My personal knowledge and skills in digital learning and leading is sufficient and strengthening with each day. I have had a long history with technology and tying it in with my new profession, education, is no surprise. Even with a rich history in using technology, it is essential for me to learn new skills and information about the digital learning and leading field so that I may have a successful career in leadership and education. In this reflection, I will assess my knowledge and skill in digital learning and leading and discuss implications for my future as a leader in education.
I have always had a rich fascination with technology. As a child I can remember taking apart electronics trying to figure out how they worked, building an AM/FM radio as a Boy Scout, and looking over my father’s shoulder as he tinkered with his home theater and other electronics. As a teenager I progressed to installing car audio equipment and began my first true love, audio engineering. I fell in love with audio engineering, the moment I stepped into a recording studio. I was fascinated with the art of mixing and the complex machines and wire paths used to create a unique audio recording. It was this love that continued my education in technology to the next level.
In the fall of 2005 I decided to chase a dream and began taking college courses in San Jacinto College’s Audio Engineering Program. This program was quintessential to building me up as a lifelong digital learner and leader because it: advanced my computer skills and understanding of computers, allowed me to work with and learn new pieces of hardware and software, understand the basics of signal flow and electricity, and understand the crossover of analog to digital conversion. Some of the specific skills I acquired through my education are: Recording, mixing, and editing using Avid’s ProTools; installing, using, and troubleshooting hardware and software, using and understanding the similarities and differences of Macs and PC’s, experience using and submitting work through BlackBoard, creating from scratch a digital multimeter (electronic signal tester), and programming a 64-channel analog mixing board (required the use of a floppy disk haha!). During my time at San Jac I also was elected president of the Music Entertainment Organization which was responsible for recording all school events, mixing and editing school performances, advertising and selling the recordings, and training new members how to do all of these. My time as President gave me experience leading others and showed me I was capable of leading and changing an organization for the better. Overall, the Associate of Applied Science degree I went on to earn in audio engineering at San Jacinto College did a great job teaching me hands on experience with new technologies and inspired me to want to learn more.
After being charged with excitement for technology, in 2009 I knew I had to continue my love for technology as I pursued my Bachelor of Arts degree in History at the University of Houston Clear Lake. As I challenged my cognitive abilities by taking history courses, I decided to continue my love for technology by taking electives in video arts production and education classes that featured elements of technology. These courses added to my digital learning and leading portfolio in several ways: I was able to see and experience a connection between technology and education; I became very efficient using Microsoft Suite; I gained experience using Google Apps for the first time; I learned techniques to shoot and edit video; I learned how to use iMovie for educational purposes; I gained experience giving presentations using advanced PowerPoint techniques. All in all, my time at the University of Houston Clear Lake was influential in that it tied my love of technology to education showing me how the two could be interconnected.
From college I went on to gain professional experience in education and technology that contributed greatly to my perception of what digital learning and leading is and created avenues for how I could contribute to advancing the field. My first job as an educator came in 2014 when I was hired as an 8th grade social studies teacher and was introduced to the most influential people in shaping my career, Justin Tucker (social studies specialist, curriculum leader, visionary) Jeff Liwag (technology guru and au courant, comedic relief) and Mitch Long (Avid wizard, creative mind, digital designer). Together, we made a great team and I was able to learn a lot about teaching, technology, and design by being their guinea pig. Our progressive work made a lasting impact on Galveston ISD by advancing district philosophies on educational technology, creating and organizing teaching resources for all social studies levels, and by increasing collaboration practices among teachers and administrators using Google Apps. Our time together culminated in the spring of 2016 when we presented our work to a very large audience at the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) and we were left with a standing ovation.
During my time with this great group of learners I learned many concepts, however, none could be more important to my knowledge and skills as a digital learner and leader than to have been given a foundation to build upon: I had observed, experienced, led, and fought for a shift in education. Through my experience I learned to recognize the skills students require in the 21st century, discovered how to fill the gaps of these student needs, and pushed to lead an organizational change to help meet 21st century needs. As our group led this change, I was able to collaborate and apply a creative perspective on how education could be enhanced through new and different technologies (such as G Suite (formerly Google Apps), Google Classroom, Kahoot!, Edmodo, Powtoon, Glogster, Prezi, Touchcast, Aurasma, and blogging). As we expanded our teaching methods through technology, we began to understand technology illiteracy in adults and students and how to go about changing user mindset and abilities. These core concepts sharpened my focus on higher education and helped inspire me to become a lifelong advocate for digital learning and leading.
Ultimately, it was my time in Galveston that inspired me to continue my education in digital learning and leading, and so, I set off to pursue a Master of Education degree from Lamar University. Through the pursuit of this degree I have added two important assets to my knowledge and skills in digital learning and leading. My first contribution came in February 2017 when I earned the title of Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE). This course came in the form of an online, self-paced course created by Microsoft. Through this course I was introduced to the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers which served to affirm of my foundational beliefs and give me a framework for which to start from. Some of the important overarching concepts of the course were: understanding technology and how best to use it, the benefits of collaboration in the 21st Century, and understanding best teaching practices. Another tool that has impacted my digital learning and leading is the ePortfolio. By discovering the ePortfolio I was able to discover learning communities that will support and help my overall goal of advancing education through the use of technology and leading organizational change.
In conclusion, of the many experiences I have acquired I feel I am only sufficient in my knowledge and skills as a digital learner and leader because I feel I am not yet capable of leading great organizational change. While I have a moderate understanding of educational technology theories and practices, I know challenges will arise and I want to be better prepared to face these challenges. As I pursue higher education and become more involved with digital learning communities, I will gain new knowledge to advance my problem solving abilities and develop a framework to lead effective organizational changes. As I gain knowledge and experience leading organizational change, I will look to become more efficient and effective in leading organizational changes. This is the level of digital learning and leading for which I desire to be, capable of leading a multitude of organizations to great heights through effective and efficient digital learning methods.
Wilkerson, Sarah & Amcarlon 2014. Reflection image. Found at http://www.clickinmoms.com/blog/creativity-exercise-mirror-mirror-creative-reflections/ Accessed 3/28/2017.