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My Digital Leading & Learning JOURNEY!

August 4, 2019

I am so close to the finish line, I can almost reach out and grab it! Currently I am finishing up my LAST course in my Digital Learning and Leading masters program through Lamar University. This masters program has taken me on a roller coaster of emotions... from tears to triumphs.  I can still remember the first course, Concepts of Educational Technology, where we had to complete a project where we created our growth mindset plan. The instructions were so incredibly vague, everyone in my class kept asking "...but HOW do you want it LOOK?" and our patient instructor replying over and over " is your choice. You can present it however you would like!" This led to each of us taking turns running our ideas by her and if that would be something acceptable.  This type of creative freedom was not only difficult for us to grasp... but also quite frustrating, because we are a generation of students who while we were in school our teachers told us not only exactly HOW to do a project, but exactly how it should look too. This was my first time experiencing COVA, which gives the learner choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning opportunities (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, Cummings, 2018). To be honest, this first experience had me stressed out because I was so concerned with making projects that would please my professor... it wasn't until the fourth course, Disruptive Innovation in Technology, that my focus switched to creating projects that pleased me, something I was proud of and that were authentic. Here is when I grew to really appreciate the COVA model and realized that I genuinely had choice, ownership and voice. 

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Looking back on it now, I don't think there is anything I would have done differently during those first few courses... at the time I had wished they would just tell us the end goal, but I see now why this program is mapped the way it is. We needed to work through those initial personal struggles of wanting to please the teacher to wanting to learn for ourselves. I believe it is this struggle that played a critical role in changing our mindset to a growth mindset and while it didn't seem like it at the time, it did equip us with the tools we needed to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves later in the program when we take on the beast that is our Disruptive Innovation Plan.


When I first heard the phrase "disruptive learning" my initial thoughts went to children who disrupt the teacher while teaching and bother the other kids during whole class instruction. These kids are often disrupting because they aren't engaged, or the concept is too hard, or they see no value in learning the concept. Taking what I learned about the COVA model, I realized that these disruptive students are begging for their individual needs to be met. I work in a low economic school district and am in a unique position because I can really see how disruptive innovation is leveling the playing field for these students. I serve students who have never left our town and who probably never will - but through virtual reality I can take them to Paris or give them the thrill of riding a roller coaster, experiences that others get the chance to have. My students can code robots and take apart computers. They can learn through doing, collaboration and exploration... in the library makerspace environment.


My initial innovation plan was to create makerspaces in my school library. I am lucky to be in a position that already oversees my school library and I had prior knowledge and ideas regarding makerspaces, so I was able to put this initial plan into action quickly. I saw the impact it had on my school and the students, and began thinking bigger. My goal for my disruptive innovation plan changed to expand makerspaces from just my school to all the schools in my district and to equip my co-workers with the skills and mindset needed to successfully create and implement makerspaces in their libraries... with the bigger goal of providing a significant learning environment for all students to explore, create and discover, knowing it could have a great impact on my entire organization.


Creating a significant learning environment (CSLE) that encourages creativity, imagination and discovery was the most important step to me. I wanted to generate a buzz in the air that goes beyond just the school library and infects the hallways and classrooms. Dr. Harapnuik (2015) discussed the importance of taking a holistic approach when creating a significance learning environment that is student-centered. He spoke about how it is vital to have this environment first to encourage students to take risks and ownership over their own learning. I believe that my library makerspaces provide the environment students need to thrive and take their learning in their own hands. Learning about CSLE and COVA has greatly impacted my views on what it means to learn. Learning should not be something we do for an A or to pass the test... it should be something we choose to do for personal gain and when educators implement the ideology behind CSLE and COVA I believe learning does become a personal experience for all learners. 


To learn more about COVA read the eBook here.








Harapnuik, D. (2015, May 8). Creating significant learning environments. Retrieved from YouTube:

Harapnuik, D., Thibideaux, T., & Cummings, C. (2018). COVA: Choice, ownership and voice through authentic learning. Retrieved from It's About Learning: Creating Significant Learning Environments:









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