As Ryan, Erin, and I have developed our learning ePortfolio initiative for Owen J. Roberts High School, we continue to visit and revisit every step of the way. The Digital Learning and Leading courses specifically have opened our eyes to effective professional learning, research across the globe, and resources that can help guide us toward success. We have also learned how to effectively lead and initiate change within our school. Based on all of this, we have adjusted our plan and proposal appropriately so that it now includes all teachers implementing learning ePortfolios in their classrooms instead of running an ePortfolio course in which only a few teachers would participate.
We have also adjusted our professional development methods. Originally we created materials on our personal ePortfolios for the professional learning sessions based on a more effective kind of professional learning. These are meant to help our colleagues develop their own ePortfolios and discover how they can improve their individual learning environments. We then created three in-depth courses based on these sessions in Schoology. Course 1 is an introduction to ePortfolios, course 2 provides teachers time for practice and application of ePortfolios, and course 3 focuses on troubleshooting and planning. To access these courses our colleagues would simply need a Schoology account (which we already have through our district), and the access codes. All three of these courses are centered around the COVA ideals and what we learned about effective professional learning.
Despite many major adjustments, much of our plan is still applicable. The promotional video we created will still help teachers and administration see the purpose behind our plan. Our first literature review then provides our audience with current technology trends and how they support ePortfolio use, while the 4DX Strategy Plan will help us jump-start the initiative and follow the newly updated ePortfolio Timeline.
Additionally, with the use of various resources documenting case studies from across the world, we created a presentation that highlights what worked, what did not work, and how that information applies to our initiative. We also compiled that information with additional sources to create our second literature review, which delves deeper into the reasoning behind the new initiative and implementation plan we have chosen. Both of these assets strengthen our purpose and the importance of including learning ePortfolios at Owen J. Roberts High School. They will be used throughout our implementation, and these adjustments were made based on what we have recently learned, which has helped us develop the following areas of focus for future goals:
- Clear vision and support from stakeholders for the ePortfolio initiative
- Blended learning and redesigned learning spaces
- Student skills in using multiple devices in and out of school
- Strong IT infrastructure and support
- Adequate resources for ALL students
- Proper teacher training and pedagogical shifts
- Continual support from new research
All of this information has helped us redesign our original plan so that it is justified and will lead to more success for teachers and students. Our ultimate goal of empowering students to become life-long, independent learners remains intact, and our chances of achieving that goal are that much better with these new developments.
Looking back on the entire process, I still cannot believe how far we have come with this disruptive innovation plan. In the very beginning, from the second we were introduced to WordPress and the possibilities of ePortfolios, we knew we wanted to incorporate them at Owen J. Roberts. This initial concept has now become so complex and planned out. We began by addressing the need for learning ePortfolios and were sure to focus on research along with why we all became teachers to begin with: how this change will help our students. From there we created promotional videos, research papers, presentations, and courses to help our teachers prepare for proper and effective implementation. Every stage of this process has required reflection and revision, and I am positive that these necessary steps will continue even after implementation. At this point we have everything we need to submit our idea and begin professional development in August. We plan to do this and from there follow the timeline.
This learning process has been incredible. Not only have I learned about how to effectively develop and run professional learning sessions, but I have discovered the type of learner I want to be. I now know how to learn based on the growth mindset and also know how to encourage this type of learning in my classroom. What worked really well for me was collaborating with others and the fact that everything was student-centered. The collaboration helped me step outside my comfort zone and depend on others. Without this, our plan never would have developed into what it is. Because everything was student-centered, I could complete work throughout the whirlwind of my life, and everything I completed was also relevant to my life and my classroom.
In retrospect, I definitely could have done some things better. If I were to repeat this process I would try to devote more time to reviewing the materials. As we all know, life happens at a ridiculously fast pace, and I struggled to concentrate on the information as much as I would have liked to. There is so much great information out there to help support our plan. I also would have spent more time on the presentations and videos. We had many opportunities to revise and improve our research papers, but we really only worked on each media product once. I wish I would have been able to devote more time to those. I truly feel that the only other thing I could have done better to have developed a better plan is accept the concept of COVA and self-directed learning sooner. It is clear that the most powerful way to learn is by using these models, and if I had not fought the approach for the first few courses I could have begun my learning process sooner.
During the August in-service days we will introduce and promote our ePortfolio initiative. We will start with the promotional video that we created and then continue with our proposal and sharing our own ePortfolios and those our students created. Since an important step when trying to get others to make a change is to appeal to the heart, we will focus on that and really show how learning ePortfolios will benefit students and create a classroom that produces students with growth mindsets. All of this will be done through a variety of tools including large-group presentations, videos, interactive department activities, and research. These all display how much I have learned about implementing change, and when I attack an innovation project again I will take the same steps. I would take my time to fully plan out the proposal, create connections with all stakeholders, provide evidence that supports the change, develop student-friendly professional learning courses, and remember that reflection and revision must occur for the change to be successful. So often people try to make change occur quickly instead of doing it well. That is one of the most important things I have taken away from this experience: change takes time if I want it to last.