Posted by: lindapemik | October 2, 2010

Reflections on Week 2

September 28 It is almost time for our third class—tonight in fact, and I am still trying to process the information presented in week 2. Guess what? Reality has set in..I am no longer on holdays; I am back in Nunavut, back at work with all that means in terms of balancing family and work and travel obligations. And I no longer have access to high speed internet services. The speed and efficiency of on-line connections in most of Nunavut is not quite the same as my experiences in southern Canada. I did manage to connect easily however to the Elluminate class last Tuesday night, September 21, but the speed of the connection limited my ability to interact with my classmates. I could however see and hear the presentations and questions of others very well so did not mind very much that I couldn’t chat. To be honest I don’t really like chatting during class I am too busy hanging on to the words and instructions of our prof, Alec Couros. That desire to be fed knowledge surprises me because I am not a strong proponent of one-way teaching….in fact I criticize the traditional lecture mode quite openly and constantly look for ways to encourage instructors at the College to experiment with innovative ways to engage learners. I think I am gaining new insight into students who don’t want to be challenged to become active learners—it is so much easier to let the experts tell you what they think you need to know. Don’t get me wrong, though, ECI831 is not one those courses. The Elluminate broadcast is just one of many tools for creating the learning environment. We are strongly encouraged to learn by doing and experimenting, and to create a learning community where we can dialogue with others. I definitely feel that I am being provided with the opportunity to make personal meaning out of the curriculum.  What ideas would you instructors offer about  how to engage learners in class, especially approaches that can be incorporated into on-line learning?  and what does student engagement look like for learners with different learning styles? I was very impressed by  Michael Wesch and the innovative ways that he engages university students in learning.  I highly recommend that you view the video, Portal to Media Literacy recommended on our class wiki.  In this video lecture we are challenged as instructors to create significance for learning in our classrooms—and to create a learning enviroment that leverages and harnesses the intelligence of the students. In using social media as tools for learning he also reminds us that most of our students’ experiences with social media have been in the realm of entertainment. It is the instructor’s job to push them beyond Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, etc and provide platforms for participation in learning that help them learn to use social media in new ways—to learn and be co-creators of knowledge. He seems to have been able to do this quite effectively and moved beyond the “just tell me what’s going to be on the exam” mentality to fostering active collaborative learning in his classes.  Now that is an admirable achievement! This week has also shed some light on my concerns about how to manage the huge volumes of information that is available through the web. I am still working on trying to set up my Google Reader account.  found the “settings”  menu and at least figured out how to get rid of those annoying automatic subscriptions!  Now it is on to learning how to add RRS feeds. I was going to work on that tonight but unfortunately the hotel WiFi is lousy and I can’t connect. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my blog and a special thanks to those who posted. I hope some of you will drop into our class in the next few months and take advantage of the open learning environment.  If you can’t make the live feed on Tuesday nights you can always access the recording on the ECI831 Class wiki and view it whenever you can. You can find the link to the Elluminate class by going to the “weekly schedule” , selecting the week and scrolling down. For the record:  The barriers that I am encountering will not put me off however because I really want to learn more and am determined to keep at it until I feel comfortable with using the tools available on the web.  I expect that my connectivity challenges will be overcome when we complete the cyberinfrastructure project at our College in March 2011.Then we at Arctic College can really get serious about e-learning.  For any college folk reading this who have experience in building capacity to deliver on-line learning, I’d love to hear about how you encouraged and supported faculty and learners to adopt “new”  ways of learning and teaching.

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Responses

  1. I really liked you post and I agree about Michael Wesch video. I found that he is someone who really takes care of joining students life as well as drawing them to his life. I think we as educators understand that it’s two way process between students and teachers. And that’s what he did. He joined their world and taught them how to benefit from these easy tools in what severs education.

    • You have picked up a critical point here Ola, when you say “he joined their world”! Teachers who seek to find out from students what they think, as he did when he sought feedback from them about their thoughts on their learning environment, are in a better position to plan appropriate learning environments that are adapted to the students needs. This is a critical skill for many of our instructors who often bring a different cultural perspective into the classroom where the majority of our students are Inuit and most of the instructors are not.

  2. Thank you for looking for and encouraging innovative and interactive methods of teaching at the University level. One of the challenges that I face with my Grade 7/8 students and their parents is justifying my Inquiry and Project based pedagogy (to those that resist it) when there is a serious disjoint with high school and university. I find it very frustrating that I work hard to make my kids critical and independent thinkers in school and then when they enter high school and later university, they go back to lecture style. Keep encouraging your colleges and know that someone out there really appreciates it!

    • I share your frustration Danielle…why is it that so many of us fall back into teaching the way we were taught, even though we may know theoretically that there are better ways? I must admit I am guilty of that from time to time; and we have to acknowledge that it may take more time to use more innovative approaches to teaching. The rewards are great however and well worth the effort. I have a feeling though that if you and your colleagues in middle school keep on with project based learning with your students we may see the students themselves demanding different approaches when they get to the higher grades.

  3. Hi, Linda. I really sympathize with your doubts, anxiety, but the willingness to give that step forward into teaching/learning. I can feel the excitement of your own achievements with RSS/RSS reader. I remember mine when I got started some years ago, and still get excited when I learn something totally new, or a new trick that I can apply in my language classrooms here in Brazil.

    You asked about engagement, right? I guess that the first step to it is qualifying ourselves and I don’t mean it simply formally, but also informally in a networked space like the one Alec Couros is creating for all of us. By daring and trying out things with like-minded people, we’ll feel more at ease to do things differently with our own students or in our professional realm. I think that engagement really starts when you give voice, you let students discover, you surprise them. If you keep reproducing what they’ve been doing for years, then there’s no way out, they disconnect and find something more exciting to do, to see, to experience.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Sorry to hear about the connectivity problems. I know it’s a very different world of connectivity where you are – but, actually Elluminate is one of the better web-conferencing tools, so I’m happy it’s ‘sort of’ working for you. And of course, as you say, you can always access the recordings which should be solid.

    Your point on the backchannel (chat) – many people feel the same way you do, especially if they have not experienced it before. I know in my own experience, because I have done so many web conferences – people tend to like it after a while, especially if they are more familiar with the subject matter. I know it’s much more difficult for those wanting to pay attention to some of the fine details of a presentation. Just remember, you can always just ignore it and use it only if you need clarification or want to make points or ask questions.

    • Hi Alec, the difficulties I am experiencing getting and staying connected are really a reminder to me that we must be thoughtfully selective about the educational technology we choose to incorporate into our classrooms-both physical and virtual. I expect that if you were teaching this class for a group of students who all had bandwidth issues, you might modify your tool selection process. Just as we as teachers don’t teach to the lowest common denominator, I don’t expect you to change anything that you are doing to accommodate me…I am stubbornly committed to making this work for me in spite of my connectivity challenges. (It took me 4 hours by the way to download and listen to last week’s recording and I ran out of patience at about 1h.09 min!) I have learned so much already in just a few weeks in spite of my challenges. Thank you for providing the opportunity. On a different note I was following your discussion with Lisa M about the limitations of blogs and the idea of creating a class forum. I have no idea what platform to suggest but support the idea of having a “class space”; the house party as opposed to dropping off individual calling cards to extend Lisa’s metaphor.


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