I had no idea what COVA was when I first heard mention of it, and now I feel like it’s what I have been looking for without even knowing it. Choice, Ownership, Voice and Authenticity.  As I watched the videos and did the readings this week, I kept coming back to my first love in education which was Maria Montessori. She was the first to advocate respect for the learner, give them choices, control, ownership over their development even at the young age of 3 and 4 years old. It gave me a view of education I had never experienced, one that resonated with me and seemed to represent everything that education ought to be. I feel that COVA, UDL (Universal Design for Learning), Jonassen’s 7 attributes and even the 6C’s all have their roots in this wonderful philosophy.

Since I was always an obedient, compliant child, over the years I have adapted to the usual way of being taught and I have become quite good at it. I can sit and take notes, review them, read the books, write the papers that are required, regurgitate the information on a test. I brought home decent grades in elementary school through high school.  However, throughout my many years sitting at a desk, I never really connected with the material, because it was always about what the teacher wanted – not what I wanted. So most of the interesting facts and knowledge I learned back in school have been forgotten. I ended up frustrated with my education, and felt that none of it was really about me or for me, and that I had wasted 12 years of my life doing what someone else told me. Even in college, I was disappointed to find that the pace was so rushed and the amount of material so vast that meaningful learning could not take place, even when I wanted it to. Traditional education is like a restaurant that wants you to eat as fast as possible and then pay your bill so the next customer can get a seat and spend their money. It’s about getting kids through the system as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s not about the student.

COVA gives the learner the power to learn. I think that in the Digital Learning and Leading program, the COVA approach will ensure that I walk away with knowledge that I own, with experiences that I created, and with a deeper understanding of the material presented. It appeals to me for many reasons, the first being that it reflects my own philosophy on education. COVA allows the freedom to choose how I process the new information, and allows me to create something personal and meaningful with it.

Granting me ownership and agency over the ePortfolio process is showing me respect and giving value to me as a learner – trusting that I can self-regulate and have the capacity to come up with something great on my own. I like the aspect of the reflective voice as well. I create something in my own voice, then I can reflect on the process itself, and go back and revise and restructure my work. The focus is truly on learning instead of the one-time test or final paper that may or may not truly represent what I can do. And the final product is something that I can take with me, “proof” of my engagement, my efforts, my learning and my growth. But it is also “proof” that is infused with my own personal choices, taste, personality and goals – thus making it highly authentic and meaningful.

I honestly don’t know exactly which tools I will use in my ePortfolio yet. I was so impressed with all the tools shown in the PLB (Personalized learning Backpack) and I realized there are so many I don’t even know about yet! (yes, I’m using the word yet a lot lately, thanks to Carol Dweck) So I will need to do some digging and experimenting to see what I click and connect with.

Traditional learning was set up, as Seth Godin shared in his talk “Stop stealing dreams”, to supply the industrial age with what it needed: both compliant and obedient workers and consumers. Interchangeable people, like the interchangeable parts of the factory. It was not learner centered at all. Today, I believe that education is slowly coming around to personalizing the learning experience. I thought that the UDL video was a great place for me to start.

In the video it talks about the three basic starting points for a teacher who wants to transition from the traditional approach to a more Universal approach.

Step one is to present the information in multiple ways, by several different means, using various media, so that the students will at least connect with one way it is represented.

Step two is to allow for multiple means for action and expression of what they are learning. They can demonstrate it in a way that makes it meaningful for them and reinforces the collaborative nature of learning, thus creating a cooperative learning environment that reflects the partnership between learner and teacher and also between learners themselves.

Finally step three is to offer multiple options that engage students and keep their interest. Like Michael Fullan said in the video “Technology: The New Pedagogy and Flipped Teaching”, we must make it “irresistibly engaging”, with real life problem solving and engaging digital world technology that pulls them in and keeps them in the learning mode long after the bell has rung.

 

What is Universal Design for Learning | National Center On Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl

Technology: The New Pedagogy and Flipped Teaching (7:41) Published by: How Technology is Changing the Conversation    Added: 01.20.2014 YouTube URLhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCvwtiOH0co

Stop Stealing Dreams – Seth Godin @ TEDx Youth at BFS (16:57) Published by: TEDx Youth   Date: 10.16.2012 YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/sXpbONjV1Jc