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

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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