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Topic 5 – Lessons learnt

This was an interesting journey… I started off very confused as to where this fit into my everyday life and how this will actually benefit me. I was frustrated with the working in a group part, not to be able to participate in all meetings and webinars due to other commitments. It felt like I have let down my group. The only way I could contribute was to take part in the FISh model analysis and comment on presentations. And that is not me – to do things half way. If I do something it’s all or nothing. So that is something I had to make peace with. I guess that’s part of working in a group and especially in the online environment and when you live in different cities, not to say continents.

Learning about filter bubbles was quite interesting. Feels like way back. But I was still confused as to where it would fit into my work environment and be to the benefit of especially my students. Then we started with Sharing and Openness. And here is where I started to think about my own views in my work environment and my willingness to share and how open I really am to share my own material and work with others. It has been a challenging thought process that challenges me to think differently as it can be of mutual benefit to build a network of people willing to share.

I was introduced to “free” education. Where people are sharing resources and material to be used and copied. This is inspiring. At first I questioned the quality and credibility of these free courses. But then I realized that if institutions like Harvard University, the University of Queensland, University of Washington, etc are willing to share their resources surely they would not compromise on quality and credibility and put their reputation in jeopardy. So I enrolled for a few of these courses to check them out. Why reinvent the wheel. And then Topic 4 were introduced – Design for online and blended learning. And I could just see the connections between the “free” resources and designing and online course. I wrote a comprehensive blog on how to implement these connections. Very excited about it!

So I have learned a lot. Maybe it was so frustrating in the beginning because it was all new. But I love learning and I can certainly see opportunities for implementing this is my work environment for both myself, peers and students. And I really hope I get the opportunity to implement this.

Thanks to all who made it possible for us to join this course and to my PBL 7 group who I got the opportunity to learn from and with. And all the best for the future!

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Topic 4 – Creating an online course

Of all the blogs we had to write so far this one was, for me, by far the easiest. It is so practical and so relevant and I can so easily see how it can be implemented in my work environment.

I am a lecturer in the discipline of accounting. As professionals (Chartered Accountants), we belong to a professional body – the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). We are teaching students towards becoming CA’s. One of the requirements of SAICA in teaching students, is that we have to teach pervasive skills (of which one of them specifically is “communicates effectively and efficiently”). This should also include being proficient in IT software tools.

I am very excited about the Five Stage Model by Gilly Salmon (below) and how to combine this with a course to address the pervasive skills mentioned above. 

So this is my plan… We were introduced to all these websites with “free” courses of which, as mentioned in one of my previous blogs, www.edx.org was my favorite. I want to select one of these courses that address one or more of the pervasive skills and use that course outline and material to design a course according to the Five Stage Model above, online. The ONL162 course is a great example of how I would structure my course. I have selected one of the courses to illustrate as an example:

Course that I selected: Communicating Strategically

Topics included in this course:

  • Review communications skills
  • Help experts assess the value of communication and gain confidence in their abilities
  • Help professionals bridge the communication gap

(https://www.edx.org/course/communicating-strategically-purduex-pn-17-3)

The duration of course on edx.org is 5 weeks. Estimated time is 4-6 hours per week. The course is for FREE and material can be reused. The course material includes webinars and other reading material.

So my plan to implement the Five Stage Model of Salmon and apply it as follows…

1st Step: Access and Motivation

Here the students will get set up. Like with ONL162 they will have to create a blog on WordPress, be divided into groups and use G+ to communicate. Group meetings will be held on Hangouts. There will be a week for both step one and two. The “community” that we focus on is generation Z and they are very proficient in the online environment.

2nd Step: Online Socialization

As mentioned above, this will also happen in the 1st week where the groups will get to know each other, have their 1st meeting on Hangouts to introduce themselves to one another, share their blogs with one another, and they will have to write a blog on their experience of the 1st and 2nd step. Each group will also have a facilitator which will steer the group until they “get the hand of things”.

3rd Step: Information exchange:

This is where there will be focused on the 3 topics in the course structure above. Each individual will have to listen to the webinars and work through the material themselves. The information is “exchanged” from the course content on edx.org to the student.

4th Step: Knowledge construction:

Here students will have to work in their groups and talk about their findings. They will share with each other what they have learned, their different views on the content they have studied and how this would impact their work environment one day. They will then have to present this to the other groups, as a group presentation.

5th Step: Developments:

This is where the student will have to write a blog after each topic, including further research on the topic and reference thereto. This will ensure the further development of the student.

So this is the plan… hope I get the opportunity to implement this. Soooo excited!!

 

Reference to Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model: http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

 

 

 

Topic 3 – Understanding you community before creating it

While listening to this webinar I couldn’t help thinking about how important it is to actually understand your learning community first, before creating a teaching strategy for your learning community. I think understanding your learning community is key to identifying drivers for change.

The generation that we are teaching now, or transitioning to, is the generation born from 1996 onwards. Generation Z.

