If you want to help prepare students for the future, you must teach them to learn how to learn and how to be flexible and adapt to a new learning environment (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, & Cummings, 2018). If it weren’t for this DLL program through Lamar University and the COVA (Choice, Ownership, and Voice through Authentic learning) model, I don’t believe I would be close to completing a Master’s Degree. It was never something I anticipated on achieving, with a math and science background, I didn’t believe a traditional master’s program with only writing papers would be a possibility for me. The first assignment I remember feeling overwhelmed at first at the overabundance of choice, but then followed by relief. The relief of not being forced to write a paper because I was given the choice to present the information on any platform. I created a PowerPoint which I turned into a video. I had never done a voice-over or written a script, so it was a new endeavor. The thing that I was most fascinated about in making this video was that I learned more through having choices. By not writing a traditional paper, I not only learned about the content of the class but how to use technology to make a video. Looking back this was a very primitive way to make the video, but spending long hours and weekends on this assignment, I felt an accomplishment. To me that is what the COVA model and a significant learning environment are all about, it is not about choosing the easiest path, but combining what you know with what can learn to take ownership of your learning.
The innovation plan I created has evolved over the past year and a half. The authentic innovation plan course pushed me so far out of my comfort zone with writing a literature review and editing a video, I wasn’t sure my sanity would ever return. But having put so much work into my innovation plan, and creating a solid foundation, made it easier to implement. To accomplish a goal that I have not previously accomplished it is necessary to do something you have never done before (McChesney, Covey, & Huling, 2012). Many excellent ideas begin with positive intentions for success and are full of energy when developed, but lack stamina for long-term change. I set a solid foundation and built on small goals to pursue real change and not get caught up in the day to day whirlwind.
Initially, I wanted to implement blended learning once a week. I used the video resources in the Ebook that the district provided along with teacher-led instruction. I allowed the students to choose which way they wanted to learn the course material. The videos I embedded in the LMS were boring and long, so few students were wanting to work at their own pace. After getting student feedback, I began the challenge of making the videos, not weekly but every day. It is challenging to transition from giving the students control for their learning because this is more time consuming (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, & Cummings, 2018). At the beginning of developing the course, it was very time consuming developing projects with choices and making videos. The new blended learning model allows the majority of my class to work at their own pace, so I could work with small groups with teacher-led instruction. This effective use of technology allowed students to be more engaged, improve student’s behavior and transformed my teaching methods.
My learning philosophy has not changed since this program has started, but this program has provided more solutions to implement problem-based learning and experiential learning (Bates, 2014). Next year I want to take the COVA model further by creating more differentiated projects and modules for students to work at different levels or advance to higher levels. I am both training teachers this summer and attending training to learn how to use technology to provide differentiation in my classroom. I have implemented some of this differentiation and it does have some disadvantages that I will need to work on. Students are more concerned about their grades than the learning, so I will have to find a way to meet students with fair expectations. Another concern is when I provide students with choices, some students feel overwhelmed because they want to be told exactly what steps needed to make a 100. I explain to them that this is not realistic that I can provide them guidelines for their expectations, but not step by step instructions. I imagine next year will be filled with an enormous amount of learning of trial and error, but I look forward to the journey!
Bates, T. (2014, July 14). Learning theories and online learning. Retrieved from https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/07/29/learning-theories-and-online-learning/
Harapnuik, D. K., Thibodeaux, T. N., & Cummings, C. D. (2018). Choice, Ownership, and Voice through Authentic Learning Opportunities. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=7291
McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press.