“If you want to be a downhill mountain bike racer and professional rider you need to learn in the right environment” (Harapnuik, 2015). In his video, Dr. Harapnuik explains his decision to move his family to a new location where his boys might benefit from a significant learning environment. Although, at the time, I understood the reference to the importance of the environment on learning outcomes, I now realize the equal importance of environment to the development and progression of my own innovation plan.
When I began the DLL program I was working in a district that was definitely NOT a healthy learning environment for myself, the teachers, and by extension, the students. The administration was purely managerial and honestly had no interest in leading or developing a learning culture. Therefore, I made the decision to move on to a more fruitful environment where my ideas and innovation plan had the potential to flourish and where I felt I could grow as a leader of learning. If I am honest, I was worried about how the move would affect my innovation plan and how I would address it in this capstone course. However, in retrospect, I am convinced that the move came at exactly the right time for myself and my new district. A blended learning approach that creates a more personalized, student-centered learning environment for students is no longer simply a “fantastic notion”, but a real possibility. Although, true systemic change will always have obstacles, I am encouraged and optimistic that the work that lies ahead will produce the positive learning outcomes that I know in my heart would not have been possible in my prior district.
As I reflect on my experiences with the COVA approach to learning, I admit that in the beginning there was slight panic. Diving head first into the deep end of website creation gave me an uncomfortable jolt. I also think the idea of having ownership and control over "how" best to demonstrate my own learning caused me great anxiety. However, after the initial shock, I eventually settled into what I have always believed to be the best approach to learning. My constructivist views, as eluded to in my personal learning manifesto, would compliment my blended learning innovation plan. Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic learning serves as an example of how true ownership, relevance and an emotional connection to the content can influence the learning process in a way that transcends the act of simply assimilating information. The COVA approach provides the freedom to demonstrate learning in a meaningful way that is vital to the engagement, motivation, and persistence needed for both students and adults to be successful in any learning venture. The COVA method brings ‘authenticity’ to learning which in turn will elevate the importance of effort and true conceptual learning. As my learning has matured, I have developed a vision for blended learning that has become both the catalyst and bedrock for the ongoing discussions with district leaders about the direction for student learning. These topics as well as a focus on the 4 C's (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) will be a priority in the district next year. The quote “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” by Hillel the Elder (c. 110 BC to 10 AD) is the spirit that I have decided to approach the future as my team and I prepare to influence change in our district.
Creating and modeling significant learning environments and how that environment can positively impact teacher professional learning has been a priority as I have settled into my new position this year. My Innovative Learning Specialist Team was charged with facilitating our district "Vision 21" meetings after school periodically throughout the year. These sessions served as great opportunities for us to demonstrate blended learning concepts and practices through authentic, relevant professional learning. We received positive feedback and gratitude from teachers for providing these unique learning experiences. Of course, the ultimate goal was to influence and model practices that teachers could then take back to their own classes. I plan to continue to provide this type of professional learning experience for teachers as well as introduce other alternative learning paths such as book studies, online courses and less formal modes of learning such as Twitter chats and Edcamps. All of these options ARE the significant learning environments that the DLL program exemplifies. My job is to be the change agent that will advocate to administration, on behalf of the teachers in my district, to recognize the importance and significance of teachers choosing and having control of their own learning.
COVA [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6991
It’s About Learning Creating Significant Learning Environments
Harapnuik, D. "Creating Significant Learning Environment" [Image]. It’s About Learning Creating Significant Learning Environments. Retrieved from
Harapnuik, D. (2015). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE) [Video]. Retrieved from