Class: ISLT 7360: Introduction to Web Design

Date Taken: Spring 2015

Course Description:

Basic web design and HTML. Covers file transfer and UNIX/LINUX servers management. Develops understanding of web graphic formats. Emphasizes user interface, navigation, and instructional design in building web sites.

Reflection:

After nearly 8 years away from formal education, I knew that my first foray back into proper academics was going to be a challenge. I had to balance a forty hour work week, my social life, and everything else against the expectations of academics. In addition, while I was no stranger to HTML code, having learned the XHTML 4 coding way back in 2003 as part of my final year of high school, I knew that this would likely be a new experience to adjust to as well.

Perhaps my greatest challenge here was actually getting use to the idea of an online class. My entire academic career before this class had only been in-person classes, with only limited elements online. I still took notes by hand, did most of my research out of journals for both of my majors, with online database as supplements. Learning completely online without classmate interaction or talking to a professor in person was going to be different.

In all honesty, I’m glad I had the previous experience with web code to fall back on. I can’t imagine being a complete novice to coding and approaching this course without dozens of extra hours to learn the basics. The previous experience gave me a base to work on, but there were times it was both a large help and a large hindrance to my learning. I approached the assignments with much of my former coding in my mind, only to find that elements that I had counted on in the past didn’t meet modern standards of coding. In the end, relearning what I had already learned actually helped me to learn to streamline my code.

This has helped my career considerably, as it’s allowed me to keep in mind how I could teach in the future online, how I could develop my own custom coding towards any learning management system I would help maintain and implement for my career.

Artifact: Final Site: Freelance Chocolate

This is the website I created with my coding skills based on one of my favorite hobbies of chocolate tasting.


Class: ISLT 7361: Intro to Digital Media

Date Taken: Summer 2015

Course Description:

Hands-on approach to multimedia production techniques. Develops understanding of image software, video software, scanners, digital cameras, digital video cameras, and graphics tablets.

Reflection:

Just like with the Intro to Design Web class, I had a background in producing Digital Media. I started running a podcast in the year before I started my Master's degree, and during my Bachelor's, I had graphic design classes, including learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. After having finished one class, I felt considerably more confident in my skills and happy to spend a class working on media. I would also have to learn to do a class in eight weeks, as opposed to sixteen and so my need for discipline would need to be more intense.

The most critical thing I learned here was how to implement media into my web design well. While I had done some media implementation as part of Intro to Web Design, this class really taught me on how to put audio and video into the web page to make them work for multiple browsers and resolutions. This was especially true with approaching file types and finding the best ones for cross-platform technology. While it’s true that the five browsers operate very similarly these days, there are subtle differences in how they display and function with media types.

Artifact: Photoshop Assignment

This was my Photoshop assignment; where I had to take three images and combine them into one, while documenting the processes done for image editing.


Class: ISLT 7370: Intermediate Web Development

Date Taken: Fall 2015

Course Description:

Couse Description: Development of design and web authoring skills. Interactivity through use of cgi scripts and JavaScript. Design capabilities using Style Sheets. Gain expertise required for the production of HTML documents incorporating these advanced techniques

Reflection:

Now fully warmed back up into my academics and used to the shorter 8 week schedule of classes, I was definitely more disciplined and ready to hit the ground running with two classes at once instead of just one at time. The tool set I had exposure to here expanded to include use of Adobe Dreamweaver, and while I still prefer to code in the text editor Notepad++, Dreamweaver helped me design the layout considerably, especially as one of the parts of our assignment was to consider mobile browsers.

This class fully immersed me in the design aspect of Web Coding, and I took great care to design a site that reflected some of my own personality, as well as one that I could use as a design template for future professional sites that I could build. As to my teaching abilities, while I did not teach website directly in my day job, I could unofficially tutor those in web design classes when I was working at CBC High School.

Artifact: Final Site: Re-animated Pixels

This site was definitely a lot of fun to work with, and my re-introduction to JavaScript really let me explore and experiment in what I could do. Using AJAX page recall technology, and coding a version of the classic game “Pong” into my page really made it feel fun to design.


Class: ISLT 9475: Diffusion of Education Innovation

Date Taken: Fall 2015

Course Description:

Couse Description: In-depth analysis of innovation development and adoption processes in educational organizations, including schools, universities, and training centers.

Reflection:

This was my first 9000 level class, and I had to say I was genuinely nervous. While the other classes I had taken so far were admittedly more review than new ground, this would be the first time I was exposed to new concepts that I had never been academically or practically trained in as part of my career. I remember opening the syllabus with some trepidation at what I was about to face, because at the same time this was going on, I was watching my sister go through her own Masters in Mizzou’s school of Nursing.

