#edcmooc

IMG_1509crop

Well, I have taken the plunge and signed up to a Coursera online course called Elearning and Digital Cultures.  I actually signed up back in November but the reality of it has only set in now that I have had a welcoming email, joined the edcmooc FB page, Google+ page and started tweeting with the edcmooc hashtag.  Reading the posts on FB and G+ I have started to feel a little overwhelmed and hope that I am not going to be out of my depth. 

It is a busy time of year here too – the start of a new school year and I have a lot to do to get ready for my classes as well as for the other areas for which I am responsible. Two school camps to get through this term so there is tons of paperwork for that although the time away, once we actually get there, is always great fun and definitely worth the hard work needed to get there.

One of my reasons for wanting to do this course is because I am the “IT Teacher Coach” at my school. It is a strange role and the story of my having it is complicated, but essentially I am available 7 hours over 6 days (we have a strange timetable!) to help my colleagues with using technology.  I have no formal qualifications and am definitely not a tech geek ( I leave that to the IT support team – they do the fixing and trouble shooting!) but developed a passion for using computer technology with my classes back in the 1990s when I had challenging French classes which consisted mainly of boys.  It was an attempt to find some way of reaching them and catching their attention so that I could sneak some French language into them without them really noticing! 

My role has metamorphosed, but I still have the official title “IT Teacher Coach”, and I still spend a lot of my time helping teachers with basic “nuts and bolts” of how to do stuff on email, how to insert images in docs, how to do stuff on the SMARTboard, how to use Google Docs etc. However,  I am finding that, as I and a few other teachers experiment with different ways of teaching and learning with our students using online activities, more and more of our colleagues are gaining in confidence and wanting to try things out too.  So I have spent more time helping and them to do that. 

This year our school theme is “Connected”, the whole focus of our Professional Development is on Blended Learning and I am one of the leaders for that.  We are still finding our way, and I am sure it is going to be one that we stumble our way along but it is surely going to be an interesting journey and we will learn from our mistakes. 

Hopefully this course will help me see the way a little more clearly, or maybe, as is often the case when there is so much information bombarding you, the waters will initially be even more muddied?! Nevertheless, I am excited to be on the expdition, nervous about taking the first few steps but eager to set off.

Procrastination….

Wooden Brick Letter F Stencil Letter O letter N Magnetic letter F

I created this “Spell with Flickr” word to use as an image for my Learnist learning board on TBLT (Task Based Language Teaching).  Why did I decide to create a Learnist board on TBLT?  Because, of course, I have real work to do that I don’t really want to apply myself to! I have almost (no, not really) convinced myself that because the Learning board is about TBLT that I am really working.  I have a presentation to do next Friday (21st September) on the report that is due in the first week of October.  I also have a presentation to do to the BOT on elearning in my school, and 140 medical forms to process for the outdoor education camp that I am organising in Tongariro National Park in November.  You can see why I am creating Learnist boards!

So what does FONF mean?  Better go and have a look at my board!

Passive consumers or active producers?

Learning and teaching should not start with the embracing of new technologies, but rather it is a matter of contextualising the learning first before supporting it with technology  from Wikipedia

I have been looking at the results of the elearning survey that we conducted with our teaching staff which are interesting, although not necessarily surprising. One of the things that seemed to stand out to me as that as a group  we are all quite comfortable with the use of technologies.  Many of us may not see the technologies that we use as being relevant in a classroom context.  However, if you know how to program your video recorder/Freeview box/Sky thingummabob to record a programme that you want to watch that is on at the same time as another that you want to watch, you are far ahead of me. (we don’t even have a video recorder/freeview/sky thingy!) If you can do that, or programme your washing machine or set the timer on your oven, book a holiday online or shop online, or set your Navman to take you to that bijou restaurant in Auckland, then you have skills that you can transfer to a learning context.  Making that step depends on your motivation and also an understanding of how it might benefit the learners in your classroom.

We were all quite confident and deemed ourselves competent at using a variety of tools – Word, Excel, PPT.  I know that many people create excellent worksheets and presentations for their students. I am sure that as you have perfected your skills using these tools you have become more confident and your worksheets/presentations have improved and become more engaging for students and more effective learning resources.  I know that I also have learned a lot about my subjects through creating my own resources.  Lots of the other things though, the ones we are less confident about, we are using in a mainly passive way – we upload resources to Dionet reasonably confidently but few teachers are creating interactive tasks in classroom pages.  We show videos, but do we create them? We show videos but what do we expect the students to do whilst they are viewing them or once they have viewed them – is it a passive experience or an interactive one? We give them a worksheet but does it provide opportunities for collaboration, for reflection, for co-construction, for interaction?  Research has shown, and we all know this anyway from our own experience, that for learners to really learn, for them to exercise and develop deeper thinking skills, they need to be actively engaged in the learning process, they need to interact, collaborate, co-construct, take ownership of their learning.  Just as important though is the opportunity both during and after a task or a unit of work to reflect on what they have done, how they have done it, what they have learned and what they could do the next time to improve.

So, where to from here? I believe that if we are to encourage our students to take the step to being independent, critical thinkers, if we are to help them develop the lifelong learning skills to cope in the 21st Century, if we want them to take ownership of their learning, then we have to do the same.  It’s not going to be easy – the biggest challenge cited in the elearning survey for our teachers was the lack of time to practise skills and to gain confidence using them, but even more people said that they were excited and keen to embrace the opportunities that BYOD offered for teaching and learning. Let’s take up the challenge!

Just got sidetracked! Found these links that talk about the Learning Continuum and the relative merits of Formal Learning, Non-Formal learning and Informal Learning.  So much to think about it’s scary!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7UF6Kf7Ts0

Informal Learning