Saturday, September 24, 2011

week 3 - consideration of IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES: Technology as Lever

I am posting late and I would have liked to over-analyse this post far more, however, time does not permit. Life got in the way this week.
 I would be interested to hear if you agree with my comments under each of the points. Maybe I can over-analyse in the comments.

1. Good Practice Encourages Contacts Between Students and Faculty
In Tamara's most recent blog post The Professor behind the curtain she makes reference to The Wizard of Oz and likens him (The Wizard) to the professor (behind the curtain) and shares with us her realisation that she was not "connecting with students like I did in the classroom". 
I must say that I share Tamara's joy of "human interaction in the pursuit of knowledge"
As I stated in my previous blog post, I believe that it is imperitive for learners to connect on a human level with the person delivering the information. So many tools and technologies that we have at our disposal for use in learning online take away the 'human' behind the curtain and I believe it is our role as facilitators of learning to connect personally so as the importance of this connection is not overlooked or forgotten.

2. Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students
I find myself reflecting back on my days at Uni (as a student) and now recognise the lack of reciprocity between myself and fellow students. Perhaps because I was a mature aged student who already had a life (and two jobs) outside of Uni. Life sometimes gets in the way. 

As an active online learner (learning about learning) now I find that I connect with other students in my day to day life ie. mums at my kids soccer/school who are studying part-time at Uni, because I am learning about learning I ask them questions about how they learn, and make recommendations for podcasts to listen to. This face to face networking is a way for me to put into practice what I am learning and get a better understanding of how other individuals learn. 

3. Good Practice Uses Active Learning Techniques
I agree that when you are learning something you need to touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, get your hands dirty with it. There are so many methods to actively learn via the internet that it can sometimes be overwhelming but that is where I have found following a facilitated course keeps me 'on track' (even though most of the courses I participate in are very informal) and then I am still able to run off on tangents with my own self-directed learning. 

I must also comment that I also like to have a variety of options ie. written, auditory, video to have a choice of method but it also allows me to reinforce the learning eg. written paper (blogpost,article, publication) and a recorded interview with the author and a video on a topic that relates then I need to 'output' - think about it and write about it. As a facilitator this will offer another challenge to provide this variety of methods.

4. Good Practice gives prompt feedback 
I think the key word is prompt, there certainly needs to be an agreement of what this word means for the facilitator as they set the standards and clarify with the learner a timeframe that they will commit to in providing the feedback. 
There are also certain learning activities that require more immediate feedback, eg skill development, for the learner to then progress to the next stage/step in the learning. To avoid frustration on behalf of the learner I would expect that more synchronous methods of communication may be required when learners are conducting skills practice or alternatively if the facilitator effectively troubleshoots the potential errors that the learner may encounter and they create or compile references to answer/assist the learner eg Lisa's instructional videos that she posted in the introductory weeks to assist in setting up a blog, also Todd's elluminate session to troubleshoot setting up a Wordpress blog.

5. Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
Yeah, how long is a piece of string. You can set out timeframes all you like but they can only ever be used as a guide by learners. I know there have been many times that I have spent countless hours trying to 'fix' something, only to give up, go to bed and wake up with the answer. I agree with all the examples, of how technology saves time, that Chickering and Ehrmann refer to in their article, however sometimes the use of the technology is what takes the time. Sometimes there is no getting around it the learner simply has to take the time to 'get their hands dirty' with the technology.

I think we also need to consider the context of this article, written in 1996 when there were many technologies available however not as many, or as many newly introduced technologies as we have today. 

I like the opening sentence in this point "Time plus energy equals learning", because often if you dedicate the final hour of the day it may not be the most productive use of time because your energy levels see you working at half pace. this is why I really like the use of time saving techniques like listening to podcasts while travelling to and from work because it is simply efficient and effective use of time, because I am focussed (no kids in background).

6. Good Practice Communicates High Expectations
Hmmmm! I know that a facilitator needs to set a standard and why not set it high? Sure, but I think we need to be considerate of the fact that learners will have external factors that impact on their learning (life gets in the way) and if we don't want to lose them forever we need to allow flexibility for these times. We need to allow opportunity for learners to get back on track, as this in itself indicates a strong will to succeed if they come back following a setback. 

7. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
Certainly many learners bring a diversity of skills and talents, however I think the learning environment needs to allow the learner to be comfortable to encourage them to express their diversity. I think that making the statement that diversity is respected in the initial stages of the course/journey goes a long way to creating that comfortable learning environment. 

Do you disagree? because I would like to hear if you have had a 'real life' experience with online learning where you have evidence for or against any of these 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Engaging readers means you have to give, of yourself

I have taken the opportunity to read some of the blogs that have been updated on Pedagogy first website. I like the way all individual blogposts with the tag potcert11 feed into the website.

I really enjoyed the honesty with which Bonnie told her personal story it really engaged me, and I think that is the key for blogging, I now have some work to do reading Wesley Fryer’s ebook ‘Playing with Media’. Giving of yourself, to engage your audience. It takes a while to gain the confidence to ‘put yourself out there’ ie write your personal story on a blog that could potentially be seen by anyone but I think that the more you ‘give’ the more you get.
As a trainer I have come to realise that it is you and your ‘honesty’- being yourself, that people connect with when you are training. They can smell an imposter a mile off. If you give of yourself, whether it is your perspective or your story you will engage them, then you deliver the content.
How do we do this online? Just the same as we do face to face, but we have more time to think about it – don’t overanalyse it though, as this takes away the – individuality.

