Week 9 ONL 152 course (17/11– 24/11) – Topic 7 Concluding week: ONL, future perspectives

Having experienced this online course as student, which I have found fascinating, it is my hope to continue my learning in this area. So what was are my future plans, what’s up for me? I wish to investigate what it is like to be an online student in a different learning design, as well as being a student on a MOOC. I have therefore begun my investigation into what online (x)MOOCs are available and due to start in early 2016. For example, I am curious about (x)MOOCs and experiencing being a MOOC student first-hand. I want to answers the following questions: how does the MOOC student experience differ from the learning experience that I have had on the ONL152 course and will I successfully complete the (x)MOOC etc? I do need to gain greater insight into different learning design and pedagogical approaches being used to deliver online courses and why some course designs work for students and others don’t. There is so much potential in eLearning but we (the world wide teaching community) are still learning and looking for learning designs and pedagogy that work effectively in the online environment.

The idea of extending my own learning by completing short and focused courses really appeals to me, I am keen to explore the world of online courses in small manageable “chunks”. I have enjoyed being a student again, the learning experience in the ONL152 course is so different to anything I have experienced before and it has left me feeling excited to explore and learn more.

I intend to continue my reading of research taking place in the key themes covered in the ONL course. After participating in this course, I can better appreciate the fact that we are each responsible for our own scholarship and, as education professionals, we need to dedicate time to doing reading and research. Taking the time to keep current by reading research papers and keeping abreast of new trends in this dynamic field is essential. Going forward, I will need to set aside more time to do this as I have only scraped the surface of what is available.

I have slowly started to extend my online PLN. Thanks to the ONL152 course, over the past few weeks I have connected with some really amazing learning and teaching enthusiasts. I still have a lot to do in this area. My online network will need to grow significantly in the months to come if I want to make the most of the worldwide professional network of learning and teaching experts that are engaging with each other.  Through connecting with this network, I hope to follow what’s happening worldwide as well as see the key trends. I will also need to have to develop my own digital footprint in the future. I need to start to write and share ideas online, though I remain primarily a consumer and observer in the digital world.

So as the ONL152 course ends, my journey of eLearning is only beginning. I am looking forward to learning more.

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Week 7 & 8 ONL 152 course (03-11– 16/11) – Topic 5 Open education practice and Topic 6 Designing learning environments

 

It’s been a challenging two weeks for me as a participant on the ONL152 course.  I have found my schedule a lot more difficult to manage and finding time for the ONL152 course has been tough. I have to confess there were times when I felt I had to carefully prioritise everything thing in my life – which resulted in occasions where I unfortunately just did not have the sufficient time for the course. As a result, I was able to make the to attend all the group activities and Google Hangouts and I found myself reading the suggested articles late in the evening after a busy day (I admit, not ideal).  Over this time I have had to literally force myself to complete the course activities. I battled to juggle the often conflicting time pressures of being a student, responsibilities of a pressurised job as well as being a mother. I can now truly sympathise with those who do choose to dropout of online courses. I appreciate that it can all become too much for any working adult to juggle everyday life with online studying – it is not easy!

So why did I stay on the course, what kept me engaged and committed?  It was my fondness and commitment to my peers in my PBL group that kept me motivated and committed to completing the ONL152 course along with the that I truly found what I was learning was meaningful and relevant. I valued our groups weekly Google Hangouts – they are great as they encourage active brainstorming of ideas, sharing of insights and the value each group member brings to the discussion is an essential part of the learning process. I feel a connection towards my fellow “Internet Explorers”– they are just great to work with – I may have never meet any of them in person yet we are a team and I would not want to let them down. I believe it’s the sense of community, mutual respect, joint responsibility and our eagerness to learn more that keeps us ALL engaging with the course topics and ultimately committed to completing this course.

My thinking  over the past two weeks has shifted from, “what have I learnt as online student” and “how could I use this as a teacher” to one where I have started to think about the practicalities of how am I, as an Education Manager, going to use what I have learnt on this course in my work. In the years ahead, my institution will undertake a journey of introducing a blended approach to learning and teaching. I will be expected to lead the way as we prepare our institutions leaders, teachers and students for this evolution.

Online learning has opened a world of new learning and teaching possibilities. I am excited about the potential impact it will have on learning and teaching in our institution and I do believe it will improve the learning experiences of our students (after all that’s what is should be all about).

I feel empowered by what I have learnt so far on the ONL152 course. My biggest realisation though is: – if I want to stay relevant and be of value to my institution then I will need to take greater ownership of my own scholarship in this area. I have to spend the time developing my knowledge, continuously improving my digital skills and develop my PLN (so that I can see what others across the world are doing this dynamic field of study). The emphasis being on the word being “I”, if I do not keep up I will be left behind.

Week 5 & 6 ONL 152 course (20/10 – 02/11) – Topic 4 Flexible and Mobile learning

My research on flexible learning has left me with more questions than answers.

