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About Gary

Some background information

years of experience teaching adults and university students

years designing & teaching blended university courses

education centered websites created on www since 1999

video tutorials produced for a wide range of learning styles

Current Professional Practice

As detailed in the introduction to this site, I am an Assistant Professor at Hanyang University (HYU) and, in addition to personally redesigning most of my classes into blended (hybrid) courses, I developed a new multimedia writing and blogging course that draws heavily on social constructivist principles.

From June until December 2014, I co-chaired the course redesign project team that, for the first time in HYU’s history, converted a traditional face-to-face English course into a blended (hybrid) course for an entire department. 

I currently serve as chair for my department’s English Film Festival Committee and have also served on the Technology Committee, acted as an emcee for the film festival and other extracurricular events on campus.

A Brief Synopsis of My Previous Background in Education

I had several years of experience in Special Education as both a classroom educator and a consultant/trainer. This laid a solid foundation for my current interest in educational technology and led to my firm conviction that, if utilized appropriately, educational technology can help make knowledge and success more equally attainable for students of all backgrounds and abilities.

As a Special Education teacher from 1994 to 2001, I became familiar with such concepts as multiple intelligences, learning styles, individualized education programs (IEPs), classroom adaptation, collaborative teaching, and adaptive/assistive technology. From witnessing the positive results of these concepts being successfully implemented—usually with considerable reliance on technology—I developed a serious interest in educational technology.

As a “consultant/trainer” from 2007 to 2009, my research endeavors and practical experience were focused on special needs and literacy resources for teachers, school psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists. These resources involved various technologies and it was my job to learn and then teach the appropriate technology to existing clients and future prospects. To support these efforts, I developed a website that provided current data on the latest Universal Design for Learning (UDL) resources and hosted a number of  training videos, many of which I produced myself.

In March 2010, I began developing blended courses for my students at Hanyang University. Some examples of this initiative are posted on the Current E-Learning Spaces page.

Primary Objective, Questions, and More Objectives

extra details for those who are 'really' interested
Overarching Primary Objective (tap/click to open)

One primary overarching objective for this MET ePortfolio is to complete a narrative that can be traced back to high school, when I first began making use of my voice to have fun reading announcements on the high-school PA system and spinning vinyl discs as a volunteer disc-jockey at a local radio station. After graduating  from high-school, then working in the logging industry for a few years, I rekindled my passion for merging my voice/personality with technology by landing a paying job at a radio station in Campbell River, BC, and began an exciting career in radio broadcasting. After two more radio stations and 7 or 8 years, however, the meager salary began to stifle the excitement–and I grew weary of living near the poverty line.  So I sought out more lucrative work in other industries and gave up on the dream of becoming a media mogul and potential candidate for public office. (Pragmatism won out over idealism.)

Then, shortly after the emergence of affordable personal computers, that idealistic fascination with merging personality and technology to make a positive difference in the world was rekindled once again when I went back to school, mastered my word processing skills on a 2001 vintage personal computer and learned how to write good academic papers (that were impossible to do without “cut and paste” capability), and in 2004, I graduated with an Honours B.Ed. degree.

Teaching jobs were scarce in those days, so to get started in a classroom as soon as possible, I decided to take a job as a teacher assistant in a special needs program. This was before inclusion with mainstream students began, so I was quite impressed with the amount of technology that was being utilized in that special needs classroom. The teacher and her other more experienced assistants were using a small Apple computer and other technologies to help young learners with autism, Down syndrome, and various other “cognitive delays.”

This was the birth of my interest in educational technology and, because I have always had a flair for using technology, it was also my Ralph Waldo Emerson moment“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” In other words, this was when I first began to really fulfill my destiny and focus on merging my keenest interests with formal education.  I have been fulfilling that destiny ever since and, with all those years of self-taught DIY hands-on experience, my primary and overarching objective is to connect the more scholarly and current knowledge that I have constructed in the MET Program with the prior knowledge that began to develop way back in high school, and then re-emerged when working in that first special education classroom.

 

Rationale for the Primary Objective (tap/click to open)

My reasons for wishing to achieve this objective are based on the following facts:

  • When I return to Canada, I will be seeking employment and competing with candidates who may also be recent graduates from the MET (or similar) programs.
  • Most of the competing candidates will be younger and less experienced than me.
  • It will be necessary for me to prove that my unique lifelong practice of combining human personality with technology plus a recent Master of Educational Technology degree from UBC is the best choice for the next hire.

 

Some New Questions (tap/click to open)

In addition to that ambitious primary objective, the development of this ePortfolio has raised some key questions. Because the audience is expected to be more than just myself, friends, and family, those new questions materialized from the reflections and connections that emerged as I considered the various MET courses and artifacts.

While developing this ePortfolio, questions that were repeatedly considered included:

  • How is this artifact not just a trophy-artifact…an artifact chosen merely to show off a glittering skill with all the bells and whistles–but no real relationship to teaching and learning?
  • What particular competencies are my strongest? Which artifacts best demonstrate those competencies?
  • Given the choices and directions I have followed in my learning and teaching over the past few years, what paths should I consider taking in the immediate and long-term future? Where could someone like me make the most positive contribution(s) in education and/or educational research?

 

Five Secondary Objectives (tap/click to open)

As I formulated answers to those and other emerging questions, additional objectives emerged and these, in turn, had some additional influence on the continually evolving purpose of this ePortfolio.

Besides the ongoing peer feedback that comes with most MET courses, another key factor in this evolutionary process was what is known as Slow Online and Ubiquitous Learning (SOUL)  . SOUL is a learning approach that allows learners a natural, realistic amount of  time to reflect on course content and discussions, thus allowing us to more fully develop and apply new knowledge. Being enabled to use the SOUL approach resulted in the following secondary objectives:

1. to acquire a clear and comprehensive perspective on how the various concepts, skills, and artifacts of the MET courses have had an immediate impact on my teaching practice and students

2. to develop specific plans for continued professional development that draw on the above perspective (Objective #1) and consider the major shifts in direction that, because of advancing technology and continuing pedagogical research, are taking place globally in education

3. to provide tangible evidence of such basic competencies as critical thinking, targeting needs, following best practices, conducting and reporting educational research, linking theory to practice, and collaborating with others

4. to make use of an appropriate metaphor/theme that allows the audience to immediately relate to the competencies that are being demonstrated by the artifacts and reflections

5. to develop and maintain an easy to navigate platform that allows the audience to view and assess content with minimal time expenditures

References

Real Life Examples of Linking Theory to Practice:

The following blurbs will connect you to current examples of linking theory to practice.

More About Gary

additional information about Gary’s background & current practice

Reflections on HYU Practice

ongoing initiatives to support learners and faculty at Hanyang University

Overview of Current Sites

e-learning spaces that Gary currently uses in professional practice

Links to Old Spaces

discontinued spaces that trace Gary’s online footprint back to 2001

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