REFLECTION LETTER

To the Educational Technology Faculty:

I have been interested and involved with technology for a number of years. Having always been eager to learn new things I was at the forefront into the use of new technologies in sales, education and other areas that I have worked in. I have always striven to succeed and rise to the top of my profession. Consistently excelling I have received recognition through career advancement, various accolades and many awards. Maintaining a sincere desire to further my education and skills I have successfully completed many training sessions, education workshops, and earned numerous certifications. Continuing on this path I am currently pursuing a master’s program of study in Educational Technology along with an E-Learning Certificate and looking forward to implementing new ideas and effective solutions in all my future endeavors.

I have always had an affinity for what those in the field refer to as “instructional media”; the computers, DVD’s and mobile devices commonly used to deliver the “instruction” that has been “designed.” I have seen the capabilities in capacity, storage and accessibility increase a thousand-fold over the years. I can recall being extremely enthusiastic when I received a compact disc with a “multimedia” encyclopedia burned onto it. I demonstrated this product to teachers and librarians who were equally thrilled and impressed. There was a short portion of a small pixelated black and white video of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the disc that I frequently showed to potential buyers. It was impressive at the time!

Today the potential is to provide access to MOOC’s, vast libraries of information, books, videos and more that is all indexed, available and searchable within seconds. I believe that what I learn in my program of study can help me contribute to this incredible field that is forever growing and adapting to the latest technologies of our time.
Soon after undertaking this endeavor, I discovered that the adage, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”, (also known as Murphy’s Law) can also play very well into Moore’s Law, or the empirical observation that the complexity of integrated circuits doubled every two years. Certain websites referenced in textbooks were gone; the virtual reality world of Second Life had been deserted in some places, hacked in others and if you frequented certain cities you might be subjected to trolling. Updating your Java was required for some projects to play and unblocking your Anti-Virus Protection in order for some sites to work correctly. I discovered that prices had significantly rose for some products, or dropped down for others. Some products were almost obsolete, and change happened fast.

Despite the aforementioned drawbacks, it was fun to exchange ideas, plans and observations with students not only from my town, but from all around Texas, the nation and even some students from various locations around the globe. I believe that in most graduate programs you can go through the experience with many students with similar interests and educational backgrounds, but I did not. While primarily educators, I had the pleasure of collaborating with a tax specialist, physician’s assistant, barista, soldier, facilitators, administrators, technology specialists and many others. These perspectives were so diverse, and enlightening as well as educational. In retrospect the entire program of study seems to have gone by so fast, and it was fun! I was introduced to so many new things, worked collaboratively on Adobe Flash designs, websites, wikis, slideshows, movies, learning modules, and so much more. Independently, I wrote quite a few research papers, read about two dozen books, hundreds of journal articles, and designed slideshows, moves, presentations and quite a number of e-learning modules.

Reflecting on my experience from my current perspective, I would tell my former self to “Jump right in, unafraid!” In all honesty, I think I should have been more willing to make mistakes, learn from these gaffes and carry on. My previous knowledge of technology had made me a bit nervous, because I knew that a lot of people did not make their back-ups, sometimes your computer gets a virus that destroys the operating system, computers crash, and you can lose your work. Small errors in the code are sometimes so hard to find, but that process can lead you to meaningful solutions. One evening before class, the students were talking and comparing notes, and it seemed many of us did the same things. We saved screen shots, printed hard copies (despite the forests) and saved our work not only on the hard drive, but to the cloud as well. We laughed at how overly cautious we all were, but lamented about previous experiences where we had to start all over. If I knew that most of that would be for naught, and that the one time I did not duplicate my efforts would be the time I had to start all over from the beginning, I would have spent more time working on my research and projects and less time being so careful.
In this field, you have to accept the fact that resources are going to change rapidly. The newer versions are probably a lot better than the previous, and we need to learn and move on to accept these changes before the crowd. As the go-to person and technology guru for most schools, businesses and organizations, we have to gamble on the updates and learn about them before anyone else, so we can guide those that come after us. Even though I can look back at a project from that first semester and think of so many ways to make it better now, I have to accept that a project is temporary, and you have to let go. One professor kept emphasizing that point, and I guess I did not really want to accept that fact. I kept wanting to go back and add elements, or make changes from the new things I had learned along the way. I believe I even went so far as to lament, “Why didn’t you teach me this before!”

One project that I have come back to is this e-portfolio, hosted in WordPress. This project and experience in and of itself has been educational and exemplifies my point, to say the least. When I began the process, WordPress primarily hosted only blogs and since then it has grown by leaps and bounds, and it has been updated and added so many more features, templates, widgets, themes, plugins, and more. I plan on taking this enlightening experience and knowledge with me to my next chapter in my life and career in so many ways. My strategy going forward is to take those miscalculations and blunders and try my best to avoid them in the future, or if I find them unavoidable then to utilize them as the inevitable learning experience. My hope is to package the entirety of my new found skills and knowledge and utilize them in developing forward thinking tools and e-learning technology for the latest generation of students, employees and consumers wherever I may go. I like and appreciate the idea of content curation for the technology found in a globally connected classroom/school/business. The idea of utilizing web tools, like Skype or Google Hangouts to connect experts from around the world to collaborate, communicate, or simply connect to a classroom or office is intriguing and exciting to me. The connected classroom that can best utilize the technology available in an educational, informative and truly beneficial manner is available with these tools, and content curation could filter the information overload or unwanted items in an educational setting. I sincerely enjoy all that I have learned and do, so I hope to continue to be able to take my talents where I can use them daily, as I continue to learn and explore what technology can do best in education.

Thank you for your time, guidance, recommendations, and advice.

Sincerely,

Marie Dennany Lara