At the end of this course, I have many final thoughts. I am amazed at how much I learned and grew in an engaging course with a very interesting format. The weekly reflective summaries I composed each week illustrate my progress as a student and storyteller. By choosing my own path and collaborating with my peers, I experienced the most effective learning I’ve ever encountered.
Me as a learner in this course: Of all the skills and knowledge I acquired through this course, an awareness of my abilities as a learner stands out. I jumped right in and learned by doing assignments of my choice (with some guidelines), reading and reflecting on the weekly readings, and (above all else) communicating with others. The readings from Lankshear & Knobel provided an invaluable source of theory behind the learning and creative processes. These text taught me (among many things) the necessary components to effective learning: initiative (DIY), individual choice, flexibility, and (above all else) collaboration. Based on these readings, it is more apparent than ever that the traditional “brick and mortar” format of education is not meeting the needs of a changing society. Technology allows us greater capabilities for expression, communication, learning, and empowerment. In short, we need an educational system that recognizes these traits and embodies the communicative and collaborative nature of effective learning. The concept of “remixing” and the idea of “authorship/ownership” also proved very enlightening. It further demonstrates that almost everything, in a sense, is collaborative. In future courses I take as a graduate student, I will consistently seek out opportunities to collaborate and exchange information with my class (even when it isn’t required).
My co-design of this course: This course was unlike any other I’ve ever had. Prior to this term, I had never heard of DS106. I had experience with online classes, but they were never in the open and accessible to all users. Also, I had never been expected to use so much social media. I do, however, feel extremely grateful for being required to use outlets like Hypothes.is and Twitter. These tools improved my understanding by interacting with other students (and sometimes people who weren’t even in my class). Like everyone else, I contributed work and insight that inevitably contained my own unique perspective. Even though there might have been other librarians with similar skill sets, mine and everyone else’s input improved the experience across the board. By annotating weekly readings, I entered extremely helpful dialogues that expanded my understanding. I am certain that my comments helped others too. By creating and reviewing the creations of others, I am confident that I made valuable contributions to my peers. In all honesty, the only thing I would have changed about this course is to make it completely in the open. This, of course, isn’t possible due to the requirements of higher education institutions. Otherwise, no changes (dare to dream).
My understanding of pedagogy: Taking this course over summer term was painful but rewarding. My instructors were forced to cram a semester’s worth of content into 8 short weeks. As the result, I spent nearly every free moment I had on coursework. To be fair, I was warned about the workload at the outset, but I also recently started a new job and have been getting acclimated. I learned a valuable lesson about not “biting off more than I can chew”.
My understanding of pedagogy transformed in many ways. Above all else, I learned the importance of collaboration and communication (as previously mentioned) and that our education system needs to change to address the ways in which technology has transformed society. As a librarian, I strive to include a hands-on group activity in every class I teach. Prior to this course, however, I never understood how crucial this was. We are all both instructors and students with invaluable contributions to provide. In more individualized assignments, I learned the importance of allowing the learner to take charge of their education using assignment choice and other personalized options. Effective learning is, much like human nature, collaborative and expressive to benefit everyone.