Mindlab Post Graduate Certificate: A reflection

I undertook this post graduate Certificate of Applied Practice in order to understand and develop the quality of e-learning and technological practice in my classroom. However, there was so much more.

This reflection is organised around the four papers the certificate consisted.

The first, ‘Learning in Context’ essentially covered my key personal aims for undertaking this course. I discovered and became proficient in a number of digital applications and tools. These applications included augmented reality (Aurasma), animation (monkey jam), making videos and movies (movie maker), coding (scratch), gaming (Kahoot-it), using Booktracks, creating online discussion forums (wordpress, wikispaces), robotics and using 3D modelling.  I went beyond my own learnings to develop the powerful element of student motivation through technology.  Higher collaborative and cognitive engagement and publishing for authentic audiences are some examples of this.

Criteria One of the Registered Teacher Criteria (RTC) (Ministry of Education, 2011) addresses establishing and maintaining professional relationships. This certificate programme has allowed me the opportunity to engage in deeper educational relationships and learning.

I shared with my team a number of these tools and implemented them in my classroom. I expected higher engagement of students with the increased use of technology but was pleasantly surprised as to the collaboration and critical thinking that also evolved. The classroom was really buzzing and the results were more diverse and considered than from methods used in the past. As I developed my learning through 32 weeks, I developed classroom practice. All criteria from 6 to 11 of RTC were developed through this process.

The ‘Leadership’ paper guided us through various leadership theories, skills and approaches and helped my development of criteria 5 of RTC. Although I have twenty years’ experience in management leadership positions, this paper brought to light two key things for me. The first was that I was a leader in the classroom environment and therefore leadership theories and skills transfer across to how I run the classroom. The second was discovering through a research assignment, Daniel Goleman’s theory of primal leadership which emphasises the importance of emotional intelligence in effective leadership. I am a studious, committed and experienced teacher and leader. However, I have come to realise that social interaction beyond the task is a key competency in leadership.

Where the first half of this certificate involved four hours a week face to face learning in a collaborative environment, the second half was predominantly online learning and research. The ‘research’ element helped me improve academic habits; that of researching peer reviewed articles for robust authenticity, articulating ideas, using academic terminology and citing and referencing correctly. It supported deeper understanding of conceptualising effective practice, utilising 21st century learning skills, targeted assessment and cultural awareness – RTC: 6 – 12.   I enjoyed researching, analysing and writing a literature review on Flipped Classrooms. Although this concept appeared to be a great solution for time-strapped curriculum, it was valuable to evaluate the theory against the practical concerns of this approach. It was also a reminder of the need to thoroughly research before embarking on a time-consuming or major change.

Finally, the critical analysis of educational practice in ‘Applied Practice in Context,’ focused on the governance of educational institutions.  I explored not just the concepts but also the related school policies that are being challenged by new technology.  This included meaningful conversations with colleagues. Writing my first ever blog was an exhilarating journey in actively participating in professional online discussions.

Early on in the course I gained insight into the complexity and power of collaboration and developed the same insight into reflective practice.  I became a more active online community member with social media and online learning communities. Both will continue to be valuable skills in furthering my knowledge of latest trends and useful digital and collaborative tools, even though it quickly fills one’s inbox!  My perspective of social media has changed and I believe it adds value to students’ learning and social development.

Motivated to explore both Ministry of Education and my own school policies about ICT, ethics and cultural responsiveness in conjunction with other research sources, I developed a greater understanding of these policies and how they are applied in my school setting.

There are many other learned concepts not mentioned here that I have or will actively use. Design thinking and social entrepreneurship are two examples. I have used a modified version of an assignment for an inspiring class programme. Consideration of learning spaces and the financial literacy game are others, both of which are being developed in my class. Others supported my pedagogical thinking, such as the power of inquiry based learning.

Thirty two weeks of learning about future focused, globalised and e-learning has indeed led me to teach and provide learning programmes that are closer to the ideal of 21st century learning. I have been enlightened and the changes in my teaching have just begun.  Improved classroom programmes and greater success and engagement of my students will always be my primary focus. Increased professional collaboration and furthering my professional development are high priority goals.

Ministry of Education. (2011). Registered Teachers Criteria
http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Registered-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning

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