Trying to understand what is meant by the term “flexible learning” was not as easy it first appeared to be.

During my research I found many definitions of flexible learning, the definition that I most preferred was a broad one given by Collis and Moonen (2001). They describe flexible learning as “learner choice in different aspects of the learning experience”1. While this definition does not specifically focus on flexible learning in the digital world, our key interest, as participants in this course, has to be on the ways we can use technology to design flexible learning spaces for our students.

I do believe that the future of higher education lies with a flexible learning approach using technology and virtual learning spaces, as it has the potential to improve access to HE and offer students an abundance of powerful learning opportunities (and should therefore increase student success) . If we want to “tap” into flexible learnings’ true potential, we will need educators to be innovative and ready “think out the box”. From my research on this, my strong sense is that we will need to put aside everything that we know about traditional learning and teaching if we want to truly capitalise on this opportunity.

I will continue my research in this area as I am aware that I have only scraped the surface on this critical area of educational study. Everyone is new to this concept and things are quickly developing and evolving constantly. There seems to be enormous amount of exciting, innovative experimenting in this area happening around the world currently.

It’s of vital importance to me to get and keep myself up-to-date with the latest trends and insights as I do believe this the direction our institution is going to head.

Source:

1 Collis, Betty and Moonen, Jef.. 2001. Flexible Learning in a Digital World: Experiences and Expectations.   Collis, Betty, Moonen, Jef.

Week 4 ONL 152 course (13/10 – 19/10) – Topic 3 Collaborative learning and communities

Time to blog again .. so four weeks into the ONL152 course – what can I share?

Well, I’m still trying to come to grips with weekly blogging …. What do I think about blogging? Blogging feels too planned, too much like writing a personal journal (I’ve never been a fan) and my blog posts seem to me to be just self-indulgent garbage (I am sorry if I sound harsh when I say that). Blogging just feels too contrived and forced for my liking. I doubt very much that I’ll continue blogging after this course, but for now I remain committed to the learning journey and exploring all aspects of the online learning environment. What I do appreciate is that my weekly blog entry makes me take time each week to conscientiously reflect on my learning journey on the ONL152 course … and I do also see the value in sharing my learning experiences with my peers 🙂 So despite my feels of awkwardness when blogging, I will continue to write and share a blog post each week of this course.

Online collaborative learning has been a most wonderful revelation. It feels so new and exciting, its interactive, it is filled with “sparkle” and “bling” thanks to amazing Web 2.0 tools and I just love it 🙂 My ONL152 PBL group “The Internet Explorers” is made up of just the most amazing group of people and I have them to thank for introducing me to the “awesomeness” of collaborative learning! Our weekly online interactions and engagement focus around the problem-based scenarios have provided me with powerful learning opportunities.  I think because I can engage with my team members and contribute in a way that feels authentic and comfortable. Yes, it took time for that sense of community to develop and technical difficulties have posed a challenge along the way – but that’s all part of the online learning journey. I do prefer our synchronous meetings, real-time group sessions (Google hangouts are just great for this), but asynchronous aspects/opportunities are important too (we use a Google doc to reflect and record all members ideas and activity).This is all possible thanks to the myriad of free Web 2.0 tools that we are able use to connect, collaborate and share.

I have learnt that: collaborative learning + digital literacies + web 2.0 tools = learning3.

This week I am pleased to share that my PLN grew, as I added a host of new people to my Twitter network and I found out about a bunch of awesome educational Twitter Hashtags which I now follow. For now, I remain essentially a digital content consumer and now explorer of digital spaces and tools but I do believe I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I will when I have more digital skills and knowledge, take the new “digital me” to market.  I am painfully aware that any online contribution leaves an indelible record and this leaves me feeling nervous. So before I start actively posting online I want to carefully consider two important questions “how and where I want to share the new digital me?” along with taking some time to consider “what digital impression do I want to leave?”. I want to be purposeful in my contribution and it must feel authentic and ‘true’ to me. I am committed to changing my online practice, but as they say in Swahili … pole-pole or slowly-slowly

pole-pole adv.

from polepole “slowly, gently, softly, quietly; be calm, take it quietly, don’t excite yourself, never mind”: slowly; take it easy [< Swahili]. [1]

Bring on week five and Topic 4 … #inspired #readytolearnmore

[1] http://humanlanguages.com/swahilienglish/rlsp.htm

Week 3 ONL152 (06/10 – 12/10) – Digital me ..

After spending the week analysing my “digital me” I have lots to share and to reflect on.

So what is the status quo?

I spend most of my work week in front of my laptop computer using a variety of different digital tools for communication, collaboration and sharing with colleagues. I regularly use email, Skype, Lync, SharePoint, DropBox, Google docs all powerful digital tools for professional communication, collaboration and sharing.

