EDC 668: Managing Technology for Change... That's the title of a course I took in the final trimester of my Online MA in Educational Technology (OMET) program at Pepperdine University. The OMET architects and faculty have done such a good job of integrating the curriculum of this program that it's hard to look at just this class without also connecting it with learnings from all of the other classes. Here's my attempt.
The course looked at the current state of technology, the educational environment, and the political climate that's shaping education. It showed me that the business world is changing to adopt new and emerging technologies. It identified the critical problem that the Federal, state and local educational policymakers are caught in a cycle that's hard to break, and that students within the public education system are being left behind the global curve. The course highlighted the value of technology as a vehicle for engaging learners; as a medium for collecting, organizing and publishing artifacts of experience and the learning process; and for connecting learners with instructors, other learners, and prospective employers. In this class, we created a working portfolio as we progressed. As an undergraduate art major, I already appreciated the value of portfolios, although I had never created one for the purpose of sharing my values and non-artistic experience. The idea of a portfolio closely aligns with work I've done in my other two Summer 2007 courses: EDC 638D and EDC 667. In those courses, I looked at discovering what I stand for, shaping myself into a product based on those core beliefs and values, and evangelizing my core beliefs. I see my portfolio as an important promotional piece that contributes to that end.
This course also explores the value of rubrics and peer review as alternative forms of assessment. I believe the primary value of rubrics is that, since alternatives to "drill and kill" learning and standards-based testing are often difficult to assess, rubrics provide a qualitative, yet accurate, measure that student, teacher, and assessor (if different from teacher) can all understand and refer to before, during, and after the assignment. The OMET program has proven the value of reflection, and rubrics give concrete feedback to inspire reflection. Peer review comes in many forms, and I believe it's often more powerful than instructor feedback.
In summary, there's a growing problem in that the educational system (especially K-12) in the US is not adequately preparing students to enter the rapidly evolving work environment. Technology can aid in the learning experience, and it can help students market and position themselves for a quickly evolving, globally competitive business world. And finally, all the technology in the world will not help unless we also employ effective measures of feedback and assessment.
This course is almost perfect. Melissa Anderson is a rare mentor of many who truly practices what she preaches. The course is a living example of the principles it conveys. I only have two recommendations: 1) the course could be a little less individual and a little more team-focused (I really like team interactions, and I know the rest of my cadre has grown from team interactions), and 2) in support of a cadre member's recommendation (Scott James), look at ways of having students collaborate with students in other universities, possibly even from other countries.