If you have been following along on my research journey, you know how unexpected my role in this project was, but my gratitude for the experience can’t be properly expressed.
First, the original position was listed for an education major (I’m a computer science major), so I didn’t even think to apply. I ended up applying for a different research fellowship through ITS, and was offered a position to help develop the website for Full Spectrum Learning.
The first year of my fellowship was heavily focused on the technical side of the project and figuring out how to explain the project. The major projects I helped with included creating and updating the website, interactive grid design, teaser videos, and updating the grid. More of the first-year process can be understood through this blog post.
The second year of our project focused on the promotion of the initiative throughout the campus community. Our major projects included creating social media accounts and mugs to give professors who gave us data for our survey. Talking about the survey, my large project of the semester was to create an automatic updating data grid. This was an incredibly large project and my reflection can be found here.
Like much of the world, my experience came to a screeching halt in March of 2020 when we were sent home. We still continued to work on projects that could be done remotely. However, most of our projects at that point focused on the promotion of FSL to the campus community, which was much harder to do remotely. To top it off, the data we were collecting was about how professors were delivering their courses to students. The big problem with this data now was everyone was shifting to online teaching/learning and the old and new data could not be mixed. Also, so many students and professors alike were trying to just keep their heads above water, and we didn’t want to ask them to do one more thing.
Overall, in fall of 2020, we decided to not continue the FSL initiative. It was a bit hard to hear all of our projects would not be completed, but we had reached a natural stopping point. I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given to be a part of the FSL team, and I learned so much more than I ever was expecting.
How did this initiative impact me?
So, with all this being said, how did this project impact me and my career as a student? I’ve talked a lot about what I’ve done, but maybe not how it changed my view of education. Coming into college, I knew a lot of the majors I didn’t want to be, and on top of that list was education. I’ve always realized my brain works differently than many others I know and always struggled to explain how I learn. However, FSL was a framework and explanation of education that I had never understood before.
FSL is based on the intersection of technology and engagement in the classroom. Before college, almost all of my classes had been run exactly the same. It may have varied a bit from subject to subject, but for the most part it was about being handed or told information and I was expected to regurgitate it back up on a test or essay. However, there are a multitude of different ways to teach and to learn and sometimes other approaches work better for me. This realization has been one of the biggest and most important of my college career. I think each student finding out how best they learn and study is the crucial step that is so needed mainly during that first year of college.
If you know me well, you know I’m not fond of presentations and talking in front of strangers. So, when I was asked to start presenting about my work with FSL and also how it includes the Knight Domains program, it was incredibly terrifying for me. There are three incredible speaking experiences that stick out to me throughout my fellowship.
- Board of Trustees Presentation in October 2018 ~ This one was probably the most terrifying because I had only been an SNC student for about 2 months and the Board of Trustees oversees all of the college operations, so it was for sure overwhelming. However, they were very nice and receptive and gave me confidence for other presentations to come.
- Domains Conference Presentation in June 2019 ~ The Domains Conference was the first major conference I attended with more than people from the local community. There were about 80 people from across the world, mainly in departments such as Academic Technology at their respective colleges. The biggest surprise of the presentation and conference as a whole was that SNC was a leader in the domains program and many other schools were looking to us on how to start their programs. I loved the opportunity to attend the conference and learn more about the importance and also how blessed I am to have the opportunities I do at SNC.
- Digital Pedagogy Lab in August 2019 ~ Although I didn’t present in a sense, the way the conference is run is essentially a week-long class on a topic in higher learning. The course I took was Open Learning and honestly, I struggled a lot because I didn’t really understand most of what was being discussed. However, I still learned from that experience and how different and important each of our voices is.
Although I never expected this opportunity, the way it has changed my life can not be described. A small amount is listed above, but another huge piece is how it connected me to the Academic Technology team and eventually being able to start as a Tech Bar Consultant who teaches other students about digital literacies, mainly domains. I love being able to work for Tech Bar and it is a role that I probably would never have been able to have if it weren’t for my work first for FSL.
It is still bittersweet to see FSL come to an end, but I am so thankful for the past two and a half years.