Thursday, August 7, 2008

M.Ed. in Gifted Education at ULM Goes Online

During Summer I 2008, the masters degree program in Gifted Education at the University of Louisiana at Monroe went ONLINE via Moodle. The first course to be taught online was SPED 574 Developing Creativity in the Classroom.

Students need to be commended. Their commitment to online learning was tested. Not only was this their first gifted education course online, it was many of the students' first exposure to MOODLE. Their persistence in learning how to navigate this new vehicle for course delivery was commendable. They not only had to be skilled in content but had to learn a new PROCESS for learning. This is a skill that teachers of the gifted need to develop, so one could say that these scholars got a little bit of unexpected lagniappe! Online learning is not for everyone. It takes a lot of discipline to work independently, and the students in this class exhibited much scholarly maturity.

Additionally, summer sessions can be difficult because of the short time period of the semester doubles the intensity of the learning experience. The students exhibited much tenacity and accomplished much because of their professionalism. Creativity and how it impacts the lives of gifted individuals is a large field. This course provided these teachers of the gifted and future teachers of the gifted with a thorough introduction to the areas involved. Those areas included defining creativity, personality characteristics of creative people, assessment of creativity, creativity training programs, plus a lot more.

The participants of SPED 574 were also challenged to develop their own personal creativity. An exhibit hall was created in order to showcase their products. Maggie Durbin, a teacher of gifted math at Sterlington High School, didn't know that she was an artist, too! Other products on exhibit in the exhibit hall include a picture/sound/slide show that teaches preschoolers about the alphabet using the child's actual photos and a children's book about a character named Octavia the Oppopatamus.

But don't take my word about this! Here are some anonymous comments from the participants of this class.............

"I am taking two online courses right now. This one is FABULOUS! The course has been incredibly enlightening. I would absolutely recommend this course. At first the course was a little bit overwhelming both in content and in getting around in Moodle, but after week one it became easier."

"I loved the online format. I was able to work on this course while on a vacation with my family. The course required a lot of work, but I was expecting to work hard in a graduate course."

" I would recommend this course. It has been my experience as a classroom teacher that the gifted children are not challenged enough. I enjoyed learning about the characteristics of creative children. The class made me think. I had never heard of Wikis before. Online courses do take more time than I expected."

" The technological aspect of the course was not a problem for me. I was familiar with Moodle before I took the course. The work load was appropriate. A four-week summer term condenses the workload from a regular semester so that is something you have to deal with. But I expected to deal with that. In all honesty I spent about 3 hours a day, 4 days a week working on this course. In a regular semester I would have spent about the same amount of time and then I would have to attend class, too. I would definately recommend the course even though I miss the face-to-face of the classroom. I tend to dominate the conversation in regular classes, so in this format I was forced to have to "listen to the other students" who ordinarily would not have contributed. I love the online format. It fits my time management schedule. The class was individualized to meet my needs."

It is crucial that teachers know what creativity is and how to spot it in the students. We waste far too much creative potential in our school's classrooms because teachers often misidentify creative students as behavior problems and trouble makers. Creative learners perceive and embody these perceptions easily. It often causes them to shut down academically and become underachievers. An even worse outcome is that the creative youngster shuts down emotionally and any creativity or potential creativity can be CRUSHED indefinatley if not forever.

The course will be taught online again next summer during the Summer I semester. It can be offered at other times if there is enough interest. This is a course that ALL teachers need to take regardless of whether or not the classrooms in which they teach are at the elementary, middle, high school, or even college level! Who knows we just might discover more artists/math teachers!

Please contact me at or 381-342-1279 if you are interested in taking this fun and exciting class!

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