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MET Reflection


      In the Spring of 2020, I was concluding my undergraduate career and staring down the dark tunnel of the unknown. At this point, I felt as though the knowledge I had wanted to acquire through higher education was lackluster. My education was supposed to open doors; instead, I felt more closed. With the advent of COVID-19, others saw doors closing; I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. A small light, a smartphone screen. I watched as people adapted to learning and interacting online, as I had been doing for years.  
      I'd previously joked at the idea of becoming the next Doc Haskel. However, the pandemic shined a light on the world of esports so brightly it was almost blinding. Esports programs seemed to spring up overnight. With the programs came the need for people to lead those programs. I had applied to some but felt underqualified for most. Ultimately, I decided to learn more before going somewhere to help a budding esports program. That is when I came to the door of the EdTech program.
      When I opened the door, I assumed I would stay a lurking student, interacting when necessary, feeling like I wasn't meant to be here, but I wanted and needed to be here. I needed this knowledge to allow me to educate others about the world of esports I so deeply love. Those ideas, for the most part, are long since gone. While I have never met most of my peers or professors, I feel like I know them beyond the screens we speak through. The students and professors in this program helped me grow into an educator, not just a coach. I have never once felt like my lack of traditional educational experience was something my peers saw as an issue. Instead, this program, and the people within it, treated me as an equal despite my role as an educator being drastically different from their own.

Lesson One: Reflections on Design & Development

      Through my time in the MET Program, I have learned that education design and development can be, and will be, for me, a concurrent and iterative design process (Davidson-Shivers et al., 2018). Though it is just one of the many models for design and development, I learned during my MET journey.
      As I journeyed through MET, I utilized different design models to create three drastically different courses, all centered around the topic of Nonviolent Communication. The first version was a short single-day course that required me to synthesize the most crucial information that the learners lacked that utilized backward design and the iterative design process (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005; Larson & Locklee, 2019). The second was a six-module prototype course. The third is a six-module course created using the concurrent design model. When designing this course's second and third iterations, I kept the intended end goals in mind during development, part of the backward design process (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Knowing that I need to go from point A, based on a needs assessment, to point B, the end goal is a process I have begun using in my professional practice. While the needs assessment is done rather informally by simply asking my players questions, the rest of the process remains relatively the same. I learn what knowledge they lack. I determine what goal would represent them mastering this knowledge. Then, I develop a plan to coach the players to help them acquire the skills and knowledge skills they need to reach the end goal.
      Another practice I have learned about designing content is creating content relevant to the learners within its subject matter (Larson & Lockee, 2019). When the content is relevant, the learner constructs the meaning behind the material themselves (Orellana et al., 2009; Wiggins & McTighe, 2008). This, in turn, can facilitate self-regulated learning. 
      While coaching players, the information I am giving them should, at the surface, seem relevant to them. However, keeping them engaged is the tricky part. In EdTech 501, I learned about the idea of a Flipped Classroom. A practice I have since taken into my coaching practice. The practice focuses on what keeps the students engaged, playing. The learning takes place at home.

Lesson Two: The Art & Science of Teaching

      When I first joined this program, I felt I wasn't qualified to be considered a teacher. I was a coach, not a teacher. However, I have since learned that coaching and teaching go hand in hand. The research I did on the Flipped Classroom in EdTech 501 changed my viewpoint on how I coach and see my role as a coach. I began to incorporate the new teaching knowledge from my EdTech courses into my coaching from this point onward. 
      Previously, I would front load practices with information. How I expected the players to remember it all, I honestly do not know. This practice was not engaging nor sustainable (Larson & Lockee, 2019). The lack of engagement speaks for itself, but the lack of sustainability requires some explaining. With every practice, every balance change to Overwatch came new material I had to write and distribute. It was challenging to keep the learning material up-to-date when I had six to eight players whom all required materials curated to fit their roles. Now, I provide the materials before practice. I use living documents that I update, and I tell the players to review the changes before practice. Then I focus on applying the players' new knowledge during the next practice. 

