The most exciting and captivating part of this digital literacy course has definitely been the Independent Learning Project. Before beginning my ILP, I viewed learning as mostly dependent on the instructor, rather than the learner. However, in my ILP the instructor and the learner were one in the same. It became apparent to me after the course, that the majority of the learning is dependent on the learners drive and willingness to put in effort.
I chose American Sign Language as my ILP topic, because I knew that it would be a topic that I could use in my daily life as an educator. Even if there are no deaf or hearing impaired students in the school, ASL is incredibly beneficial in the classroom to navigate students without becoming intimidating or getting the class off track. I also chose ASL as my ILP topic, because I knew that it would be a topic that would keep my interest and never become a chore for me to practice. I love learning about other languages, and I think that the more we branch out of our own language, the more we unite ourselves with the community and the world. Motivating myself to work on my learning project was amazingly easy. I looked forward every week to pushing my mind to the limit of retention. Most of my projects in my other classes were not easy to motivate myself to work on, but this ILP was.
The best part of the project for me was being able to watch videos online and movies which featured ASL and being able to recognize some of the signs. Delivering the signs is definitely easier than receiving the signs for me. So when I finally reached a point where I was able to interpret signs at a regular rate it was incredibly rewarding and gratifying. I had become the most frustrated when I was trying to recall signs relating to numbers and finances. So many of the signs relating to numbers and costs were very similar to one another, but very different from the English systems. I did have to push myself the most through the two weeks that I practiced numbers, because I did become discouraged for a while.
Throughout this semesters ILP, I discovered that I am quick at learning new information and storing it for a short amount of time, but my long term memory is not my strong point. I was able to pick up signs quickly and memorize for the week easily, however when I would review past weeks lessons, I quickly realized that I had lost nearly half of the information. I thought that maybe I was progressing through the lesson too quickly, and this is why I was unable to recall the information after a few months. Yet, even when I slowed down on the lessons, the retention percentage did not increase. The only method that worked was to go back through the previous information bi-weekly so as to etch it into my long term memory.
Incorporating Independent Learning Projects in my future classroom is an absolute must. Allowing students to work at their own pace, on a project that they chose based on their needs and interests is a wonderful way to engage students in meaningful learning and critical thinking. Students will exceed expectations if their interests are peaked and they see a real world application to the learning. Also, ILPs allow students to discover what works in their learning processes and what does not.