“Gen Z is part of a generation that is global, social, visual and technological. They are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever. They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they’re creating it. Gen Z’s have been born into the crisis period of terrorism, the global recession and climate change. They are predicted to spend their young adult years in a time of economic and social renewal. They are also living in an era of changing household structures, and are the students of today and university graduates, employees and consumers of tomorrow.” (http://generationz.com.au/characteristics/)

I also think of the 5 minute video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT2D-6-7kSk) that highlights some of the major changes that we are facing today, including the following:

  • The 10 top jobs in demand in 2010 did not exist in 2004
  • We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not exist
  • Today’s learner will have 10 to 14 jobs by the age of 38
  • For students starting a technical degree, half of what they learn in the 1st year of study will be outdated in their 3rd year of study.

To me, this is scary. And the scariest thing is – how can we adopt and integrate this ever changing world into our teaching and learning. And then I am looking at the Community of Inquiry Framework of Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000), which includes Social Presence, Cognitive Presence and Teaching Presence. And I realize that the context in which we have to look at this in today’s world is extremely important and ever changing for it to be relevant to the learner. ONL is a great example of what this could look like, I think.

Wish I had all the answers… 🙂

 

A reflection on Sharing and Openness

At first, I was thinking – of what quality can these free courses and material possibly be? I mean, it is for free. You cannot possibly spend enough time and energy to make this worth the while for the learner. Then I started doing some research on the various websites that were mentioned in the webinar. And I was fascinated by especially the edx.org website. The institutions providing the “free” courses and sharing their material, resources and content include Harvard University, University of Queensland Australia, University of Washington, Boston University and many more. How will these universities compromise on quality and credibility? It is impossible. So I enrolled for a few of these free courses and am fascinated by the openness and what they share. I am inspired!! To say the least. I realized that when you are willing to share with others in the academia, they might also become willing to share with you. The extent of openness these universities have, is amazing.

I think that I am very open in sharing my own work. But this within our institution with the various campuses around the country. It adds a lot of value to your own material when you get the input of others. I am wondering though… If you do decide to share with people outside of your institution whether this is not the intellectual property of your institution? Or maybe this is just an issue in South Africa. So I do think if you want to go this route it might be important to go through the right channels and make sure what you do is actually legal.

On another note… I started my own business where I aim to do corporate training throughout Africa. In this case I am however not willing to share as this is my income/money. And that might be how the institution feels, even though we (getting paid a salary) feel that we are willing to share, it affects the institution in a totally different way. So maybe I am not so open minded when it comes to sharing after all… But I think it would be helpful to build a network of people that would be willing to also share with me – this will encourage me to share.

I do think that this is a great marketing opportunity. To get out there and give people a “taster” of what you have to offer them. And this might be one of the reasons why institutions are doing this. However, once again, because this is for free, you might compromise on quality, which could damage your reputation and hence the risk/danger in sharing and openness.

A reflection of Topic 1

I was nominated to take part in this course right before it started. So I had no idea what to expect and I am still struggling to exactly figure out what the outcomes are. But I am sure it will be beneficial. So far I have been introduced to all kinds of new online tools. Some that I have never even heard of before. But I love change, so it is all very interesting and I am enjoying it. The challenge to me, however, is, I have not been able to figure out how I am going to use what I have learned so far as a part of my teaching and learning. Bearing in mind that I am in the accounting discipline. But… I am sure it will come as we progress into the course. Our School of Accounting is situated on multiple campuses across the country. And I think for communication purposes the tools that we have learnt so far might be very beneficial.

The most fascinating thing to me from the first topic was definitely the thing about the filter bubbles. According to Wikipedia: “A filter bubble is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_bubble)

This basically means that if I search a word, Eli Pariser used the example of the word “Egypt” in his video on filter bubbles, on the internet, and someone else searches the exact same word, we will not get the same search results. The reason for that being our location, search history, even the type of device we are searching from. This means that I will only see what this algorithm thing thinks I want to see and agree with. It’s like only wanting to be around people you like and hearing stuff you believe in.

I don’t know about you, but I do not only want to receive information that I like and that I agree with, I want to receive information that will challenge my beliefs. So now the problem is – what can I do about this? I came across this website (http://www.niemanlab.org/2012/07/are-we-stuck-in-filter-bubbles-here-are-five-potential-paths-out/) that suggests five potential paths out of filter bubbles. Very interesting. Not all of them are things that we can do ourselves, but there are two things we can do – 1) we can stop speculating and start looking and we can 2) figure out what we really want. So I guess if we really use the internet to gain information and not only for playing around, and if we are being really specific in terms of what we need, we can side-step this filter bubble. I hate being trapped!! It will be my challenge to get out of it – accepted!!

Resident or visitor?

I have been thinking about the whole resident vs visitor concept… Without really thinking about it I would have classified myself as a resident. I was kind of arrogant thinking I know a lot about social media, online stuff. I have been exposed to a lot of this before.

But in the past 2 weeks I have had to deal with a whole lot of new tools and I have heard and read about so many more that I didn’t even know existed.

So if I have to classify myself in my personal life I will probably say that, yes – I can call myself a resident. But from an institutional point of view a whole new world is opening up at the moment. And I hope that in the next few weeks to unfold I will learn about a whole lot of new tools that I can add to the grid. But also that I will learn what would be best suitable to maybe rather keep in the visitor’s block and what to move over to the resident block to improve the “product” that I present to my students, yet still keep it professional.

 

Exciting times!!

Looking forward to learning and collaborating in new and exciting ways!

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