EC&I 831 was off the beaten path for the ETAD program. I took the course in the Winter term of 2016 and it was offered through the University of Regina and I was able to participate in the course through the Western Dean’s Agreement (what a wonderful agreement!). U of R is my alma mater and it was really neat to [virtually] go back and take this course from two instructors that I had worked with during my undergraduate studies.
This course took a different approach than all of the ETAD courses from the U of S that I had taken. The course’s homebase was in Google+, a social network that I had always wanted to explore further, but never had an avenue to do so. It was also the first graduate level course I took that had weekly synchronous meetings, which was a nice change of pace at this point in the program, where I found myself starting to get quite comfortable in the discussion board style courses.
EC&I 831 was focused around the use of social media and idea of open education. Throughout the course we were exposed to a number of relevant topics: ranging from Snapchat to trolls to connectivism to activism net neutrality. Throughout the course, we blogged regularly about our reflections on the topics and commented on each others’ blogs each week. Through blogging and Tweeting with each other, a sense of community quickly emerged in the class and the dialogue and thinking was constantly being pushed, not only by classmates but by people outside of the class who were able to access us due to the nature of social media.
My learnings of the course can best be summarized by the podcast that I created as a summary of learning for the course and is embedded below.
For a major assessment of this course, we were challenged to work towards a personal learning project. Through this, we could learn about anything we wanted. Anything. The only requirement was that we needed to access open educational resources and share our learning in real time as we worked through the project. Seeing the golden opportunity this was, and the creaky, nearly-broken coffee table in my living room, I decided to learn more about woodworking by building myself a new coffee table. Because we documented our learning on-the-fly, you can look back at my personal blog to see how I progressed through this challenging task.
I enjoyed the opportunity to step outside of the typical ETAD realm of courses and see how a different institution approaches master courses through digital platforms. Although I struggled with keeping up at times, I did find the blogging to be a very valuable tool and would be a great alternative to discussion boards, while keeping the same sort of discourse and dialogue open. Now that I am wrapping up my graduate studies and will find myself with more time, I hope to continue to blog as a way to further develop my thinking and learning as an education professional.