Friday, 12 February 2016

Web Based Learning and Teaching #1: Cool course - cool ways to start a course

I have just started a formal blended learning MA module: Web Based Learning and Teaching for my professional development. I love my MOOCs – but occasionally I also enjoy the shape and feel of a formal course. I enjoy being with real live human beings in a classroom. I love the buzz of real conversation – and I am always fascinated by seeing how other people organise the teaching and learning – the bonding and belonging…

The course itself is delivered by JG and JD (I must check with them before I use their names on the web) – and they delivered a wonderful experience which made me as a participant feel welcomed, enabled and confident that I understood the course and its assignments; that I would be supported if I struggled; that I had an idea about my personal direction through the course; and, most importantly, that I was excited – I wanted to do this thing! I also spotted some lovely strategies that they used to help me on this journey:
Ice Breaker
There was a brief ice breaker activity where we were asked to sit with somebody that we did not know – share our contexts and reasons for doing the course – and then to introduce that person back to the rest of the class.  Immediately most of us had to move around – had to attempt human contact with at least one person – and then had to make contact with the rest of the group. Simple, friendly – effective.
Hopes and fears
After an introduction to the what, why and how of the course, we were given a green, red and yellow post-it – and asked to write our positive thoughts about TEL (technology enhanced learning); our concerns about TEL; and our hopes for the course. We stuck these to the whiteboard at the front of the class (we had both electronic and conventional whiteboards) – the tutors read them out… and we responded.
I thought this an excellent way to enable people to voice their hopes and fears without having to make themselves immediately vulnerable. If we wanted to, we could ‘own’ a point – or we could just join in with the discussion…
Finally I am feeling…
To round off the class JG said, ‘I am feeling…’ – and pointed to a participant – who completed the sentence: I am feeling excited by the course, I already have an idea what I want to do for my presentation and my project; I am feeling …
Overall the feelings were full of excitement and optimism – but we were also empowered to say if we were worried or afraid.
I am stealing these immediately!
So what is WBLT?
We will be building our own course on course site: - a free online service offered by BlackBoard – to experience the process of designing and building a managed, virtual learning environment. We have to give a presentation on one new tool or TEL-enabled strategy that we have trialled with volunteer ‘students’, we will have to complete a reflective journal – and we will have to write a 3000 word meta-reflection. All good stuff – and I will hope to tinker with the final essay and offer it for publication somewhere – so that is an additional bonus.
And finally
I prepared for WBLT by engaging with Hybrid Pedagogy’s #moocmooc: - which I also enjoyed enormously… but which I could not give sufficient time to because of my heavy workload. I am hoping that the added gravity of a physical course will anchor me and make sure that I actually do all the work – all the assignments…
Here’s hoping.
I thought that I would blog about my journey through WBLT – because that’s the best way I know to make the learning conscious to me. It would be great if some of you out there followed me – gave me some tips and tricks – asked me some stuff to get me thinking harder.
Best, Sandra-on-the-web

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