Personal Learning Experiences
My band director was teaching me how to play the trumpet toward the beginning of high school, in one of our first band classes. I didn’t have any particular aptitude for the trumpet but was determined to keep trying; the band director gave the the chance to switch to baritone or keep practicing the trumpet. I decided to keep practicing, and this let me develop music reading and performance skills and (more importantly) a work ethic that has been pretty darn helpful since then. At the time I was learning the skill for its own sake and to fit into a social group, but now, the challenge it entailed seems like more of a reason.
A digital humanities professor took the time to do a directed study with me on video composition. We learned about video editing, screencasting, digital poetry, the Scalar content management system, and the rhetorical choices involved in video poetry and narratives. We did so by creating a weekly call-and-response style video conversation exploring philosophical themes through mashups, and then compiling them into a nodular Scalar book; in other words, we learned mostly by shared practice! I was pursuing these skills a little to further my professional prospects, but mostly because I love making things.
During my time as an Instructional Technologist at a small-ish college, I’ve focused a lot on supporting online courses, which means that I’ve had to learn a lot about digital accessibility fairly quickly. In order to get online courses ready for learners, I have to not only recognize accessibility standards but be able to implement them personally. This entails skills such as performing and correcting the OCR process on PDFs, adding alt-text to images, correcting header styles in HTML and PDF documents, tagging and adding metadata to PDFs, and more. My knowledge of accessibility is mostly self-taught, though my colleagues share useful discoveries whenever possible, and we were once able to consult with members of a center for the blind. Although I’m glad my job affords me the time and space to learn these skills, I wish there were more resources and readily available trainings for digital accessibility out there; hence my goal for the MicroMasters is to design a Canvas course on creating an accessible Canvas course (meta, I know).