Monday, 19 May 2014

#ocTEL Into a routine

I've been settling into ocTEL and a routine of only dipping into what I need to (and can realistically achieve)

I realised quite quickly that as I'm at an early stage of my career in Learning Technology I don't have the same practice experience that others do, or much knowledge of methods and strategies and frameworks, but it's been really interesting to 'eavesdrop' on some of the discussions in the forums and elsewhere.

I think one of the tricky things to deal with (for me anyway) on an open and less structured course like this is the feeling of "being behind". With so much to read and posts continually coming in, I've had to constantly remind myself that it's ok to stop reading and take time to review what I've learned and think reflectively (and critically).

The 'badges' on offer are a great incentive, but at the same time I need to remind myself that not necessarily achieving every single one is ok too :)

Over the last week I enjoyed looking at the Pre-Course Questionnaires, and thinking critically about my own readiness and approach to learning.

I initially chose this questionnaire, as it seemed to be more in-depth than some, and offered more choices than just yes or no:

University of Houston - Distance Education

Although I scored highly on the computer skills areas, I ended up in the 'almost there' category, which I suppose was something of a surprise. Perhaps I was being cautious with my answers, or perhaps (more likely) I genuinely do need to work on preparing for any online learning I might do. Certainly it's been some time since I did any serious study myself, so I'm sure there are some "academic skills" I could do with brushing up on. So, in a way, that outcome has been a positive one, as it's made me take some time to reflect on this and work out how to improve these skills.

I like the idea that a pre-course questionnaire can be for the benefit of both the institution (to gain an insight into the capabilities and potential needs of students-to-be) but also for the potential student (to give them constructive suggestions and pointers about which areas they might need to pay extra attention)

I suppose what struck me most overall was that the questionnaires could easily have been tweaked (and only slightly!) to apply to 'traditional' on-campus courses. I wonder how many Colleges and Universties take into account things like IT literacy, independent study skills and time management skills when preparing to admit undergraduates or postgraduates to face to face courses?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

#ocTEL Week 0 thoughts

Over the next couple of months I'm going to attempt to flout all the basic laws of time and space by participating in the Open Course for Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL), run by the nice people at the Association for Learning Technology.

ocTEL logo

I participated in the second run of the EDCMOOC last November and although I enjoyed it, I found it hard to keep up with all the various discussions and diversions and groups that formed and morphed and spread out.

Perhaps I relied a bit too much on Twitter. It's very easy to get disheartened when everyone seems so far ahead in their thinking, and I think Twitter heightened this feeling for me. (For some reason, right from the get-go, EVERYONE seems to be much further advanced on Twitter!)

I found it interesting just how much my perception of my own progress and accomplishment relied on interaction and feedback from others. Getting a comment on a blog post seemed to validate it, somehow, whereas a post or a tweet that went seemingly unnoticed was really disheartening. Obviously in course with such a huge membership there's no way to guarantee interaction, but when the whole premise of the cMOOC relies on connectivity and peer-learning - and on each participant being brave and putting stuff out there into the big wide webby world - it's bound to be disheartening when silence is the result.

I did find myself considering giving up on the EDCMOOC before the last couple of weeks when I got my teeth into the practical element of creating the final assessment piece, and this spurred me on to complete the course.

This time, I hope that setting some learning goals will help - both to reduce the pressure I put on myself, but also to keep me focused on getting what I want out of the experience.

I also like the idea of forming small groups for reflection and discussion, in order to keep things manageable.

Activity 0.1 Big and Little questions

I'm not sure I have one 'Big Question' I'm looking to find answers or ideas about. I'm still at an early stage in my career in Learning Technology, so I feel I have lots of listening and reading to do. That might seem like a cop-out!

I suppose if I had to pick one area of particular interest, it would be around video and audio, and creating media content in and around TEL. That's quite a wide area, but by that I would include opportunities for collaborative work on such content, perhaps in innovative ways over the web - perhaps I'll blog about this later.