When I first started blogging I was guided by Sarah Stewart, she is a midwife based in New Zealand who was facilitating FO2010 an online facilitation course (which is also being offered in 2012). She gave (& still gives) very personal perspectives, experiences and stories. At first I considered this a little too personal, I suppose I expected her to be more ‘serious and sensible’. In retrospect I can see how her style; both on her blog and in online interactions (to date I have not met Sarah face to face) is ‘her style’. Sarah truly reflects who she is and that’s okay, in fact that is better than okay because she engages me. If I have 100 blogs to read on Google Reader I will check Sarah's latest posts. Another key techique that Sarah does in her blogposts is ‘ask questions’ she prompts readers to comment so as to generate, what I believe Brandon calls, ‘distributed conversations’.

I think Todd engaged us in the Blackboard Elluminate tutorial because his introduction showed us where he is, the physical space around him, the office. Who cares what Todd’s office looks like? Not me, but yes me. I didn’t need to see Todd’s office to understand how to blog better but it engaged me as it was how he invited me into his personal space.  In many ways we can make an online connnection more personal than if we were in a face to face environment.

How do you connect personally and engage your audience?

Alec Couros gave us a personal insight to himself, with family photos. I would suggest that the You Tube viral videos he showed were so popular because the subjects give an insight into themselves, whether it is their sensitivity (to being bitten on the finger by their little brother 'Charlie) or their silly side.

So what am I getting at here? Good question! I think I am trying to say that regardless of the tool, you need to find a way (that is yours) of being you. We can learn all the tricks and techniques for blogging, or tweeting or Googl+ing, but you need to make it work for you….whether you are feeding in (reading, listening, watching) or feeding out (blogging, sharing, recording, facilitating, training).

I am interested to hear your thoughts, do you feel that giving a personal perspective engages readers or is it too risky to put 'yourself out there' into cyberspace?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alone, together - in my PLN

Here we are at the end of Week 2, what happened to Week 1?, I blinked and missed it. I have spent spare moments throughout yesterday catching up on reading and watching.

I enjoyed watching the keynote presentation from Alec Couros, it inspired me to finally put pen to paper and illustrate my PLN (Personal Learning Network) which is now a work in progress.

Something that struck me was the story about the girl who contacted Eric Whitacre (composer) and inspired him to create The Worlds Largest online choir . Eric used his online network to put forward a challenge which to date has seen him receive 2052 responses "it was all about connecting ....all around the world...these individuals alone, together". The phrase .... 'Alone, Together' made me realise that this is exactly what an online network allows, as it is a window for one person to connect to many like minded individuals.

Couros refers to Twitter as "one of the best professional development opportunities", I would certainly agree with this. I remember when I first connected to Twitter (March 2008) and I was sadly dissapointed because I was expecting to be able to make connections with many learning professionals - I followed 2 people, I tweeted twice then gave up.

When I connected again under my current profile kimmy_mc I was participating in an online course and had the opportunity to connect with a few people (followed a few people that they follow), I read a few things (so followed the authors), saw some retweets that I was interested in (and followed them) ...and it took off ...exponentially. Now I follow 155 people (not very many in the scheme of things) but I struggle to keep up with the volume of information that comes at me when I log onto Twitter. It is professional development in the palm of your hand. (literally, now that I have an iphone). Admittedly I am a lurker and I should share more, I will share more...just watch me!
As a result of creating an illustration of my PLN I was inspired to review my earlier posts on my FO2010 blog to reflect on 'where I came from' in those initial steps of my online journey.

Inspired by Alec Couros' family portraits, I included the above image. Also as an illustration of something that is so big you need to look for the finer detail, if you look closely you can see my tiny 1 year old (at the time) son sitting at the base of the tree. This was taken in the beautiful Queenstown Botanic Gardens in New Zealand on a family holiday - very happy memories.

I also watched the recording of Fridays Elluminate-Blackboard session. Todd did a great job explaining how to use Wordpress effectively as a blogging platform. What I would have given to have that type of instruction for Blogger when I first started blogging. I still have 2 seperate blogs as I am unable to merge blogs on Blogger - a bone of contention with me ... so if anyone has any suggestions please enlighten me.

A key take-away for me from Todd's presentation was to keep blog posts concise, or was that Lisa's recommendation? Clearly I need to work on that ! So many development opportunities. Speaking of which, I have not even addressed the questions that Lisa had re: Alec's presentation, perhaps these are becoming 2 seperate blog posts. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pedagogy first - my introduction

I stumbled upon this course when reading one of Stephen Downes' OLDaily newsletters (always a wealth of information about educational technology and many other topics).

I am keen to be involved in another MOOC and share ideas in an international forum. With the focus on pedagogy, I am hoping that the course content will relate to my interests in adult learning online. I wonder if many of the participants will come from the perspective of teachers in a classroom environment K-12 or adult ed, even so, I am confident that I will still be able to actively participate and contribute.

I am working in the Insurance Industry, predominantly training new staff however I am keen to become involved in more skill development of existing staff and leaders. I will be able to contribute a corporate perspective from a highly regulated industry (that sounds exciting, doesn't it?)
Image: Learn by Mark Brannan
(cc some rights reserved)