Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Week 3 - Unit 1 completion

We are almost to the end of Unit 1 and Assignment 1 is busy being completed (I hope?!) while I freeze to death in Edmonton ... someone remind me again why I came to this country of snow, dark & cold?? :-)

So far only 2 students have posted their assignments, but there has been an amazing amount of activity on the forums - & so far very thoughtful and well-considered. Obviously people have been thinking a lot in their own lives and work about issues such as connectivity, connectivism, constructivism, and what tools we can use for what purposes. It's been good to see how much people have been responding to each others' thoughts and ideas and starting to form relationships and making connections with each other outside of class - i.e. using other tools such as Skype etc. It's also good to see how much people are finding in common with each other even across discipline boundaries.

Shortly the harder work of Assignment 2 will commence when we will see how many people signal their desire to work collaboratively and how many prefer to work alone. I think this decision will reflect both their level of personal and time organization & how busy they are in their personal lives, as well as their individual learning preferences and personalities. Watch this space!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Week 2- Unit 1?!

So posting has begun in earnest ... with some confusion as to where to post what etc ... but that's natural as it's new to many of us. I was a bit late posting protocols for posting too as I went down to Calgary on Friday for a network lunch meeting & got stuck there with the foul weather :-( Luckily I had a friend's place to stay at as my drive down was "hairy" to say the least! Suffice it to say, this was my first experience of how dangerous icy roads can be?! 8-(
Some of my students are joining in my consideration of the personal/private issues surrounding web presence and interaction. On the one hand, literature in the area of on-line teaching stresses the importance of establishing personal relationships before more serious issues of scholarship can be fully explored - and also the importance of maintaining on-going communication throughout a course.
On the other hand, there is also literature about the personality and learning styles, which tells us that many of the learners who choose DE do so because they are naturally more private personalities - & who therefore may not wish to take advantage of the social networking tools that are available to expand the communication opportunities in technology-supported learning environments of all kinds, including DE.

A third position relates to PLEs (Personal Learning Environments), learner-created learning space within which they accumulate the tools they prefer, and within which they interact with their instructors, learning materials from various sources, and with other learners - & which are also shaped by individual differences and learning styles. Some of these PLEs will then naturally encompass private individuals and more garrulous, sociable ones; and the tools they choose will vary according to this as much as any other aspect.

Another questions that then arises in my mind is: to what extent the literature on personality and learning style and interaction modes in DE has kept up with the rapid changes in affordances of technology for communication and interaction. This will surely be a question to introduce in the last Unit, when we discuss research in and about DE

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Teaching has begun!

What an exciting new week this is! Let me see:
  • I've moved into my new place,
  • teaching has begun,
  • my students have started to interact and post stuff on the forums
  • & we had about 15cm of snow last night!
So this morning before I could get to my Moodle site (but not before my email!) I had the new & interesting experience of shovelling snow?! I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon enough! I'll post again later when I have some of my photos from this morning loaded up - & when my neighbour emails me the one she took of my first snow-shovelling experience. :-)

So about 1/3 of my students have posted messages to the Welcome forum - hopefully more will later today & in the next few days. I guess it's pretty new to some of them, & it may take some time for them to get into the swing of it. I hope more of them start posting photos as being able to see who the person is - or at least what they look like - makes this whole distance interaction thing so much more personalized.

I think this balance between the personal and professional or educational is becoming more ricketty. While I recognize that some people prefer to remain private about who they are etc or to keep their private & professional or educational lives separate, I do believe that in order to make the most of any learning experience, we need to bounce our ideas off others & to get glimpses into the ways of thinking of others. And so I think that one of the best ways of doing this is by opening up ourselves and sharing our thoughts and approaches first - because, let's face it, most of us are reluctant to open up too much to other people. We don't want to be too vulnerable! Also, without the healthy disagreement of others with our ideas, how would we grow and develop as thinkers, as learners and as people? Ok - enough "sharing" for the moment, I think! Don't want to give
too much away :-)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Teaching will be starting soon & still so much to do & prepare?! I've seen my list of students' names now & I'm looking forward to getting to know them. I'm trying to think of ways to make the course more interactive and to help students & me to feel more a part of a group or class or community, while still allowing us all space to maintain our privacy. The balance between sharing and working independently is the dilemma ... ??

So I've posted links here to my Facebook space in the hope that my students will also do the same - those who want to share as part of a community, at least :-)