In this section of my E-portfolio I would like to take the time to review a reflection of my experience in this Master’s program. This reflection will focus on the learning experience and learning outcomes from the development of the projects in the artifact’s located on the Matrix page. Please feel free to visit the Matrix page if you wish to view and review these discussed projects.

While working on my Bachelor’s degree I originally planned to pursue a career in healthcare, however, after teaching a university lab course, I soon realized that I had a passion for teaching. After receiving my Bachelor of Science in Biology I received a teaching certificate while working at La Joya ISD. For the past five years I've been working as a high school science teacher, and, throughout my teaching career, have been implementing the use of technology in the classroom. After two years in the field, I was chosen to participate in La Joya ISD's Google Academy to further my knowledge of Google for Education. In this academy, I learned the basics of Google Drive, Docs, Forms, Slides, Sheets and many extensions that could be implemented. I picked up a lot of new tools that teachers could use to enhance various activities in the classroom. I was able to implement the use of these technologies with Chromebook in my classroom. I was able to gather data faster with Google Forms and have students use digital collaborating skills. Although these tasks were advancing applying them with appropriate pedagogy began to become a challenge to help my students advance their learning outcomes.

My participation in this Academy granted the opportunity to become a Campus Technologist at La Joya North Academy High School. In order to increase my knowledge of instructional technology, I decided to pursue an M.Ed. in Educational Technology. At the beginning of my program, I was able to start research on instructional design and how various theories could help to enhance my knowledge in implementing technology in my classroom. This learning experience took place during the development of the multimedia video created in my EDTC 6320 Educational Technology course. From this experience, I realized that many teachers would focus on choosing the tools they want to use in the classroom when instead, they should be looking at the lesson as a whole. Also, they should evaluate and revise technology they selected and implemented. In the future, I have learned to always analyze the learning gap, identify the best learning approach, and then select the proper technology to help me achieve the goal.

As my program progressed I was able to put these new-found realizations to practical use. In my EDTC 6321 Instructional Design course, I was given the opportunity to review a realistic learning gap in my campus and design a strategy to solve the instructional problem. I received the opportunity to review and solve problems through all the ADDIE method steps. After making the analysis that the school needed a training for credit recovery teachers I found that selecting the appropriate tools and technology were not enough. This is when the importance of evaluation came to light. There were so many tasks needed to complete the designed training that it seemed there might be some missing. To avoid any gaps in the learning I began to inquire and redesign tasks based on my co-worker’s feedback. After implementing their feedback there were many times that I returned to have them evaluate the process. Overall the training was longer than I thought, and there were some content designs that were made more complicated than needed. This has taught me the value of a second opinion and needs to have a subject matter expert or target audience individual evaluate any instructional designs developed for a learning gap.

The instructional unit created in EDTC 6321, not only provided additional learning experiences but inspired another project in my EDTC 6323 Multimedia/Hypermedia course. The instructional unit was focused on utilizing two software’s and two major documents to complete the entire training. However, after designing the instructional unit I found that the teachers on my campus needed the multimedia for the first two performance objectives to ensure student success. The first two performance objectives focused on how the learner needed to find grades and then calculate them to know how to assign coursework. Every year we would have teachers inquire how to explain this in the best way, therefore, I saw it as an opportunity to challenge what I had learned so far in my program to develop a solution. As a result, I was not only able to design this partial training into existence, but I realized my instructional skills were growing.

During the program I found myself not only growing as an instructional designer but found an intense desire to learn about new applications of technology. During the summer of 2017, I had the amazing experience of attending the ISTE 2017 Conference in San Antonio. At this conference, I found suggested texts to read, training on how to enhance the learning experience of technology in my classroom, and another world of digital learning with virtual reality. Google for Education had an Expo booth that allowed conference participants to view the possibilities of virtual reality in the classroom. At this session, I was exposed to various lessons that teachers would create by implementing virtual field trips. The world of virtual learning seemed to have no limits. It was at this time that I simultaneously studied the use of Second Life for Educational use in my EDTC 6325 course. This course not only provided an opportunity to study the virtual software but presented many opportunities to use it in relative situations. For example, Second Life was used to meet as a class, my project members and I used it for our meetings, and we explored a virtual version of the Alamo.

In EDTC 6325 I made two important realizations. The first is that Educational Technology is always expanding, there may not be a way to learn everything all at once, but in its entirety makes up many diverse opportunities to transform learning. This meant to me that designing a well-structured lesson is only three-fourths of the approach in the classroom. Because a quarter of the lesson is ensuring you keep up and engage with as much professional development to grow in your knowledge of Educational technology. And second, Google and Microsoft had a lot to offer for Education at the ISTE conference, therefore, I should dedicate myself to learning more about what they could offer me specifically with professional development.

               After this growth in these courses took place I began to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone when it came to learning technology. This led to the exploration and utilization of the New Google Sites as a web authoring platform for additional training. I also learned how to code in my EDTC 6341 course, design and 3D print an object, and explore the use and implementation of HTML coding in Google Sites. With these learning experiences, I felt comfortable utilizing all these skills to design my practicum project with Google Sites as a learning platform. Overall I have learned how to use new tools such as Padlet, for infographics, Powtoon, Screencastify, and much more.

               While studying I had the privilege to apply many of my learning experience to work as a Campus Technologist and classroom teacher. I know now and would suggest to anyone, that lessons must go beyond what needs to be comprehended for a state exam. Instead, lessons should focus on realistic applications and real-world experiences that relate to students. It is important to know your students first, develop rapport with them, and identify their interest. Then a lesson can be designed and technology can be used to enhance the learning experience. I’ve learned through many Ed Tech Blogs that technology is not a magical fix for improving learning outcomes. It is part of a larger and much more structured process. As a teacher, I have been able to use technology to create student-centered learning experiences in my classroom. And, as a Campus Technologist, I have created training's on educational tools and district programs. Each time I've constructed a training for teachers or administrators I've found myself using the ADDIE method to ensure the problem and goals are met and always trying to make the lessons relative and realistic for the learners. 

               When it comes to my future goals I hope to use this degree to apply what I have practiced to more trainings that I create and implement in my district. I've come to learn that there are many uses for this degree inside and outside of education, and hope to gain an opportunity to advance my career not only in Educational Technology but as an Instructional Designer. I will focus on becoming a Google Trainer and Microsoft Innovative Expert Trainer so that I can continue to help others strategically integrate educational tools into their lessons at my campus. I look forward to increasing my knowledge and practice in Instructional Design as my career continues to flourish, and look forward to any opportunities in this profession that come my way. If you have more questions on my career background and goals feel free to contact me using my contact information provided on the Contact Me page.

-Sarah Ostorga