Digital Learning and Leading Synthesis Presentation
The journey through the DLL program has been an amazing experience for me. In the past eighteen months, I have experienced authentic learning and have been given the tools to help bring it to my own students. I created and launched an innovation plan to bring blended learning into my classroom and eventually to my campus and district. The presentation below gives a glimpse at each of the courses in the DLL program as well as links to my work. Simply press the green title buttons to navigate through the slides.
Podcast DLL Reflection
Check out my final thoughts on my DLL journey in my latest podcast episode below.
The Digital Learning and Leading (DLL) program at Lamar University was my first introduction to COVA and CSLE. In my first class in the program, Disruptive Innovation, our assignments and projects did not have explicit instructions for how to complete them and though we had been given basic guidelines and examples, our final products were up to us. This was different from the way I was used to learning. In my experience prior to the DLL program, there were clear expectations of exactly what the work should look like and how it should be presented. My initial reaction to the COVA approach to learning was confusion and apprehension. I had many questions and most involved me wanting those detailed instructions about what type of work I needed to produce to do well in the course. I was anxious to do well, but had no idea what doing well looked like.
We had the freedom to choose the path that our learning would take us on. In the disruptive innovation course we were given the task of creating an innovation plan for our organizations. The plan and direction it would take was entirely up to us. We were given support in the form of books, articles, and videos as well as examples of work from past DLL students. The freedom I now had to create and learn in a way that was meaningful to me was overwhelming at first. I had to learn to look to my innovation plan as my guide. I also had to consider the stakeholders for my innovation plan. These stakeholders would be the people in my organization that would be involved in my innovation plan. There was a shift in my thinking from “What does the professor want?” to “What do I need to do to bring my innovation to life?”. The shift in who I was doing the work for made a huge difference in my mindset. The work I did for my classes was related to my innovation and became personal to me. I developed a sense of pride for my work that extended far beyond a letter grade and I was driven to do my best on everything because it was all becoming part of a bigger picture. Another example of authentic learning came from the development of my ePortfolio/website. It was entirely up to me how I set up my ePortfolio including which platform to use. This was a scary and exciting experience for me. I failed with the first platform I tried, which was Wix. It was difficult for me to use and I had to make a choice on abandoning it as a potential platform. I tried Weebly, and though it was not as highly recommended it was perfect for me. I gained confidence as I began creating pages on my site. Tinkering with the site and finding tutorials on YouTube for what I wanted to create became my primary ways of learning and creating. From the humble beginning to what it has become, I am honestly very proud of the work I put into my ePortfolio.
As I near the completion of the DLL program at Lamar University, I have found that learning through the COVA approach and CSLE have helped me understand all of my coursework on a deeper level. I have been given opportunities for authentic learning experiences and have created and launched an innovation plan. I have taken ownership of my work which is personal to me and specific to the needs of my organization. The ePortfolio I created showcases my work in the DLL program and is where my thoughts and philosophies as a learner and educator live. If the DLL program had been designed using the traditional method of lectures and projects with detailed expectations, I do not think my learning experience would have been as rich or authentic as it has been. Knowing the benefits of learning using COVA and CSLE, I am working to bring this to my own students. In one of my courses, Learning Environments, I was given tools to help me bring COVA to my classroom and create significant learning environments for my students. Even before this course I had realized that something needed to change in the way that I was teaching. I was using a traditional model to teach sixth grade social studies including lectures with students taking notes. My students were passive participants in the learning and only a few of them truly understood what I was teaching. Once I began the course on creating learning environments, I saw that with changes to the way I designed my lessons, I could reach more of my students and create activities to get them actively involved in their learning. First, I used the three column table and UbD backwards design models to revamp my first social studies unit. I was able to add in activities that offered my students choices in how they learned. My newly revamped unit would not be used until the beginning of the 2021-22 school year and I wanted my students to get a taste of COVA before that. The last unit I taught in spring of 2021 was the perfect place to try out a lesson that gave my students choice, ownership, voice and authenticity. There was no district assessment tied to this unit and that gave me the freedom to assess my students' learning in other ways. I created a research project for my students and gave general parameters for the work they would do. Students had some choice in what they researched and were pointed to resources to help them complete the research. At the sixth grade level, I could give them some freedom, while still guiding them toward the outcomes I was wanting for them. Research is a new concept for most sixth graders so I gave them websites to use for research that I had vetted ahead of time. Two things that surprised me with this project was the dedication I saw in many of my students while completing this. The second was the pride they had in their finished projects. Their posters were on display in the hallways and many pointed out their work to other teachers and students. This was the point where I saw the benefits of using COVA and CSLE with my students. I began the 2021-2022 school year with my revamped first unit and as I outlined in my innovation plan, I slowly added in stations in my class two times per week. The stations have evolved over time to meet the needs of my learners and now include flipped lessons. I discovered that the addition of short video lessons in my stations helped solidify concepts like reading economic indicator charts and using coordinates to find locations on a map. I went on to share my work on flipped lessons in stations in an article that was published in Edutopia, and will be presenting on the topic at an innovation summit next month. The biggest takeaways for me in adding COVA and CSLE into my classroom have been the effects that choice in learning have had on my students. The days that my students work on stations are self-paced. They have learned to work on their own without worry that they will not finish in time. They are focused on completing their own tasks, rather than worrying about what others around them are doing. I have added in mastery based activities for things like quizzes and reviewing content, and have noticed that students will continue to work through these until they are successful. They have a much better understanding of what I am teaching than ever before. I attribute this to the choices they have in how they are learning. The addition of COVA and CSLE in my classroom is not perfect, nor do I feel like I am done with the work of changing my classroom. The triumphs I have seen in my students’ learning will continue to drive me forward and I will continue to add elements of COVA and create SLEs in my classroom. I have made progress and though I face the challenges that come with teaching in an environment where the curriculum and assessments are still largely based on the industrial model, I will continue to add elements of COVA to benefit my students.
Harapnuik, D. (2018). It's About Learning: COVA. Harapnuik.org. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.harapnuik.org/? page_id=6991
Harapnuik, D. (2018). It's About Learning: CSLE. Harapnuik.org. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.harapnuik.org/? page_id=849
Stangl, C. (2021, December 15). 5 tips for incorporating video lessons in learning stations. Edutopia. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-tips-incorporating-video-lessons-learning-stations