A reflection on learning new skills and making connections with other courses

This week I hosted the class twitter session (my first time doing this in a course!) and I was relieved that it went well; I looked over the reflection blogs of my peers and came up with questions that could guide our discussion.  The previous week’s chatting session went well because there was time and interest in reflection on our research topics, asking questions about assignments, and sharing resources or ideas with others, so I made sure to incorporate similar questions and prompts.  I had been reading a lot over the previous week and had many articles that were related but not appropriate for my research; from the twitter chat, Stephanie had shared that a student was writing a persuasive argument advocating for MinecraftEdu, so I was able to pass on some articles and resources that could be useful in her essay.  My research is focused on strategies for effective student interactions within MinecraftEdu, and this was a good reminder that while MinecraftEdu is an exciting new tool for teachers, there is still a lot of resistance and opposition to gaming in education on many levels.

Reading other blogs this week, helped me to frame themes in my research; there were a lot of themes and I really tried to focus on the overarching themes rather than the specific methods or research details from each study.  The most relevant themes for my research were theories that inform game design and mechanics, construction of learning, and student interactions with content, peers, and teachers.  I noticed that some of my peers had also added their research topics to our collective list and there seems to be some connections with my research and the other topics that incorporate technology and motivation for learning.  I hope that my blog this week and thematic review will also help my peers to identify patterns and themes that are related to their own research.

At this point in my research, I’m still feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information that I am discovering.  I am learning to sift and focus in order to get what I need in the context of my research topic.  These initial stages of research have been helpful in narrowing the focus of my topic and helping me get an idea for how it would  be implemented in a few weeks.  Writing my thematic review has been hard because I want to stay focused on the themes I have chosen but feel there is much background information and context to provide.  Reviewing the resources provided on the course website and reading sample thematic reviews helped me to determine the purpose and organization of my own thematic review.  While this process of researching, reading, and writing my thematic review has been difficult (mostly because I’m learning about the process as I’m researching my topic), it has given me new insights into virtual learning environments and expanding my pedagogical knowledge around teaching through and with technology.  I also am seeing many connections between the three courses I am taking this semester (classroom research, differentiation with technology, and online teaching and learning) and I’m excited that my research will inform my unit plan designs and learning in the other courses.

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