Privately, I am rather different in my online habits, I generally don’t go online much and when I do I prefer to use my smart phone.  I do look at Facebook posts and Twitter feeds on a daily basis but I don’t generally communicate or participate much in social media. I tend to “lurk” and visit these spaces to see others activity and posts – I very rarely post or tweet myself. It’s my preference not to I guess – to be honest, I don’t feel entirely comfortable to post and share in these online spaces. WhatsApp on my mobile device is just a great tool which I use all the time for a wide range of work and social activities. I use WhatsApp to create groups and this functionality allows me to quickly and effectively engage with both work colleagues and friends – I can get a lot done using Whatsapp. Lastly, I do love to shop online and I do “Google it” at lot!

For many years now I have used two different online profiles – I prefer to use my maiden surname for my professional work and my married surname for more social online activity.  Unusual I know, but its worked well for me. I do however have a new dilemma with respect to my digital presence – the ONL152 course is based in Google + and my Google profile is my personal one. So my two online profiles have started to merge …. mmm what do I do now?? I am confident that my ONL152 studies will assist me to answer this question.

Digging a little deeper into understand the “digital me”, I have realised that my digital footprint on the Web is negligible. This is a direct result of the fact that in my professional and personal capacity I don’t actively contribute and engage in online spaces.  White and Le Cornu (2001)  describe that “visitors understand the Web as akin to an untidy garden tool shed. They have defined a goal or task and go into the shed to select an appropriate tool which they use to attain their goal. Task over, the tool is returned to the shed.” This describes me and my online practices!!!

The way forward .. the new “digital me” .. change is ahead

Many digital tools, for communicating, collaborating, sharing and learning are already a natural part of my everyday life. The ONL152 course has helped me to see that I want to learn more critical digital literacies and change some of my digital practices. I have already expanded my digital literacy way beyond what I expected too and so many changes in my online behaviour have already happened: I am using new Web 2.0 tools, posting weekly on my blog and I have collaborated with people I have never even met in person. Thanks to the ONL152 course, I am growing in confidence through gaining new digital literacies and my circle/network of professional colleagues is slowly increasing. I do believe that by the end of the ONL152 course  that I will improve my digital skills to the point that I will be able to collaborate online with others, contribute meaningfully to digital communities and engage in more “resident” forms of online practice. Ultimately my aim is create a strong professional online identity and build both my social and professional learning networks.

Bring on week four and Topic 3 … #inspired #readytolearnmore

Source:

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).

Week 2 ONL 152 course (29/09 – 05/10)

Another week has flown past and its time again to reflect on week 2 – what can I share of my experiences as a participant in the ONL152 course. What have I learnt?

This week was a very different experience to the first week for me – there were times I felt completely overwhelmed and confused and I truly struggled with feelings of “disconnection” as well as “isolation”. I quickly discovered that I did not know what was to be expected of me. It was a huge relief for me to discover I was not alone – by taking the “plunge” and connecting & sharing with my peers on the course, I soon appreciated that there were others on the course with similar concerns to myself. More importantly, I realised there was a support system in place which I could easily tap into when needed 🙂

I also quickly realised, this is a completely different learning experience to any I have experienced before. Basically, classroom based face-to-face lectures maybe with a few small group tutorial sessions, was the norm when I studied my undergrad degree. Admittedly that was a good few years ago. So this week, I quickly discovered I was a “FISh” out of water on this course!

Some key insights from this week include:

  • My role in the learning process is pivotal – I need to be completely committed.
  • I must ensure that I read, write, engage and network extensively if I want to achieve my learning goals!
  • Peer networks are invaluable.
  • My facilitator (Maria) and co-facilitator (Asa) are a vital life line!
  • I now appreciate that collaboration in an online environment is not always easy – much of it takes place asynchronously and this “mismatch of timing” can be most frustrating when you are looking for answers and interaction with others.
  • I do love Google hangouts – they provide a wonderful time to engage with peers 🙂
  • Developing my digital literacies is a key part of the course.

I end this week with new insights on online learning and a greater understanding myself a learner. Bring on week three … #readytolearnmore

Week 1 ONL 152 course (22/09 – 28/09) – Getting Started

I have ever “blogged” before, but I’m always keen to try something new.

As the first week of the course draws to a close, I have to say that I have much to reflect on – I am not too sure what I expected when I started the course, there was no doubt I was a little nervous as I am truly a digital novice (at best!). I had no need to worry though – this week has been a fun, stimulating and most importantly I have already learnt so very much :).

I have been introduced to (and used) a host of new and exciting digital tools: Doodle, Google Hangouts, forums in Google+, Google circles, WordPress blogs, Padlet and Adobe Connect. Most exciting of all, I have had the opportunity to connect with the members of my group – in our first Google Hangout we got to share a little about ourselves I was really blown away by each of them – what a diverse gathering of amazing people! I am certainly looking forward to working with them in the weeks to come. PS: Maria our facilitator and Asa our co-facilitator rock!

All this in just one week 🙂 Bring on week two … #inspired #readytolearnmore