My name is Mary Waters and I am one of four Associate Directors at VCU’s University Academic Advising office. Our office primarily serves freshmen transitioning from high school to college; advisors teach introductory courses about the university helping them acclimate to VCU and discover their educational/career goals. I supervise a team of 6 advisors who advise students already in a major as opposed to those who have to start in a foundation program (just think mainly those awesome liberal arts majors like english, political science, philsophy, etc.) We use a learning management system called Blackboard (which most people are familiar with) to assist with course instruction and web-based engagement about important university policies and processes. Utilizing Blackboard is the only eLearning tool I have used. I’ve not delved into social media for learning and instruction, which is why I’m looking forward to seeing what types of tools this course could offer that I could apply to my student population or share with my advising team.

To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t be more uninterested in social media, especially Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram (except I like the cool photo filters). I’m looking forward to seeing how I can become a better learner and educator through digital media tools. I know eLearning is major buzz word in higher education and I want this class to provide me more context. I tend to come from a position where eLearning can’t come close to replacing the benefits of face to face interaction, so I’m looking to be convinced otherwise. In the chapter, I liked how you mentioned that “…with advancements in digital communication technologies, the field now looks to improve on traditional face-to-face teaching methods.  Emerging technologies such as virtual worlds provide students with the ability to build vast virtual structures, to redesign themselves as they envision in their imagination, and to collaborate with others across the globe.”  What intrigues me is the types of technologies available that build these healthy virtual environments. I especially enjoyed reading about teacher presence and its importance in building connected online communities. I agree  with both of you that instructors must be able to effectively communicate using the digital tools they teach (and preach:).

I am a student in the Adult Learning masters program with a focus in Human Resource Development. I love helping individuals achieve their own personal and professional goals.  My passion is building relationships with diverse groups of people. I pride myself on connecting with others through dialogue. I initially started the program to simply get a masters in education. The first course I took was HRD and I quickly became focused on employee development. I’m fascinated with the idea of corporate education and universities – online platforms to provide real time learning opportunities for employees. So often, I think tacit knowledge isn’t captured in the workplace. There are many things employees just do or know that isn’t listed in an employee handbook or policy guide. Truly effective and high performing organizations have wonderful online knowledge platforms that share vital “common” knowledge. I hope this course can help me in online student engagement initiatives, curriculum design, and cross-collaboration techniques. I’d love to get into HR training and development one day, so perhaps this course could also give me the names of emerging techologies used in that field. I recently saw a seminar on Canva and Storyline. Will we get into instructional design tools?

In regards to setting up Twitter and a blog, those two technologies are not new to me. In the masters program, we are required to blog in each course. From the learner perspective, I am a big believer in transformational learning through reflection. The blog assignments are wonderful ways to “educate the reflective practitioner” (total steal from VCU ‘s School of Ed:) Learning comes from reflection and critical analysis, so I’m eager to continue blogging in this course and reading other student’s posts. I also had a Twitter account set up years ago, and thankfully remembered the password so I could send out my first tweet. Twitter is actually the one technology where I’m unsure  how it can facilitate learning. Tweets are so brief. I suppose it could help facilitate learning if you posted a cool article or literature on a topic of interest. You mention it can be a powerful tool, so I am open to learning more!

In my free time, I’m chasing around two children. My youngest turns 1 tomorrow! We tend to frequent the local Richmond brew scene – also known as the new family friendly hangouts. I am a big fan of running, so I enjoy signing up for the long distance races that Richmond has to offer. In the one hour my husband and I have to spend together after the kids go down, we tend to watch House of Cards, Game of Thrones, VEEP, The Americans, and 30 for 30’s on ESPN.