MDDE 665 Assignment #2 Summary

This project was a collaborative assignment in MDDE 665: Collaboration and Mentoring in Educational Environments.  It required collaboration in groups of two to four people who had to plan and lead a concurrent congress session on a topic of choice. Groups were responsible for presenting asynchronous presentations and for moderating the discussion that ensued over a two week period.  Presentations were to include any or all of a variety of media, text, slides, audio, video, and links.  Additionally, groups had to clearly indicate learning outcomes, a brief overview of topic, sample readings and resources, learning activities, and provide a summary of the discussion. Our topic was Technology and Collaboration and we used a case study as a learning example. 

 


Collaboration is important not just because it's a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives.

So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy.

Don Tapscott


 

Technology Supporting Collaboration: A Case Study

prezi tech and collabClick on the Presentation to Watch
Crystal Helbrecht, Cannice Ritchie, Ronda Olds
"Technology Supporting Collaboration: A Case Study

superherosClick the Video to Watch
This  is one of two videos in our presentation.  It was an inquiry based problem that we
collaboratively designed as a learning object to engage our colleagues.
The video was designed in GoAnimate by Crystal Helbrecht and demonstrates how useful
technology and collaboration are in creating a meaningful learning opportunity.

Artefact Reasoning

Choosing this artefact was inspired out of a discussion in my final course in the MDDE program, MDDE 601. The goal was to take an inventory of our toolbox.  The course and the discussion forum were meant for the beginning graduate student, but served me by helping me realize just how much my toolbox had expanded over the last two years.  Several things were important to me as I considered my toolbox.  I reflected on the technological tools that I had become comfortable with using, the collaborative process of working with others, the foundational pedagogical skills necessary for developing a learning object, and the organizational tools necessary for pulling it all together. As I reflected on various artefacts throughout my journey, a presentation that I developed with two other colleagues in MDDE 665 came to mind as demonstrating a solid implementation of these tools, now in my toolbox.

Reflections

Upon embarking on my Masters journey I only thought of the course content that I would learn.  I however, did not give much thought to a toolbox or preparedness prior to beginning my graduate studies. I didn't consider the skills that I had been accumulating until I reached my very last course , MDDE 601, which ironically, is intended to be the first course in the program. Honestly, I thought acceptance and paid tuition meant that I was ready and guaranteed for success. Beginning my studies in a face to face environment, the only tools I initially considered necessary were textbooks, my notebook, highlighter, pen and my laptop with my Microsoft suite of tools. My learning throughout my graduate studies goes beyond personal satisfaction, comprehension of pedagogical theory, understanding how to research, and to develop courses with the appropriate instructional design elements. Today, I possess a much larger toolbox that made the construction of our group presentation for MDDE 665 possible. 

This artefact was developed in my second to last semester and had I attempted to build it at the beginning with my very limited resources, I don't think that it would be the feature that it is.  As an elective in the MDDE program, MDDE 665 could have been taken as a second or third course in the program.  Had I attempted this course at the beginning, my view that collaboration was restrictive would have held me back from fully investing with my group.  Additionally, at an earlier stage in my/our graduate studies, we may not have had the confidence to challenge our technological skills.  Our maturity in the program had us venturing into Prezi, GoAnimate, Microsoft Powerpoint for image creation, Google Docs, Adobe Connect, and Skype. This artefact was a clear demonstration of all of us bringing something critical to the project and helping it to become the strong artefact that it was.

Artefact 5 Connections

The following reflections focus on my featured artefact development and the varied range of tools that was necessary to bring it to fruition. Having developed understanding of the APA writing style, we were careful to assign attribution not just for the textual information but for any images that we used. Through recommendations of a colleague,  I was discovering open and creative commons images and how important it is to adhere to copyright and attribution in distance education. By this point, APA implementation had become more natural and much easier to consider in artefact creation.  Additionally, collaboration had become easier and as a group we considered each others' contributions, and were able to negotiate schedules, and workload division easily which left us all very satisfied with the course, the product and the collaborative experience.

MDDE 665 Assignment: Technology Supporting Collaboration A Case Study: This project was knowledge building and fun to work on.  My group and I had worked together previously, so we had built some trust and synergy between us that we could rely on for project creation.  We were responsible for collaboratively creating (1.1-1.4) and sharing the presentation (1.8, 1.9), for moderating a discussion forum (1.7) surrounding our topic, and for participating in the forum (4.5, 4.6). Collaboration, while working through regular coursework, required scheduling and organization to meet synchronously and asynchronously (6.5) and ultimately, we succeeded by considering each other and by committing to our areas of divided up work.  Different group members contributed different strengths to the final product including GoAnimate or Prezi experience, APA expertise, and the Edmonton Case Study that we used as a learning example. Not only did we learn from each other, but this demonstrates the power of a community of inquiry to create a product better than what any individual in our group could have on their own. 

