#ETMooc Introduction

Miles MacFarlaneI'm cheating a bit for the #ETMooc introduction by simply copying my blog's About page content. I've been following MOOC discussions on Twitter, reading about MOOCs on blogs, and just generally interested in what it looks and feels like to be a MOOC participant. Listening to the online orientation I was reassured that this is a fluid, flexible, adaptable, customised (by me) experience of learning in the presence of other learners following their own plans as we meet together to share ideas and progress. It feels more like a learning community than a course or class.

This January I am re-enrolling in the masters program in education technology leadership I had to abandon about 15 years ago (feels like unfinished business). The distance program in the early 90s included VHS tapes FedEx'd to my house, dialing in to a BBS in Colorado to exchange data files, and lots of HTML coding web pages. The best way to learn new technologies is to use them for an authentic purpose - so here I am.

My current focus in the classroom is exploring 1:1 environments with iPods, interactive 3D environments like Minecraft, and Augmented Reality for adding layers of content to the visible world. Students are blogging and we use Edmodo as an extension of our classroom.

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I have always known I would be a teacher, though I wasn't always on that path, particularly in my own junior high and high school years. I do remember times as far back as grade 3 when I thought, "If I were the teacher, I'd do that differently."

TEACHING
After several years at the University of Manitoba for a BA (English / Religion) and Memorial University of Newfoundland for the BEd (Secondary English), I turned down jobs in southern Manitoba to teach in the remote North, an isolated fly-in First Nations reserve. I lived there for 5 years and was vice principal prior to taking a three-year secondment as Coordinator of Education Technology for 35 remote schools. During that period, I was working on a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development with a Concentration in Education Technology Leadership from George Washington University.

TECHNOLOGY
As a child, I was fortunate to have a friend very involved with computers so my technology exposure began around 1977-8 with the Commodore PET and an opportunity to visit the University of Manitoba to use the punch card mainframe to do my grade 5 math homework. In the '80s our television was connected to the Odyssey II and VIC 20; the late 80s Mac computers at University freed me from typewriter ribbons and correction fluid. Finally I purchased my own Mac LCII in 1991 when I took my first teaching job.

TEACHING AND TECHNOLOGY

I enjoy analyzing emerging technology and anticipating how education may change with access to these new tools. With my students, we have ridden the technology wave from learning office suite software, participating in e-mail exchanges, and coding personal web pages in the 90s, to blogging, podcasting, and digital video production in the 2000s, to today where we have gamified our physical learning space, create and explore in virtual worlds, and stay connected and organized using online learning spaces.

I connect daily with my professional learning network using social media. Reading and writing blogs regularly inspire and motivate through sharing, and dialogue.

THIS BLOG
Now, twenty years into the game and still loving it, still seeking ways of innovating in education, still learning, I feel the need to start putting the pieces of my career in some perspective. This Blog is the thinking space in which I articulate and record experiences, ideas, successes, challenges, plans...

As for the name of the blog, I'm increasingly less in love with it as time passes. In my mind, at the time it was a clever play on words blending three things: milestones, my first name, and large books. Now, I don't love it so much and I think it sounds more like I'm talking about some sort of foot disorder, and real milestones look like grave markers. Oh well... It's registered for another couple years. Maybe it will grow on me.

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