Lesson Three: Evaluation and Assessing Learning Experience and Environments

      Prior to my time in MET, my frame of reference for evaluations was small. I'd never experienced them outside of work or school. I also didn't fully understand their purpose. Being evaluated at work, for example, typically meant I was in trouble. These evaluations felt more like assessments. After learning about evaluations, I can confidently say they were assessments, not evaluations, in most cases. 
      As time goes on, curriculums change, and new technologies and programs are implemented. With these changes comes the need to understand if those changes achieved their intended goal (Spector & Yuen, 2016). Evaluations within the scope of a course allow teachers and evaluators to determine if small changes in course materials or curriculum resulted in the outcomes they intended.
Evaluations can be applied to programs, projects, or products; all three of these categories also overlap in the education sphere (Spector & Yuen, 2016). We frequently employed peer evaluations within our education technology courses to help our peers' projects reach the desired quality and standards outlined within rubrics. In essence, the rubrics helped define both the projects' scope and the scope of the evaluation. These peer evaluations then facilitate an effort from the students to improve their projects.
      I owe a lot to these evaluations. Through these evaluations, I saw the shortcomings of the projects I was working on. The evaluations provided me with valuable feedback and suggestions for changes that I hadn't even thought about in most of my work. My peers' projects inspired significant changes in my work. The peer evaluations offered a pseudo collaboration opportunity. 
As I work as a coach, a large portion of my work is acting as an evaluator. While my players may assume that this evaluation is focused on if they win a fight, a map, or a match, they are only partially correct. While the goal is ultimately to win, I am more focused on the work and effort the students are putting into their gameplay. I focus on evaluating their application of the concepts we cover in practice. For example, if we discussed how to change their team composition based on the other team's composition, and my players successfully changed either composition, they would have fulfilled the goal I had set forth. However, if they cannot, I will ask my players questions to determine what information I did not provide them or that they misunderstood to facilitate their ability to perform a proper composition swap—the questions at an informal formative evaluation.
      From now on, I intend to tell my players what I expect to see from them in practice, scrimmage, or a match. So their focus isn't on winning a game; instead, on how they applied the information they have learned. I want my placers to focus more on the process of improving rather than the outcome (Clear, 2018). Improving 1% per day creates an exponential change over time (Clear, 2018).

Lesson Four: Networking and Collaboration 

      When I started my MET journey, my view on online education was drastically different. Online education was interacting with the learning materials and, on occasion, the instructor through an online medium. Now, I realize that online learning should reflect in-person courses. In-person and online classes collaborate, allowing for forging relationships with students and peers and creating a community.
      Having a sense of community can lead to deep learning (Marton & Saljo, 1976). In online learning programs, members interact and collaborate with one another (Chapman et al., 2005). The students in the MET program operate as a community of practice, as they collaborate and help one another (Wenger, 2011). While all members have different backgrounds and experiences, they can provide information to one another and build each other's knowledge of Education Technology. Through this collaboration, students can develop relationships and networks (Wenger, 1998).  
      A network in the broad social sense is people you know. But utilizing a network, specifically social media networks, in education is a concept that was focused on in EdTech 543. Social media networks allow content to be shared and built upon (Gewerc-Barujel et al., 2014). In turn, collaboration and socializing are also possible (Hamid et al., 2015). 
      Using social media for learning in the world of esports isn't an idea that is entirely new to me. However, the use of social media to grow my professional network is a concept I have only recently begun to grasp. Since I started taking EdTech 543, I have started to reach out to other coaches and players via social media to receive help gathering information for coaching my players. Utilizing social media can allow teachers, coaches, and players to share knowledge, material, and experiences in short periods.
      I will continue to grow my professional social media network to acquire new information and coaching advice to help further my career as an esports coach. I will also encourage my players to utilize social media as more than just a tool for entertainment but an opportunity to grow and learn from others.

Lesson Five: Ethical Dimensions of Professional Practice in Ed Tech

      When it comes to the ethical aspects of Ed Tech, I can say I learned a lot in MET but still have a lot left to learn. During my first semester of Ed Tech, I took EdTech 506. This course I took as an elective because it was the closest that related to my undergraduate work. As expected, there were many concepts I was already familiar with. 
      However, there were things regarding layout and design that I was expected to know during my undergraduate career inherently or that I had to figure out on my own. Thankfully, this course taught me how to design content and make it visually appealing and accessible. One of the layout sins I still remember from this course is not to make things blink or flash on a webpage (Hagen & Golombisky, 2017, 2010). I believe most of the layout sins covered within this book have stayed with me because I related them to MySpace. I did not particularly appreciate how MySpace looked; yes, to some, it was cool, but to me, it was too much happening on a single page. If I look at a web page and am reminded of the yearly 2000s MySpace, I know that the designer is new or the page is very dated.    While the idea of not including flashing objects on the screen may only be for visual appeal, it plays a secondary role. Flashing objects and contrasting and frequently changing geometric shapes are items on a screen that can trigger epilepsy (Wirrell, 2022). I will always keep flashing objects out of my course websites and warn students when using external websites that have flashing materials in my future practices.
      This course taught me how to assist students who may suffer from colorblindness by adding an underline to hyperlinks (Hagen & Golombisky, 2017). However, having grown up with friends with various forms of colorblindness, I emphasized ensuring my content is colorblind-friendly. One of the most straightforward tools I discovered to aid in the quest was the accessibility filter and inspector built into Firefox.  
      There are other, more subtle, issues that some students may experience while utilizing online content. One example is navigation. This is an issue I ran into when performing my formative evaluation for EdTech 512. While the course's navigation was easy for two of my reviewers, one brought up that finding various materials on their own would hinder her if she were taking the course. Her reason was twofold. She suffered from anxiety and depression; the more effort she had to put forth to find specific course material, the less likely she would be to attempt to find it at all. Secondly, if she were new to canvas, she might become frustrated and give up on the course if the navigation wasn't easy. This led me to add links to every material referenced within a module for easy navigation.   
      While I have only discussed two possible barriers that students may have while interacting and accessing online content, I still need to learn about the likely dozens of others. In addition, I need to know how to incorporate materials and strategies into my courses design and content to circumvent these physical issues that students may experience. As I mentioned, I still have a lot to learn. 
Educational technologies offer the opportunity to adapt education and help students who struggle to access content; however, there is no single answer to fix every issue (Rogers-Shaw et al., 2017). To combat this issue, I will continue to learn about different disabilities and how they impact students' ability to interact with a course. I will take this knowledge to implement tools to allow those students a more accessible opportunity to utilize the course and its materials.

