional coach, Dr. Marie Miller, if I could record a live zoom call with her as she worked through the first module. I also asked a former district coach to complete the course and provide written feedback (without any input from me) so I could compare. 

  • How your stakeholders/peers are able to navigate the Introduction/Overview/Start Here section of your course and how they are able to navigate to and engage in a short activity from the first module.

My walkthrough with Dr. Miller was extremely informative. To hear her think out loud through my course construction provided excellent feedback and validation for my though processes. I asked her to log on to Canvas, and follow the prompts through the course. I tried to not steer her in any particular direction, as I wanted to observe what choices she made in navigation. I told her that she didn’t need to actually complete any of the activities for this initial walk-through, just share thoughts on the directives. By watching her, I observed that she did not click on any of the sidebar menu options. Instead, she clicked strait through to “Modules”. I’m wondering if I should modify the “Welcome”. 

  • How long will your usability test last?

I anticipated the recording lasting 20-40 minutes. I knew we would only work through the first module, but I also knew that Dr. Miller is very thorough and inquisitive. The recording ended up at the 31 minute mark. 

  • What are the criteria for the activity that you want your testers to do?

I want to observe and listen to my tester as she worked through the navigation of the entire first module to ensure variety and clarity as well as depth and complexity of the subject matter.  

  • How will your testers report back?

Dr. Miller’s usability test was a recorded Zoom session. The other usability test from a district coach was written after an independent test, provided to me later. The differences in feedback were interesting. I also have a Google form at the end of Module 1 that they completed. As the course is already live for our district, I am periodically receiveing Google form submissions that will continue to inform my course corrections. 

  • What were the lessons you learned from the usability testing feedback?

From the filmed usability test, I learned that my request for users to record a welcome video or add personal information before starting the course might not be realistic. No one that has opened the course has done this, and in the recording, Dr.Miller didn’t even go to the welcome page. 

My “Resources” page might need to be rethought as well. When walking through with Dr.Miller, I was able to clarify for her that “Reading Choices” meant just that-I was providing more resources than necessary, offering choice to my learner. But when the district coach worked through the course on her own, she did not understand that. She wrote: “The participant is not guided to choose. Is the participant supposed to watch and read everything?” I am wondering if this is because she is not accustomed to having choice? Should I NOT provide choice? Should I be more clear? These are questions to which I don’t yet have answers. 

I’m excited to continue to learn with my stakeholders to improve the functionality of my course. Below you will find usability test video and written feedback.