Fortunately, the class was not only eye opening in what I was able learn about new technology in classrooms and how to foment it, but also the challenge was fair and well paced for a modern professional trying to get a Master’s Degree.

The class was transformative as to how I would approach technology in my future career. I watched in my friends, family and professional colleagues and how they chose to approach new technology. After observing them, one of the points I still advocate is an addition to the sixth category to the Diffusion of Innovation theory; I believe the theory could be altered to include another group who holdout completely, absolutely refusing the technology at all.

This class taught me the right information I needed to know for how to rethink my education strategy and how I could use it to consider new approaches to my own classroom. Often when I was developing a new assignment or teaching method in my mind, I wondered how it would be received and how to best introduce it to convince students that it would be a valid use of their time.

My final project for this class was to examine how well friends and family explored the advent of tablets into their daily lives. This included Apple, Android and Kindle models and was illustrative on how well this technology or other technologies could be used.

Artifact: Concerns Based Action Model

This practical look at the dissemination of tablet computer technology among family and friends a good first action in helping me start considering how this degree could benefit me and opened me on how much I had to learn about teaching from the program.


Class: ISLT 9417: Technology Action Research

Date Taken: Spring 2016

Course Description:

Study of concepts associated with action research; and the processes and procedures for conducting action research. Culminating project is the development of an action research project.

Reflection:

Moving into the next semester, I this would be the second time I had taken one of the more advanced 9000 level classes, and I’m glad I took this one. If Diffusion of Education Innovations taught me how to teach students and colleagues alike how to adopt a given idea, this class taught me on how to approach technology in order to better assist my classroom, even if no new technology was being implemented.

While my day job was working as Tech Support for CBC High School in ST. Louis, MO, I only acted as an unofficial tutor to students in order to better assist them in their own classwork, and making sure that our technology was preforming as it should to that effect. My night class that I continue to teach even today deals with Catholic faith to 6th and 7th graders, and the technology available to me is exceedingly limited there. At best, I’m used to a whiteboard and a DVD player and TV, so I’ve had to be truly innovative in my approach without much of what some teachers take for granted.

My Action Research project relied on journal entries I had researched as well as a bit of popular culture, as I posed the question if the recent fad of adult coloring books could be used to engage students focus and preparation for a class. When my students arrive at my night class, they’re coming from a full day of regular schooling, afternoon activities and often a rushed dinner before they get to me, often not in a mindset to undergo further learning. I posed the theory based on what I had read on the calming and focusing effects of art and coloring books that employing coloring books with middle schoolers might actually have them better focused for the class ahead.

While I’m still working on implementing this full scale in my own classroom, I’m happy to see that for the most part, my theory is correct; there’s a pronounced difference in students when they have a few minutes to themselves to unwind for a few minutes

Artifact: Action Research Project

This is my proposed Action Research Project in full; I’m very proud of the research and work I put into this project.


Class: ISLT 9467: Technology to Enhance Learning

Date Taken: Spring 2016

Course Description:

Strategies for integrating technology into the teaching and learning process, with a focus on enhancing how students think rather than what they think. Special attention given to supporting higher order thinking and problem solving with technology.

Reflection:

This was my second 8 week class this semester, with Action Research being the first and like the last two classes before it, I was encountering new ground that I hadn’t really engaged in before this point. The key behind this class as I mused in my final reflection for the class was that having technology in the classroom (or a lack of it) wasn’t important – it was how that technology was applied that ultimately mattered.

Granted, I had seen some of this applied in my own student career. A solid example of this were professors who both used and abused PowerPoint to do the heavy lifting of putting notes on the board, teachers who would merely show a movie in elementary, middle or even high school because they had underprepared for class, etc.

I could also recall good examples of technology, even if the technology itself was out of date – a high school history professor who kept an LP record player in good working order to allow us listening to music of the eras he was covering. There were also some of my colleagues who were using Turnitin.com to encourage student honesty and academic integrity on papers.

While Action Research had proposed the idea of using a resource like coloring books to give students focus, it was this class who made me realize that teaching my night class with no technology readily available did not mean I had to rely on older methods to teach. I started to develop parent interaction segments by using Google Forms to allow parents to give me honest feedback on what they felt did and did not work in my class.

This was the first real time I would encounter concept maps as a regular teaching tool as well in class, and started planning to use them in my night class as well to explore deeper with complicated topics that exist in Catholic theology.

