Friday, April 20, 2012

Online Learning Event

The next phase of our course requires us to plan for an online event of our choosing. We were asked to choose a method which we are not so familiar with and which would stretch our learning and experiences. Our focus is to be on various themes we have been studying in relation to effective online pedagogy such as online presence, maintaining interest/participation, social presence, tools to support pedagogy, roles of facilitators etc.
I faced a series of dilemmas when embarking on this assignment. One being, where do you start with something like this when you don't really know your cohort? How do I pitch to a group of people I don't know and will they be interested in the topic I choose. I spent ridiculous hours researching the topic of digital stories as it is relevant to my area and critiquing whether it would be a useful topic to my fellow students. In trying to construct a well designed event I tried to incorporate ideas put forward by Garrison and Anderson (2003) in relation to categories of social presence to break down barriers of alienation in an online environmentand how that can encourage participants to engage in higher order thinking and deeper level of discussion and analysis of material.
How do I foster a community of Inquiry (Garrison and Anderson 2003) which has so many benefits in terms of participants learning from others? Garrison and Anderson (2003) point out that communities of inquiry promote exploratory, organised, critical and rich thinking. This is the kind of result I am hungry for in my online learning event but when previous experience shows that participants in the course are fairly reluctant to post to discussion forums, it leaves me looking for an alternative method of running an effective learning event. I see amazing results of communities of inquiry in the use of Twitter. I'd love a Twitter feed as a part of this uni course - that way I can get immediate feedback and be challenged by the journey my fellow students are on and better still, I may be able to support them in their learning journey. I joined Twitter as way of expanding my PLN and to satisfy my thirst for knowledge - I have grown immensely from the community of sharing between participants. The participants in Twitter are willing participants...they want to be a part of a community, they are not participating because it will award them a mark at the end. This too is essential for our students and the activities we construct to engage them and to encourage the deeper level, critical thinking that they require for life.
The best outcome of this task so far? That I have a clearer picture of the dilemmas students face each day. I have a clearer idea of the stress they endure when they don't understand. I'm challenged to ensure learnign experiences are engaging, relevant, challenging and innovative. Let go of the control a little and let them lead, facilitate more and be clear about what outcome we want to achieve.



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