I took ECUR 805 in the month of August 2016. The format for this course was quite unique and, to be honest, a little stressful for myself, mostly due to travel plans I had previously made. The entire course was compacted within three weeks. Somehow, the course perfectly aligned with my travel plans for the summer and I found myself working a lot in the passenger seat driving through the Rockies, in Calgary with my newborn nephew, and back home celebrating a mini family reunion. Needless to say, it was a very busy time and a challenge to my personal time management skills – something it turns out I was able to handle.
The focus of 805 was to independently explore a topic of interest that we had a motivation to learn about. Having implemented Genius Hour in my own classroom previously, I was excited for the opportunity to pursue a passion of my own again in a Masters course. Like nearly every single student I have ever presented with Genius Hour, I initially found myself frozen and unable to find a topic that I wanted to go ahead with.
Luckily, due to the very tight time restrictions of the course, I forced myself to make a choice: one-to-one computing programs in schools. I’m first to admit that this isn’t exactly a passion of mine. But, I had taught in one-to-one environments previously and I knew that I would be helping implement a program to support teachers in one-to-one classrooms in my upcoming role in the fall. Being an advocate of technology in classrooms, I haven’t been immune to the nonstop criticisms of technology in classrooms and am often confronted with questions about this when I tell anyone about what I do and how I do it. So, I figured this would be a great opportunity to dive into some research and get well versed on both sides of the issue.
Aside from my research paper, practically the only other requirement of the course was to review a peer’s draft of their paper. Thankfully, and likely by design, the classmate I was assigned to peer review was investigating a very similar topic: BYOD (bring your own device) policies in the classroom. Through his paper, I found additional sources for my paper and I ended up strengthening up some portions of my paper after reading his arguments and receiving the feedback. That opportunity to deeply share my work and review someone else’s work was something I really did not understand the true value of until I had the chance to do so.
Although not directly an outcome of the course, I think my biggest take away was the need for a solid plan for any research that you plan to do. With my tight time constraints, I had to find the discipline to work on my paper daily and in non-traditional settings, like the car or on a picnic bench.