Lesson Six: Leadership in Ed Tech

      As I mentioned, I came to Education Technology's door because of COVID-19. This pandemic brought the idea of distance education to the forefront of traditional teaching practices. I felt that online schooling would become the leading form of education for a very long time. Through my readings, the idea became less ludicrous and more reasonable, as online education allows for improvement, sustainability, and in some contexts, scalability (Larson & Lockee, 2019).
While online and distance education was nothing new to me, other educators and students had to adapt to distance education in the blink of an eye (Laufer et al., 2021). I would have failed if I had been stuck in distance education as a high schooler. I say that because my school and home were on the wrong end of the digital divide (Laufer et al., 2021). I did not have access to a computer at home that could run anything beyond HTML until I had almost graduated high school. Let alone having a teacher at a school who could help me learn new software outside of Google Docs or Microsoft Office. 
      This is where I hoped education technology leaders stepped in. Introducing new technology or giving access to that technology is not enough to transform and improve a school's educational outcomes (Laufer et al., 2021). What it takes is the Ed Tech Innovator. That innovator has to provide the teachers with the skills to utilize the new tools entirely. They have to ensure infrastructure is in place to help teachers, students, and parents who run into problems with their software (Higher Ed Course Design Rubric | Quality Matters, 2016).
      When introducing new educational technology into a school's ecosystem, it is crucial that whoever introduces them does their research and implements them properly—ensuring that there is equal access to online content, as some homes may not have a computer or internet, i.e., socioeconomic gaps (Laufer et al., 2021). If new tools are provided and sent home with the students, the students, teachers, and parents should have access to help if issues arise (Higher Ed Course Design Rubric | Quality Matters, 2016). An Education Technology innovator may be one person or many; however, they need to analyze the students and school they are working within to ensure that what tools they are providing can be utilized to the fullest extent. 

Closing Thoughts on Research & Practice

      I found it challenging to keep each topic in this paper perfectly divided, as they heavily overlap. When designing and developing a course, there's a need to understand the learner. This can be fulfilled by doing an analysis of learners, which in essence, is research. The course should be evaluated during or after development, and the necessary changes should be made based on the evaluation. The accessibility and ethics of a course can be tested through an evaluation. If the content isn't facilitating collaboration when it is intended to, it needs to be changed. This is something that could be noticed during design, evaluation or both. The person involved in all aspects I just mentioned can be a teacher, an education technology innovator, and a leader. The field of education technology is an ever-changing landscape. One preaches accessibility, collaboration, and positive learning outcomes (Laufer et al., 2021).
      With the technological landscape terraforming every time a tool, network, or platform gets the spotlight shined on it, it's the job of those of us in the profession of Education Technology to track, research, and understand those changes. We can build the bridges necessary for learners and teachers to use these new tools and have students be on equal platforms despite being at different schools and in different socioeconomic situations. A digital divide exists, and one question that you can ask to understand how significant that divide is, is, "What would happen if I gave this kid a smartphone?" 
      If you give a kid a smartphone, they'll ask for a charger. If you give a kid a charger, they'll ask for the wifi password. While rather rudimentary, this is the series of questions we have to ask ourselves when we implement new technologies. The list can, and will, continue until it rivals the length of If You Give Mouse A Cookie (Perish& Bond, 1985). When that learner asks for the next thing they need to use the tool we handed them, will they be able to get it? Or will we need to find a way to provide it? Some children may just need the phone and charger; for others, they may need much more. Overcoming the challenge of how to provide all the resources necessary to provide schools, teachers, and students alike with equal access to technology is a very long journey. However, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and we have to be daring enough to take that step (Tzu & Legge, 2018, p. 64). 


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