By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. -Confucious-
I have to say that this quote sums up my experiences this term. I have used all three of these methods to make it through this journey into my first graduate studies course AND the study of Web 2.0 tools. Let me begin with my challenges (because I always love to leave the best for last).
I think that technologically speaking, my biggest challenge would have to be learning how to podcast. I struggled with the idea that I had to first find the appropriate software that would allow me to podcast (I ended up using GarageBand), learn how to use that software and then find an external site that would host it. Being only somewhat tech-savvy, I had trouble uploading it to the external site (as a whole entity) and then embedding it properly. I read many, many podcasting tutorials but the more that I read, the more confusing and frustrated I got........(note: this would be the "bitter experience" that Confucious was talking about!) So finally, I decided to consult with my classmates. I was luck enough to find Yearn to Learn blog by Heather Eby, who posted her podcast early. I sent an urgent "Help!" email to Heather and then realizing I probably wouldn't be able to get help in time, I resorted to Confucious's "imitation" method. I clicked on the podcast to see which external site hosted Heather's podcast and started over again from that point. I am thankful to say, it worked! Heather was also kind enough to email me back with the steps that she had taken to create her podcast. Thanks again Heather!!
I think that my next big challenge was not technology related. I think that it is getting into the mindset of being a graduate student. It hasn't very long since I was still doing my undergrad after all. The whole idea of being an editor and being a part of creating my own educational content is VERY different from my experiences during my undergrad. There is no "lecturer" imparting wisdom that I faithfully copy down, or dusty library shelves that I search through finding articles that were written ten years before I ever attended the school. It has taken much practice to get use to reading peers blogs and scanning the internet for "gems" to use in my own blog. Even though this is an experience that is wonderfully freeing, I couldn't help but feel that I was stepping off of a cliff into thin air.........have I gotten used to this? I think that I am getting there. I think that my best attempt so far would have to be my blog post on professional development. I think that in that post I finally started using peer blogs as a springboard for discussion.
Another challenge was learning and exploring Web 2.0 tools at a breakneck pace. There were some tools that I would have loved to take more time to explore and create but to get through all of these tools we had to keep moving. Sometime over Christmas break, I would like to come back to one or two of the tools to explore them in more depth. Podcasting is one that I would definitely like more time with so that I can feel more comfortable using it in my classroom.
As for the highlights, there were MANY! I loved the fact that after each week I had something new to rave about. I think that the learning that I have done so far in these three hectic but short months far surpassed any other courses that I have ever taken in my life! Here are a few things that I feel were my successes this term:
* becoming a blogger
* using blogging as pro-d
* finding new social networks that enrich my pro-d
* letting go of my "paper obsession" (the past few assignments have been done solely on the computer, all my readings, besides Richardson, have been online)
* learning about new tools and sharing my learning with others in my district
* getting others excited about Web 2.0 in the classroom
So, to conclude. A very busy, hectic term but so many rewards! Will I continue to blog? Of course? Will I continue to explore Web 2.0 on my own, definitely.