Artifact: Assessing Characteristics of Meaningful Learning Assignment

My chosen artifact is an assignment from the class, where we were assigned to finding an existing assignment made by another teacher and to review it. We looked at Active Learning, Constructive Learning, Intentional Learning, Authentic Learning and Collaborative Learning. I looked at a distracted driving lesson available on Science Net Links.


Class: ISLT 7377: Intro to Tech in Schools

Date Taken: Fall 2016

Course Description:

Study of theories and practices associated with educational technology. Explores basic instructional design processes and strategies for integrating technology into teaching and learning. Provides an overview of the EdTech filed and a survey of emerging trends.

Reflection:

This class was a collaborative overview of a number of different technologies that could be employed in the classroom, but that was not the only lesson I took away from the class. Compared to most of my classmates, I’m did not take the traditional path when it comes to teaching: I fell into the education field mostly because of the Great Recession. While I am qualified to teach religion, we’re a different type as there is no such thing as certification for religion teachers, it tends to be those with theology degrees that blunder along as we learn the craft.

Until this class, I had never heard of the ADDIE education model, even if I had been subconscious of it to some degree in my classroom. Actually working through the ADDIE model in a formal project helped me define how I could move forward with a new class I would be teaching this year and how to gage student knowledge, interest and best adapt to it.

Artifact: ADDIE Project


Class: ISLT 9471: Instructional Systems Design

Date Taken: Fall 2016

Course Description:

Development of skills and knowledge related to the systematic design of instruction. Emphasis is placed on content analysis, instructional strategies, and formative evaluation.

Reflection:

If the Technology in Schools class introduced me to concepts like ADDIE and some basic Adult Learning, this class took it to the next level. While I had some training in educational theory as part of working in education, my own communication classes and the time I had spent with the Missouri Province of Jesuits’ Alumni Service Corps Program, I had not studied much of the education theories that some of my peers had.

The class covers several different learning theories across the board, and how to approach each within a design. Much of my class was reading about these theories, and learning how much of these are applied in the modern world. In my first teaching assignment or two, I most often used the Gange’s Nine Events model, long before I knew its name or even what it was. I adopted some of the best practices that had been taught to me – establishing a common daily pattern that students could learn to expect and adapt with.

While I still rely on this method in my teaching, over the years I’m less strict about my approach and tend to let a few improvised ideas come into play now and then.

Artifact: Final ISD Project

With this class, myself and several other students worked together to make a common training program for our fellow teachers around four pieces of technology. We developed training materials based in a Weebly website, with a long term plan of implementation. We developed a plan to analyze our learners’ needs and develop both summative and formative evaluations to ensure that our learners were finding use of the technology.


Class: ISLT 7378: Electronic Portfolio Development

Date Taken: Spring 2017

Course Description:

This course focuses on the process of developing electronic portfolios to document the achievement of standards-based curriculum.

Reflection:

These past eight weeks in prepping for this portfolio have been illustrative, if nothing else. I’ve built websites in the past; several of them were artifacts for other reflections. This electronic portfolio had to not only be professional in design, but had to reflect my personal sense of design.

Looking over some of my classmates who were using the Weebly designers, I was struck by how similar much of the designs that were produced by Weebly. The sites are professional looking, but like with all Web Designer programs, they can be limited in what they will allow a designer to use. If I was to give this assignment a sense of my own personal style, I would need to code it by hand.

I actually enjoy coding to some degree, and if I’m going to find a good job with my Master’s degree, it’s likely that I’ll need to use the raw coding abilities to at least customize some of my school, my district or my company’s materials. I prefer to keep my coding skills fresh, and this portfolio let me do that and explore a few new tricks in CSS that I had been researching.

I also registered a new domain for this assignment with barronportfolio.info in order to print on business cards and to make it easier for employers to view.


Class: ISLT 9440: Learning with the Internet

Date Taken: Spring 2017

Course Description:

Explores the potential of the Internet to support inquiry-based learning through collaborative activities, research, and authoring/publishing. Investigates goals and strategies of online learning. Examines learning theories and models of teaching/learning in relation to selected Internet activities for K–12 students.

Reflection:

This was the final class as part of my program. While I had been already predisposed to understand how to learn with the Internet; but formally constructing a research plan to use with my not normally connected class was certainly a challenge.

Given this environment, I focused on the one major academic assignment that happens during my normal religion class with St. Monica's. We type up one major paper with the year on student's chosen Catholic Saint; as we started considering how to move this normally unconnected class online.

Ultimately, my proposal was going to be use the website Wikispaces, with their education options.

Artifact: Proposed Wikispaces Project

This is what my coordinator at St. Monica's and I worked out as the proposed timeline and grade rubric for the project