The Online Teacher

Could it be that sometimes a change of approach and a new perspective is what we really need?

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The #ETMOOC topic this week has been Connected/Networked Learning, and I find myself on the verge of info/sensory-overload … not because I’ve had difficulty filtering and focusing on topics of interest or relevance (OK, maybe I have), but because I’ve participated in a variety of information-rich sessions, and now I find myself needing ‘quiet-time’ to process and synthesize all the garnered information. For me, this time is necessary to assimilate ideas and put my learning into practice. Could it be that my learning style is not well-suited to MOOCs, including the inevitable rapid speed chat and the massive number of participants? Or, since I’m new to MOOC-ing, perhaps I need more time to process my thoughts, or … the list goes on. Whatever it is, I find myself needing a ‘reading break’ –  ironic, because I consider myself good at multi-tasking (although research tends to substantiate that this is an illusion for most people), and I’m used to implementing change at a rapid pace (there’s nothing like having Moodle upgrades, course updates/changes, etc., while teaching a large number of students). However, this educational experience is different. There is a smorgasbord of material being offered free of charge, and I’m trying to discover the best way to digest the material.

My experience has taught me that stepping back from a situation or problem sometimes brings clarity, and yet this appears to be contradictory to the approach of Connected/Networked Learning. So, taking a break from pondering the “to MOOC or not to MOOC” question, I find myself looking at an #ETMOOC orientation message from Alec Couros, and as usual I am re-inspired by reading the following advice:

  • MOOCs are overwhelming, for everyone, no matter what your experience is with networked learning.
  • There are processes and tools that you can use to filter and curate the vast amounts of information being created and shared, but that’s not the only approach or focus for sense and meaning-making.
  • Connecting with even a few other participants in a MOOC while creating deeper relationships – relationships that last beyond the experience itself – are successes often associated with MOOCs and other forms of networked learning.

Finally, I catch the tweet of Glenn Hervieux ‏@SISQITMAN in the Twitter feed beside the orientation message. Glenn has shared an ‪#Educon slide presentation by ‪@joycevalenza on Digital Curation; a topic I am trying to learn more about. Ironic, isn’t it? Suddenly it dawns on me … this is what Connected/Networked Learning is all about – learning with others through the sharing of ideas, information, and resources, and information finding you when you least expect it! Could it be that sometimes a change of approach and a new perspective is what we really need? Perhaps … to MOOC is the answer!

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11 thoughts on “Could it be that sometimes a change of approach and a new perspective is what we really need?

  1. I appreciate your thoughtful reflection here, as I share your feeling of needing some time to process things. I have begun to relate this feeling to Clay Shirky’s comment (I believe it was his) that our experience of being overwhelmed on the Web is not so much about too much information as about too little filtering. So I like the serendipity of happening upon a connection with someone who could provide a resource you have been seeking. That certainly is much more manageable as an approach.

    • Thanks, Rosemary. I think you may have a title for another blog: “The Serendipity of happening upon a connection.” This captures the situation perfectly! It’s nice to know that my feelings are shared by others, and I appreciate your feedback. Thanks again!

  2. I really like what you are discussing about being overwhelmed by the Mooc experience. I have to say, I’m right there with you. However, I have to admit, it’s really great practice for me to see what it must be like to be a brand new OL student. I became an OL teacher without ever having the experience of being an OL student. Of course, I did trainings, but not as an undergrad or graduate student. This is a valuable lesson for me. Thanks for sharing! I’ll follow you as a fellow ETMOOCer.
    Cheers!

    • I was thinking the exact same thing! My experience is much like yours, so it is terrific to view the educational journey from a student perspective. Learning in the open certainly helps us to understand how brave and confident many students must be. I feel it should almost be a prerequisite for all OL teachers to join a course/community such as this. Thanks for your feedback! It’s always great to hear from others. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this! I, too, share your feelings of being overwhelmed by the MOOC experience. I am a reflector by nature and need lots of time to process information individually and/or in small groups. I needed to be reminded that this is ok! We all know that no student is like another, and that is not going to change just because we are interacting in a connected/networked learning environment such as ETMOOC. However, despite feeling overwhelmed, I do also think that to MOOC is the answer! There is so much to explore and discover… in my case, I’m sure the time for reflection will make my sharing all that much more meaningful to those who are interested.

    • Thank you so much for your feedback, and it’s nice to know you feel the same way. We seem to have a similar learning style (as you state, “… reflector by nature”), so I suspect our experience and the way we journey through ETMOOC will be similar, and yet quite different from those with other learning styles. I’m guessing we will explore a few areas, perhaps deeply, while others may manage to cover a broader range of topics and materials. The nice thing about social media is that others can help to draw attention to great resources and readings that we may otherwise miss. But then again, we may amaze ourselves by the end of the MOOC! 🙂

  4. Hi Fenella. I hadn’t visited your blog this week, so I had it on my radar for this weekend. I started working on some applications for several schools in my area for federal telecom. discounts that require a lot of focused energy, and I just feel “brain weary”, so I decided to give my brain a vacation of sorts from ETMOOC this weekend. I took your advice, ” My experience has taught me that stepping back from a situation or problem sometimes brings clarity, and yet this appears to be contradictory to the approach of Connected/Networked Learning.” I think I need to spend a little more time processing and absorbing a little less information. I have appreciated your kind words and encouragement.

    I watched your “Introduction” again to help refresh my memory of the roles you play – one of which is a distance learning teacher. I wonder how you work with students? Does your distance learning program have a website I could visit? We’ve just started this year with some blended/stand alone online courses. One teacher does some “live” sessions with her students where they can take the mic and interact with her. Do you do something similar? Hope you have enjoyed your weekend in BC. Talk to you more soon, Fenella.

    • Hi Glenn. I’m not surprised you needed to rest this weekend, as you’ve been extremely active in ETMOOC. Every time I looked at my filters, your name appeared with some sort of useful information or thoughtful comment and question. In a sense, I learned through your hard work. 🙂 Thank you for graciously sharing! I hope you now feel reenergized and ready to absorb and process more ETMOOC sessions.

      As for your question about my role as a DL teacher (did you notice I updated the last slide on the video, thanks to a session we had that discussed CC attribution?), it is a role which is still evolving. Our school (North Coast Distance Education School: http://www.ncdes.ca) moved to the online delivery of courses using Moodle in September of 2011, although we used Collaborate and other online tools prior to this time. Collaborate and Skype are still used for interaction with students. The process has been both challenging and exciting; however, the lessons learned through the process of moving from paper-based courses to the online environment is another conversation! It sounds like your school district is taking the right approach by moving gradually in measured steps. Thanks again for the feedback, Glenn. Have a good week and learn lots for us!

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