Another semester is upon us, and I can’t believe it’s already my 5th graduate class. Once this class is over, I will have successfully completed my Master’s Certificate in Educational Technology and Digital Media and will continue classes to finish a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction. My current graduate course is called Online and Blended Learning. I have been immersed in this topic since the pandemic began, but my understanding of it has evolved over the past 9 months.
When schools had to close down last spring, teachers had to suddenly begin Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT), which is significantly different than Online or Blended Learning. In an online post called, “The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning“, they explain that ERT is “a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances.” As we have experienced first hand this year, moving to online format during a pandemic is very complex. Students, families, and teachers are dealing with trauma and multifaceted issues. It’s hard to prepare and adapt to an online learning model when it’s forced, rather than developed over time. However, it is important to remember that even after this time in history, Online and Blended Learning is here to stay.
After we experienced Emergency Remote Teaching in the spring, I was given the opportunity to teach at the online school with my division in September. I was able to use the skills that I gained during my Emergency Remote Teaching and the knowledge I gained in my EdTech classes to enhance the online education for my students. I created instructional videos, facilitated synchronous classes, and planned asynchronous activities in a purposeful way. I soon moved into a new position that allowed me to support other teachers, students, and families with technology and online instruction, which is the role that I am currently in. My love for online learning has given me so many opportunities in just a short amount of time, which is why I am so excited about this semester of learning.
Even though I have gained a lot of experience with Online and Blended Learning this year, I still have so much to learn. My desire is to become more knowledgable about Online Learning as a whole. I have 3 goals that I want to accomplish this semester, but I know these goals will continue throughout my education career.
1. I want to develop an online course that can be used by both students and teachers, that is easy to navigate, and engaging to learn. My hope is that it can be used beyond this class to help other educators and students.
2. Another goal that I have is to gain more insight into the most effective models for Online and Blended Learning. Keeping up with the weekly reading materials, reading my classmates blog posts, and engaging with tweets and articles on Twitter will help me with this goal.
3. For my last goal, I want to know more about the social, economical, and ethical concerns with Online and Blended Learning. I have learned a lot about the barriers that stand in the way of Online Learning, but I also want to develop strategies to overcome some of these problems.
These goals can not be easily accomplished within 4 months, but I am determined to grow and learn in each of these areas. I am confident that each of my classmates will have an important role in my growth this semester and I am looking forward to being a part of their journeys as well. Looking back, I never realized how rewarding and engaging this Master’s journey would be. I have learned so much and feel even more passionate about EdTech than when I started. Even though I am nearing the end of my Master’s Certificate program, I am still looking forward to the new semester and all the learning opportunities it will bring.