COVA: Choice. Ownership. Voice. Authenticity.

COVA: Choice. Ownership. Voice. Authenticity.

The COVA learning approach is an innovative learning experience that allows learners to take ownership of their learning by making choices in the learning process to create authentic work and express their voices. In Lamar’s Digital Learning and Leading (DLL) Masters program, the courses follow the COVA approach, which allows learners choice, ownership, voice, and authentic learning opportunities.  The DLL program allowed me to make my own choices in what I was learning which helped me to focus on my interests and guide the future of my own learning.  COVA has helped me to develop an innovation plan to implement blended learning on my campus, has deepened my philosophies on learning, and inspired me to implement the COVA learning approach in my teaching. COVA can help students become self sufficient learners and increase their learning because they can explore topics of their own interests.

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In the DLL Program, students are given choices about topics and areas they want to research. I found it overwhelming at first to be allowed to choose my own areas to research; How do I know if I am choosing the right topics? Am I researching what the professor wants?  It wasn’t until a few projects and assignments into the program that I realized it wasn’t about what I was studying or researching, or if I was meeting the teachers requirements, what was important was how I was using the topics and ideas that I was researching and implementing them in my classroom to help meet the needs of my learners. While the style of learning was an adjustment at first, it has helped me to determine where I want to go with my own learning based on my interests. Understanding that I can focus on topics that met my interests, helped me to focus and shape where I wanted to go with my own learning and future in education.  The COVA model of the DLL program has helped me develop an innovation plan to help implement blended learning on my campus.

Innovation Plan

My innovation plan involves the implementation of blended learning on my campus.  My innovation plan is authentic because I hope it will help my school and district to use blended learning as more of a tool and resource.  Creating a blended learning classroom is something that I have been pushing towards since I started teaching and it’s what I want to continue to learn about and implement as education is adapting to the push of technhology in classrooms. Blended learning has become a passion of mine but it was not an easy start, I not only had to develop a plan to implement blended learning, but I had to get others to believe in what I was telling them about the success and benefits of blended learning. It was somewhat difficult at first to take control of my own voice and focus on my organization as the audience for my work.  I had mixed feelings when I was promoting change to my organization, my first thought was they would think, who is this teacher and why does she think she knows what she is talking about? But my attitude has become more positive over the course of the program because I have learned that if I am confident and able to provide research and evidence that my ideas are effective and there are positive results correlated to the implementation of the practice, then, hopefully, my organization will be supportive and take my idea into consideration. Having the opportunity to research and study blended learning has allowed me to acquire new skills and strategies to help improve student learning but has also influenced my philosophy on learning and education.

Learning Philosophy

COVA and Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE) have aligned with my learning philosophy because they both create effective, learner-centered classrooms by allowing students to expand their learning with topics that spark their interests.  I don’t think my perspective on learning or my learning philosophy have changed, but rather, have expanded and deepened.  I have been able to develop a better understanding for what works because I have experienced it, I can see the success and accomplishment I have achieved and can continue to work to where I want to go which, is what I want for my students to be able to do.  I know that there are ways that students learn and can be positively affected, but there are some practices and styles that are more effective and better for the learners.  As an educator that understands how quickly technology is developing and taking over, I feel it is important to learn how to help my learners to be learners of the future.

There are many ways to teach and there are many ways to learn; As educators we should seek the best practices and strategies for the success of out students. I have been able to experience the COVA approach in learning and feel as though it has helped me focus my interests in my personal learning to know where I want to metaphorically go in my journey as an educator. In addition to learning more about my specific interests, I have been able to take ownership of my work by compiling it into this ePortfolio, which has helped me land my current position and since I plan on maintaining my ePortfolio, I will be able to continue to use it to showcase my research and philosophies in education and blended learning.  I plan on implementing COVA and CSLE into my classroom because I feel it is a practice that can be beneficial to my students for their current and future success.

Implementing COVA in MY Classroom

I will apply the COVA approach to create a significant learning environment that will provide my learners with choice, ownership, voice, and authentic learning opportunities. I want to teach my students how to learn to allow them the opportunity to pursue and expand their own interests. The COVA approach can assist in creating significant learning environments in blended learning to help meet the needs of learners.

I will prepare my learners for the COVA approach and CSLE by modeling examples, answering questions, and expressing the importance of COVA; I plan to gradually immerse my students in the COVA approach with the help of creating a significant learning environment. In order to apply COVA and CSLE, I will allow learners the opportunity to make choices about how they are learning topics, projects they create, or topics they continue to pursue out of interest. Currently my students are studying the human body, soon, students will make a choice on which topics they wish to continue to research and do an assignment or project; For example, if a student has a family member with a type of cancer, they may choose to research that type of cancer and relate that back to one of the body systems, or a student may have an interest in vampire books and choose to research the cardiovascular/ circulatory system. Regardless of the topic a student chooses, they will continue to gain an understanding of human body systems and how they work together, but hopefully, if it’s their choice, they will be able to develop a deeper understanding.  I also want to allow my students the opportunity to show ownership and voice through creating a digital ePortfolio to display their authentic work and progress. This ePortfolio will allow students to share their assignments on a digital platform to be able to share with their peers, parents, or even future schools or employers.

With any new concept or idea, there are some challenges that I will face when using the COVA approach and CSLE.  COVA is a relatively new concept and as a result, many teachers will be apprehensive in adopting the practices; some teachers are stuck in their ways and it’s not always easy to convince them to use new strategies.  Hopefully, if I am able to demonstrate that these models work through the success of my students, I will be able to persuade them into taking some risks and gradually applying COVA and CSLE in their classes.  The next challenge I face deals with curriculum; The State of Texas tells us what to teach and my district provides a curriculum on how to teach it. I think I might find challenges in the assignments I give to my students, I will need to ensure that my students are still learning what I am required to teach them.  The final challenge that I face is knowing that some ideas might not work, there will be trial and error, and I will need to make adjustments.  Fortunately, this is not any different than any other teaching, we monitor and adjust from class to class based on what is working or what is not.  Failing is not failing if we are taking our failures and learning and  growing from them.  As with any concept, teachers should adopt a growth mindset to understand that just because something does not work, does not mean we have failed.  “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison. While there are many challenges associated with implementing new or different approaches such as COVA and CSLE, I am excited to face these challenges head on to improve as a digital educator.

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With the world at our fingertips, it’s important to know how and when to use the information we obtain.  I hope to use COVA and CSLE to inspire my students to explore their personal interests, be self motivated and as life-long learners. The role of educator is changing and adapting to an ever changing world, are you ready for the next generation of learners?