If I had to summarize this course, 5303, Applying Educational Technology Portfolio, in one word, that word would be “freedom.” The course was unlike any I have ever taken before. I and others in my cohort spent the preceding course, 5302, understanding the COVA approach to learning, which advocates for Choice, Ownership, and Voice on the part of the learner all within an Authentic learning experience. In this course, we got to experience COVA first hand through the creation of this ePortfolio.
Using the digital artifacts we had created in 5302—our Growth Mindset Plan, Learning Manifesto, and annotated list of learning communities, among other items—we had some material with which to start the process of assembling it all and reflecting—through blogging—on why this creative endeavor is such a powerful learning tool.
While I appreciated all the freedom this course provided in terms of what my ePortfolio would look like and contain, I had a bit of difficulty with the time management freedom it allowed. Like anyone who works in education can attest, the job is never done. The only limits for how much one works are the limits he/she creates for him/herself and the number of hours in a day. That said, the work on my ePortfolio would sometimes be pushed to the back burner in order to address more time-sensitive issues. A wiser man would have carved out time in his schedule for work on the ePortfolio, and not have deviated from it. But because I knew my portfolio wasn’t due until week four of the five-week course, I could postpone working on it. Now that it is time to submit it for review and I have been working on it five days straight, I can’t help but feel like I robbed myself an opportunity to take my time with it and reflect more deeply and intentionally on what I want this to be. I know this ePortfolio is not finished. Neither I nor the instructors in the program intend for it to be. To the contrary, the investment they and I have made in creating it is done with the goal in mind that it will continue even after I have exited the program.
When I reflect on the time I spent in the classroom as a teacher, I’m not sure I would have had the guts to relinquish control of the learning the way these program instructors did and the way many of my fellow classmates in the program are grappling with doing in their classrooms. It is a scary prospect for a teacher to not specify exactly what you are looking for in a project. What if your students completely miss the mark? As a teacher there is comfort in dictating the learning. To the credit of my professors, they know significant learning is accomplished in a COVA environment and they are willing to extend to the student freedom and endure the unknowing on their part to foster an authentic learning experience.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe in accountability. One might assume with all the inherent freedom in a course that is centered on creating an ePortfolio in a COVA approach, that there is a lack of accountability. While my professor did have specific requirements, the ultimate accountability was accomplished through the social connections aspect of the course. The crucial component of 5303 is that it connects learners in a positive way. As learners and creators, we are encouraged and inspired to provide feedback to our fellow students, which in turn compels us to put forth our best effort. It is this compulsion to contribute and feel respected by our peers that holds the true power of accountability for this course.