About Me Page
I am taking a new approach to the learning log because in 513 we are asked to establish one. I have to admit, I did not initially choose WordPress to be my website of choice for constructing websites, but I am coming to learn that being proficient in WordPress know-how may be profitable at some point. Who knows? I may even fix up what I had posted up to now and make each course its own page. Perhaps that is something they have us do when we make our portfolio.
Alas, the About Me Page- who am I and why am I getting a degree in Educational Technology. I guess I’ve refrained from elaborating on how I got into the EDTECH mode. I was shy at first about my situation and would like to be thought of as more than just that chick who has MS and too much time on her hands. Turns out my body is a piece of junk and even though I do some stuff to overcome the MS, it still has the upper hand. If I do anything to excess, it sneaks in and makes me dizzy, gives me vertigo, causes my vision to go gray, or do some other stupid thing to my body. My first symptom from Multiple Sclerosis happened when I was 20, but I did not learn I have MS until I was 28. At 28 I was already into sort-of my second career: teaching.
I was working at Tennyson High School in Hayward, CA. That school was like a second home to me. Literally. I was there until 7 pm most nights and often at least 1 day on the weekend. The principal gave me the freedom to pursue what it would take to start a biotech class and in 1998, the day after I learned I have MS, I found out from the district that they were giving me start up funds for the class. I lasted 5 more years in the classroom.
I retired the first time on disability because I had gotten to the point where the fatigue was interrupting my ability to teach too much. I stopped being able to go in on weekends because I was asleep for the entire weekend. That part I could tolerate, but new symptoms did not stop showing up. In May 2004 (I need to look it up to know for sure) a lesion started around C5 which made my right arm numb. Even with this, I was planning to continue to work part-time because I’m used to ignoring exacerbations unless it is double vision. Double vision I have to pay attention to because there is no way I’m driving when I can’t get my eyes to focus. Anyway, this numbness in my right arm then moved down to my right leg. No biggie, I’m used to symptoms spreading out and it was staying on the right side so there was no big worry. Well, in August my left side started to go numb and that was enough to scare me. Looking back, was I being too much of a wimp?
So in 2004 I left working in classrooms with tables and chairs. I did some minor employment things for the next couple years and in 2007 convinced myself I was OK to go back in the classroom, part-time. Starting in Dec 2009, I was dizzy and had vertigo. It continued and in March 2010 I made the executive decision to leave the classroom again. By that time I was using a rollator to help me walk. That started in 2008 and I managed almost 2 years with commuting with the rollator. Well, when I could drive it was not so bad. When the dizziness started in late 2009, I stopped driving. I was commuting on public transit to San Francisco three days a week.
I left the classroom with tables and chairs for the last time in 2010. I was hoping to get a part-time position as an independent study science teacher more recently, but I was not chosen so I’m still out of the way of furniture. Starting summer 2010, I took classes online so that I could become certified as an online teacher. Fortunately I am a CA resident so there are over 100 community colleges that offer courses at a reasonable price. I found one that was offering courses in online teaching and enrolled immediately.
I love the classes Alexis Alexander creates. She is one of the instructors at Merritt Community College in Oakland, CA. Since I live within public transit of Oakland, I did go to her orientation class, but otherwise never interacted with Alexis in person until I met her again last summer. I managed to take 6 classes from her, earned the certificate, which I think may only really be recognized within the CA community college arena, and loved every minute of it. She taught me more about how to teach online in those 6 classes than I’ve had at BSU. Sorry, but if you’re wondering why I always seem to have a chip on my shoulder, it is because I learned more about how to organize online curriculum and how to reach students and run discussion forums from Alexis’s classes that cost almost $100 each than I have in my $1400 courses.
