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.