Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET) Pepperdine University  
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Week 1/5 - Think back to a successful learning experience you have designed - what made it successful? What was your role in creating that success?

Although I have not been a teacher in the traditional sense, I have taught. I used to teach traffic safety to municipalities and corporations in the greater San Francisco Bay area. I wrote each course and curriculum, tailoring it specifically to each institution or more specifically, each group of similar type drivers or individuals. The range of drivers went from those who drove regular passenger vehicles to huge garbage trucks, street sweepers and city buses.

One of the most unforgettable and successful learning experiences that I designed and taught was to a senior member of a large corporation. He was a very important to the company’s success so they didn’t want to dismiss him for his continued DUI’s. I had a fairly good reputation for changing driving behavior so upper management hired me to turn him around. They gave me a day. This is where the psychology background instinctively kicked in. It wasn’t so much what I had him do behind the wheel of the car, or the paper work I had him read and complete, it was a single act towards the end of the day that had the greatest effect on his transformation.

When he first entered the quiet, private room tucked away in a remote location of the large building, I could tell by the look on his face and his tell-tale body language that he would rather be anywhere else but there. From the start, I tried not to condemn but to offer encouragement instead. I figured so many others before me had already put him through the ringer. The day surprisingly passed quickly, but I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him. Suddenly, I thought of something that he might be able to relate to. All the information, statistics and warnings that I’d provided hadn’t been reaching him so I asked him if he was married and if he had any children. His eyes lit up and he quickly produced several worn pictures from his wallet and proudly showed them to me. I simply said, “They’re beautiful! You must love them very much.” He looked at me face to face, for the first time that day. “I know that, in so many words, you have already said that you are unwilling to change your behavior for yourself or your employers. I am asking you right now if would you consider changing for them?” The pictures still in my hand, I held them up for him to see; he began to cry. He said that for the first time in his life, he would try to quit drinking. I had the good fortune of continued work with this organization and heard feedback from his superiors that he had had no subsequent DUI arrests. It’s moments like this that I thank God for using me to help bring about a positive change in someone’s life.

Week 1/12 - Using the same learning experience, what were your desired results? Why did you choose these results?

To put it bluntly, I was paid to provide a specific service and I achieved the desired results for the client. The desired results, in this particular case, were chosen for me. I was to bring about a positive change in the driving behavior of one, senior-level manager. Although I had achieved some major successes thus far in this career, none had been as challenging. Changing the way one acts behind the wheel of a car is not an easy task to begin with. Getting someone to stop driving drunk is tougher, if not impossible, especially with the time constraints of a single day. I would have chosen the same results of course, but I really didn’t have the faith or optimism that I could make that big of a difference in such a short amount of time. It was obvious to me that my regular approach was not going to work on this individual. I had to think beyond my standard method of operation. I had to “design” something on the spur of the moment that would get through to this troubled person. Looking back, it seems like such a small, insignificant move on my part, but in the end, reminding this man of what he valued most [his family] and then asking him to change for them, was what worked. On a personal level, I gained as much, if not more, from this learning experience as did the student. My faith in God was strengthened, my compassion for human beings was restored (yet again), and the reward of seeing positive change occur in what seemed so hopeless a situation was priceless.

Week 1/19 - Think back now to a learning experience you have recently had- were the goals explicitly stated? If not, here they still clear? Were you aware of them as a learner during the learning experience?

As an OMET student, some of the learning experiences have not been as clearly defined as I would have preferred while others have been very straightforward with the intended performance, activities and goals plainly stated upfront. However, I think the overall intent of the program, the importance of the process and collaborative learning, is being realized. Although individual classes are working towards that overall goal, they sometimes lack clarity and purpose. I was not always aware of the specific goal of each course but tried to engage in each given task keeping in mind the ultimate goal of the OMET program. The instructors are meeting their objectives, because I do not feel alienated and I do have a “sense of the whole” (Wiggins, pp. 45). Surprisingly, because the learning experience has been connected and tied together with a powerful, deliberate design, I have experienced high-yield retention and the transfer of knowledge, thus far, has been fairly successful.

Week 1/26 - Using the same learning experience you reflected on last week, did each activity explicitly map to a goal? Implicitly? Did this impact your learning during the activities?

I answered last week’s blog with generalities; my response to all learning activities thus far in the OMET program. For this exercise, I will focus on just one learning activity, in particular, and comment on the above questions. Bill Moseley taught EDUC 633-Learning Theory last semester. His syllabus was clearly designed and easy to follow. At first, the learning activities held in the virtual world of Second Life (SL) were not clear to me. I came to understand more about this unique venue as time went by and as I grew more familiar with how to best utilize the SL site. The goal of the course was to follow the essential question of “How do we learn?” The reading materials were an excellent source for helping to answer this question as well as the other four EQ’s asked throughout the class. These essential questions were explicit and aided me in my learning during the activities. I like having clear objectives up front. The questions provoked critical thinking and good discussions. These questions were interlaced with our own theories of learning, our ARP and our practice. Everything, the blogs/reflections, discussion threads, reading, and the collaborative activities in SL, etc. were all geared toward that singular goal. Not only do I feel that the goal was obtained but a secondary air of “informing and enhancing the learning of your cadre mates” was also realized.

Week 2/2 - Identify a standard that impacts your local environment or practice. Reflect on the value of the standard and its intended affect on student learning.

“Prior to any other review, including Communications and external reviewers, a draft Level I (formal, usually research-based, stand-alone products) must be reviewed and approved by the author’s Program or Project Director.” This is an extremely important standard. By enforcing the quality assurance process, WestEd's goals to develop products that are of the highest substantive and editorial excellence are met. In the Mathematics, Science and Technology program, making sure all products are carefully reviewed and approved (by not only the author’s supervisor but the Program Director as well) prior to publication and dissemination is mandatory. This ensures that all WestEd products meet the highest standards, thus reinforcing the agency brand and meeting the needs of our audiences.

Week 2/16 - As learners, we are often focused on completing assessment activities successfully as opposed to acquiring the outcomes indicated by the course- why is this? Describe a learning experience where either you have combated this learner tendency or you felt a teacher handled this well.

Week 2/23 - How do we assess learning and learners? If everyone could think of one way to assess learning that has not already been shared by someone previously in this discussion, we can create a master list of 24 examples. With you examples include the methods and when/why it is used...

I like the idea of informal portfolios. Portfolios are a body of work (selected by the student) that exhibits a range and quality of work over a specific period of time. I think this form of assessment captures the student's progress and is an excellent tool for teachers to evaluate what the student has learned thus far.

Let's get techie! What is the COOLEST (and you can only name one) learning technology you have ever used. Please include a brief statement as to why it is cool and any reference information about it where people can get further information. We are going to use this information in class next Monday.

I have been introduced to so much "cool technology" since I began the OMET program. The new tools have definitely changed my life. I am going to have to say that SKYPE is by far my favorite and most often used tool. I am actually discovering new things about it each week. I love the fact that you can chat, call, conference, and send documents and URLs quickly. I am pretty sure everyone already knows about it and how to get more information.