Alexis’s courses and a brief interlude with teaching online convinced me to seek a real degree in online something. I did some research and took a couple classes online. I did San Diego State’s Instructional Technology pre-requisite course and BSU’s 597 Edutainment class at the same time in spring 2011. I don’t remember if I was doing other classes at the same time or not. I applied to BSU because I thought its program had more promise than SDSU’s. Oddly, one of the main things that turned me off from SDSU was the discussion forums not being a forum. You see, Alexis had us thoroughly engaged with Moodle. We had been creating assignments in Moodle in all of her classes. I was a Moodle hound and loved how online teachers can create an environment that is its own place where students can go to just be students in a specific class for a semester. SDSU was in some other environment, I don’t think it was Blackboard, but whatever it was, our professor did not want to do discussion groups in the forum type of structure. She wanted to do a listserv. That was a disaster. Absolutely horrible. I mean how antiquated can you be? Do a listserv to maintain academic discussions? I mean by that time I was even dabbling in creating Google groups to archive NSTA emails- she could not even create a Google Group for us to have a place to chat. There was no way that place was getting my money. I was already pisssed off that I paid over $1000 to learn how to make websites based on templates. I’ve been using Dreamweaver ever since Studio 8 or MX, whichever was first. I wanted to learn how to maneuver in Dreamweaver, not adopt other people’s ideas as if they were mine.
So even though the Edutainment class asked me to do some assignments like Alexis had us do, I was not convinced BSU’s EDTECH program was the place for me to be. I did not find the course to be warm, well organized, or inviting. I felt like I understood some of the technology better than my professor and continuously was confused about what was expected of me. I’ve come to learn, this is pretty much normal for some of my classes and have gotten used to the feeling. I am ticked off that they won’t hire me to be a GA when I know I can be at least organizing some of the courses better than my professors are. Last semester I had a GA for a class who did nothing other than a websearch for links I already knew about because of Alexis’s classes. She was also in one of my classes and never turned in her work on-time nor at a level I would expect for someone BSU chose as a GA. That pretty much broke my fantasy of continuing with BSU for longer than I absolutely have to. There is no way I can compete with incompetence.
So why am I getting a degree in Educational Technology? The brief 2 month experience with the online teaching company taught me how poorly online programs can be organized for high school chemistry students. I can’t mention the company I worked for because they would sue my estate, but they are nationwide and are making it very difficult to get a job with many companies because they keep buying the other, smaller, companies. I chose Boise State, in part, because I want to create interactive chemistry lessons for high school students. I especially want to work with credit-recovery students because those are the types of kids I love working with. I like the college bound kids, too, but the ones who struggle are the ones for whom I went into teaching. I love the idea of creating games so students will be tricked into learning.
There were two main classes offered at BSU that got me excited, one being courses on creating games for k12 classrooms and the other one being the course I am in now, multimedia. I took the course on creating gmaes for K12 classes last semester and because of that class, I am frustrated that I don’t know more about what can really happen for creating games for students in K12 subjects. I have no clue if this multimedia class is going to disappoint me or not. So far it is starting off slowly which has me scared. I am afraid all of the hard work is going to slam us in a couple months. Instead of preparing for that moment, though, I’m using my “free time” to do some enrichment.
I’ve been trying for nearly 2 years to get hired as a virtual science teacher. I have a credential in 13 states for biology, chemistry, and/or science. The designation depends on how the state does their credentialing. I’m also a National Board Certified Teacher in science. So yep, I’m thinking I’m a good option for a company who wants someone to teach their students from multiple states. At the moment, I have one school district seriously interested in using me and that training starts tomorrow. I am very excited and got a credential in that state with the hope of being hired by this district. Based on my interview with them, I will be a perfect fit for their team. I love Moodling, using web2.0 software in assignments, using some of the really awesome science interactive websites, and want to be on the cutting edge of virtual classrooms.
There are two more things I’m doing in my “free” time: 1. Taking math courses so that I can take the Praxis and the CSET tests to get certificated in math. I currently work for a company where I get to tutor adults in math. I need a math credential before they will let me work with adults in the higher level courses. I am also thinking a credential in math will make me more appealing to future employers. 2. The other thing I’m doing is commuting to San Francisco to audit Dr. David Wolber’s App Inventor course. I did the 3dGameLab last summer and did the App Inventor quest strand. At that time I learned that there is a leader in the field a mere 10 miles or so from where I live. I emailed Dr. Wolber and have been sitting in his class for the last couple weeks. I’ve already made 3 apps, the last one I need to finish off tonight to post my code and the app for others to enjoy. I won’t be getting credit for his course, but I also won’t have to be paying the multiple thousands of dollars to take his class either. Here I thought I should be getting more for the $1400 I pay per course at BSU. I guess in a way, I am getting what I pay for, although nothing beats Alexis’s $100 courses.