As a group, we critically questioned the benefits of technology with collaboration.  Often, we think that anything techie automatically makes on-line education better, but we were careful to frame our topic to consider the pitfalls (3.4) that can hinder collaboration (5.1). We relied on a variety of communication and document sharing tools like Google docs, and email (3.1) and we were effectively able to communicate our researched topic in a variety of forms which included text, Prezi, GoAnimate self-made videos, images, proprietary videos and articles (4.8, 5.7). We sifted through a wide range of resources and reduced them by remaining focused on our topic, quality and applicability to our main proposed learning outcomes (5.3). We strategically chose a variety of techniques and media so that we could engage and connect to our audience of colleagues (4.1, 4.2). It was a rewarding challenge to implement Prezi, to build videos in GoAnimate and to figure out the best way to imbed information within our presentation that facilitated learning (3.5).  Considerations for instructional design principles were considered as we clearly indicated learning outcomes, used media and technology to support concepts, created learning objects where appropriate ones did not already exist, and offered an opportunity for colleagues (group of learners) to apply the learning content (2.7).

We initiated an inquiry-based project where we and our colleagues could collaborate (4.7) to find and recommend appropriate technology that would marry with mobile devices and collaboration (5.5, 6.3).  The ultimate goal was to come to a final collaborative agreement on a singular application to implement to solve our problem.  Unfortunately, however, as a group we lacked the time with other congresses going on to recap the process and make a final decision.  The discussion however, was rich and I believe that in that one discussion alone we all expanded our personal and professional toolboxes by learning from others. It was satisfying to successfully support the learning of others while including them in the collaboration process (4.4) with us.  Doing this in a way that applied Vygotsky's social constructivist learning theory created an environment that was rich in interactivity and engagement (5.2). 

MY Toolbox

In addition to meeting my original learning goals and learning outcomes of the MDDE program I have successfully compiled a toolbox that helps me strategize for research (5.3) collaboration (4.5), lesson and project design, and delivery (4.1, 4.4) purposes. I have crafted this list as a reminder and demonstration of the important skills and tools that I have grown to understand throughout the process of my graduate studies. 

Collaborative Network
My understanding of the benefits of collaboration and the considerations necessary when engaging in a community of inquiry (4.5) have made it more likely that I will seek out collaborative opportunities in the future and benefit from the process. The most important piece for me outside of my own organization and efforts was my supportive and collaborative network. In hindsight, I wish that I would have started this program with 601 and built a network from the onset. It took me a couple courses to settle in and find a team that I could collaborate with and count on for peer feedback. This includes my colleagues within the MDDE program, my colleagues at work and my family (4.7). I based many of my assignments on workplace scenarios and relied on information provided by the people who I work with. Collaboration and purposeful partnering with fellow students and my colleagues allowed me to synthesize new knowledge and to validate it. I discovered that the benefits of collaboration lie in capitalizing on the strength of the individual to build a solid collective that blends perspective and expertise, while sharing the workload in a more manageable way. My learning community helped me to build my knowledge and supported me in many emotional and practical ways.


 

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Technological Tools
The graduate process has increased my awareness and competence with technological and organizational learning tools over the last two years in a way that I did not consider in the beginning when outlining my learning goals. When I began, I comfortably and regularly implemented the Microsoft suite of tools and Skype. This has since expanded to include the following:
Collaboration and Communication (4.7) - Adobe Connect, Teleconferencing, Google Hangouts, Email, Google Docs, Dropbox
Presentation - Microsoft office suite (ppt), Prezi, Google docs, Canvas, Go Animate, Powtoon, WordPress, Wordle,
Organization (4.8) - Google Docs, Dropbox, Adobe Suite, Email, Mindmeister (mindmapping)
Resources - Coursera, YouTube, Ted Talks, WordPress, lynda.com, Wikipedia, Moodle, Blackboard, Google scholar, Creative Commons image selector. search function within AU discussion forums, AU and TRU online library search tools
Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
When I was in doubt about what or how to implement software, my help strategies including lynda.com, Google and colleagues. Future software goals include adding Camtasia and Articulate to my arsenal. Additionally, Microsoft Sway, iPeer and Panopto have peaked my interest and have come with rave recommendations from colleagues within my graduate program.

Organization - Personal
Tools that I implemented for my personal organization in my coursework, collaborative commitments and my assignment work include my laptop, mobile devices (phone, tablet), camera/ mic for skype, texts, notebook/binders, and a clear space to work either at home or at work. My calendar is a big part of this organization. Additionally, folders, and folders within folders for organization have been key for me. Finally, I have recognized the value of having a solid back up of my work and save material on a thumb drive and on my desktop (6.5)regularly.  Throughout this program, I have seen colleagues lose their work and the stress that it causes them.

Organization - Familial
It helped me greatly to plan meals 3 weeks in advance. It kept me organized, and reduced my excuses and stress, so that I could attend to my work. With a menu list on the fridge, anyone could be responsible for dinner.


Overall Conclusions

If admission requirements to Athabasca University's Master of Education in Distance Education had indicated the list of tools currently in my toolbox, I would have questioned my ability or time availability to learn the necessary software and may have reconsidered application to the program.  It is very rewarding however, to learn such a range of technological and collaborative strategies in an applied and learner-centred manner.  It demonstrates my responsibility and ownership for my current and ongoing learning. I am really amazed at what I have managed to learn in addition to my regular course content.  It is very satisfying to be able to apply all of these tools and to collaboratively use them with others as demonstrated in my MDDE 665 collaborative artefact.