*whew!*

Well, I survived. I’ve completed the major work and projects for my online summer course in Blackboard. During June I raced to keep up as one day equaled approximately one week. To anyone considering an online summer course, here’s my advice: be ready, get out of the gate quickly, and check in twice a day (early and late if you have to). Previously I had taken online courses that were aligned with a fall or spring semester. It was much easier to keep up with those courses, falling into a well-worn semester routine. My only summer course experiences had all been face to face. In a classroom, you are reminded daily of your intense routine; at home, you better keep up with it yourself or you’re toast. I found myself putting the assignments on my calendar, and then backing up several days to to schedule reminders to myself to start projects early. I also checked the gradebook regularly to ensure I hadn’t overlooked anything. I’m irritatingly (I’m sure) time-oriented, so this was done in almost a frenzy. (I won’t even tell you how many clocks and calendars I have in my house. If I have an obsessive-compulsive bone in my body, it’s about time.) I’m relieved to be done with the bulk of it. I came home yesterday afternoon, lay down, and immediately slept for three hours. I’m feeling a bit more human today.

on being a leader

Much of the discussion in the course I’m taking necessarily swirls around what is expected or needed of the school principal in terms of technology leadership. My classmates are teaching in schools that range from minimal technology budgets and support to high levels of one or both. On either end of the scale, the potential for technology use is overwhelming to the classroom teacher. There is so much out there, so much to know, so much to learn, so much that budget won’t allow, so much that students already use. It’s daunting to consider the future as an administrator who, among many other duties, will need to build a culture that embraces the technology that supports student learning and teacher growth and development.

Of course, talk to 10 people and you will hear 10 different stories about the state of K-12 education and K-12 educational technology in the next five, 10 and 20 years – and beyond. Those stories mostly focus on specific types of technology and their uses in education, or perhaps on pervasive technology and the overwhelming future of connectivity. It’s not a precise analogy by any means, but I keep thinking back to my middle school and high school teachers telling me how I’d better learn the metric system because by the time I was adult there would be nothing else. Ah. Right. My point is that technology, education, and technology in education will still take unexpected turns, because in the real (as opposed to theoretical) world, human beings make choices that drive the market, the educationsphere, and our future. We are faulty and sometimes downright silly, but the path is a human one, not a purely technological one.

So, for my two cents, I firmly believe that educational administrators have the right (the duty!)  to shape that future, and to participate in how it should unfold. Rather than being overwhelmed, surround yourself with people who can participate in your vision. Remember that envisioning and leading is a part of the job, and that includes envisioning and leading in educational technology development and usage.  Set a path, determine a roadmap, train the teachers, lead like administrators with a passion. The path may need to swerve, the roadmap should be revised regularly, teachers will still need training, and administrators will still have passion (or retire). In the meantime, start small and think toward something big. Perhaps staffing models need to change, with teachers working hand-in-hand with facilitators (who are more technology focused) and supported by mobile technicians. Then the teachers can be empowered to teach. Impossible! Not enough money! No one will agree to it! No time like the present to start thinking about it, though. Determine what steps can be made to move in the direction that will most feasibly support the future of education as it is locally envisioned. This is leadership! Be a leader!

keeping up

Keeping up with my online summer class continues to be difficult, but do-able. This week I’ve been doing some reading in preparation for a paper, which I finished tonight and uploaded a just a few short hours before the 11:59pm deadline last night. I can easily envision how students “wait until the last minute” to upload assignments, and now I have a little more understanding. In my case, I’ve been working on the paper (and the other activities) late in the evening after my first job (work) and my second job (kids) have closed up for the night. Juggling everything and then getting that paper in on time while zipping through other assignments has been challenging, but it certainly brings back my time management skills. I suppose I will have a little more perspective next time I hear in my office that a student tried uploading a paper at the last minute only to meet a technical challenge that required assistance. Yesterday, when my class would not appear in Blackboard for an hour or so, I had the brain-freezing thought that it might be me this time.

rolling along

Things have smoothed out in the online course. *whew* I’m finding the summer course pace to be faster than I like. It’s not just the reading and keeping up with the assignments; it’s also the timing of discussion. In this course, we’re expected to post early and then be active on the discussion board during the day. That makes sense, because during a longer semester each topic would probably be out there for about a week and you’d be expected to post early in the week and then be active during the days that follow. The problem, if you are not prepared for it, is that the quick pace is a new rhythm, and one that needs to fit the timeline of the course rather than your own personal timeline. No working on every assignment late at night after the kiddies go to bed. I like the course, I like the discussion and the learning … but I’ll probably look for something in the fall or spring instead of the summer next time, for my sanity’s sake.

In thinking about my own experience, I would caution anyone considering  an online summer course to consider their family obligations, their  work obligations and their need for sleep.

welcome

Welcome to any of my classmates who visit my blog. Enjoy poking around, and if you have any questions about it or blogs in general I’d be happy to respond. Right now I’m pretty happy that I can get ahead of the discussion posts, because I am incredibly busy tonight! Hurrah for online learning!

teachers make the difference

Just a short note to say that the professor in the course I’m taking this summer is apparently not easily put off his stride. I reported the book mix-up, and early the next day he was on it. He found that the bookstore had ordered and distributed the wrong book. But he announced that the book we had could easily be substituted and he rolled with it. I admire his grace under pressure. Especially since I kind of wigged out. I was able to keep most of my wigout between me and you, gentle reader, but I was wigging nonetheless. Well played, prof!

online learning heartburn

Did I say that everything was going well? And now, welcome to online learning heartburn. I’m merrily zipping through first-day assignments when I discover something that nags the working online learner: I should have posted early in the day. Why? Because the syllabus says, hey, post message board comments early in the day or it doesn’t count. *sigh* Of course, today was the first day the syllabus was posted, and I couldn’t get to it until after work. So, now I’ve finished tomorrow’s assignment so that I can be a day ahead and post comments on others’ posts later in the day (which apparently is fine). But this is no big deal. It’s just a matter of getting a little ahead. Got it. Moving on.

BUT.

When I opened my book to check out the opening chapters, per the assignment, CRAP! (That was very unprofessional, but I don’t think you’ll blame me.) The bookstore mailed me the wrong book. Not only that, ladies and germs, but the bookstore in question actually advertised the wrong book with the course (it was the only option to check, and it was WRONG).

Okay, I’m doing a lot of yelling in this post, but it’s 11:30pm and at this point in the evening my expectation is to keep my date with John Stewart where he tells me funny things and I fall asleep somewhere during the interview. I missed the essential Weiner discussion and the Palin historical notes section. Not. Happy.

I have sent an email to my prof and tomorrow will be an adventure in high annoyance with someone in textbook sales.