I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as part of this class and I feel I am walking away from it with a much higher level of confidence surrounding the broad wide world of Web 2.0. I feel I have a greater understanding of the potentialities of Web 2.0 to enhance learning and instruction and I’m excited to have learned how to utilize a number of tools that I’m already incorporating into my teaching and learning. A synopsis of the best tools I’ve found and used this semester can be found here at this blog post I wrote earlier in the semester.

I am also really glad to be taking this course on the heels of the EC&I 831 course I took the previous semester with Alec Couros. In that class I was introduced to Web 2.0 and a variety of open education and social learning models but it was in this course that I was able to expand upon these initial forays and to really “dig my hands (and tools) into the sand.”

I’ve learned that online instruction can be a totally immersive way to learn, that learner to learner interactions can be terrifically beneficial to the process and that a great deal of depth can be experienced by learners and instructors alike. I’ve always been more of a loner type, honestly, even though I appear to most to be outgoing. Inside me is a more quiet and sometimes shy person that most people wouldn’t guess to live beneath the surface. I’ve come out of that shell to a large degree during these online classes and I’ve learned so very much from sharing with my peers and reading about their experiences, successes and challenges alike.

I will most definitely be keeping this blog going (though I won’t set “deadlines” for myself honestly… I want to enjoy this process and not have it be mandatory participation or anything) and I will visit other’s blogs too in order to keep the ties I’ve made flourishing. I’m playing around with ideas of how to incorporate more learner-learner interactions in the online courses I’m developing and delivering for my college. It’s a challenge though because the course delivery method doesn’t lend itself naturally to these sorts of interactions. The courses I teach are 100% asynchronously delivered and there is a continuous intake, so assigning students to groups won’t work. I’ve started with the inclusion of some Forum discussions in each course and requiring students to post their thoughts, opinions, etc. to them and then comment on 2 other points of view, regardless of whether or not that student is still registered in the class or not. Then I work as a moderator to try to keep the conversations flowing. It’s early yet to know if this is beneficial for students or not, but I’ll persist in it!

There are lots of other changes I’ve made to my course delivery this semester as well. For example, the inclusion of the orientation Moodle module will ease things quite a bit (see the blog post explaining this project here). Already I’ve had a number of students opt out of a personalized session and they’ve given me some positive comments about the orientation process. They like the fact that it’s available 24/7 if they have any questions and the inclusion of the Jing screen captures is handy as well.

I’m also excited because I’ve gained knowledge on how to pursue PD online as a result of this course. I don’t need to travel in order to learn new things or to network with other professionals in the field. This is a tremendous comfort to me, especially since I could be making an overseas change of address in the next couple of years. I love the just-in-time availability of professional development opportunities. With a simple search or a well-placed Twitter, I can have a host of PD opportunities pop up on my screen. I totally love that flexibility.

In short… I’ve learned so much and even now, after completing 5 years of course work toward my Master’s degree, I still feel as though I’m a newcomer into the sandbox in a lot of ways. I really love that there is so much to learn about all of the time. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to practice some online networking skills that will see me through all of the challenges and exciting possibilities that still lie ahead of me. Thank you, one and all for all of your support and know that you have mine in return 🙂

Talk to you all soon in the days, weeks, and (hopefully) years to come!

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Hello Everyone!

It’s hard for me to believe that today is the last day of the EC&I 831 course. Well. At least it is for the credit portion anyway. I do plan to drop in on future classes with Alec when he teaches this class again in the future (and please do so, Alec. This course is far too valuable not to repeat it for others, and as I say, I will certainly benefit by coming back and attending sessions from time to time). So much has happened in the last 3 or so months and so much has been learned and it’s difficult to try to explain the paradigm shifts and the new ways of thinking and broadened perspective I’ve gained. I’ll do my best anyway 🙂

My initial expectations/hopes:

When I began this course in September I was really only looking for a credit. I am nearing the end of my degree now and the road to completion has been long and convoluted for me, with some personal twists and turns (such as an ugly divorce that is taking far to long to finish) that have thrown some roadblocks in my way.  So truly, when I chose EC&I 831 I did so because it was an online class that I could do while remaining at home with my daughter. I was thrilled to see it was Alec who was instructing. I’d had the pleasure of meeting Alec a couple of times at Tlt summit conferences so that was another bonus. As far as what I expected to learn, I wasn’t entirely sure, though I had attended Alec’s session on open and social media tools at the Tlt summit and now that I reflect on this course and that presentation session, there were many overlaps.

What I learned:

There are many many things I have learned this semester. One of the most valuable lessons I think I’ll take away from this class is that I will never learn it all. And that is OK. One image that stuck with me is this one:

The idea that technology is  a coursing river and that we are standing on it’s banks watching the rushing water rage past. I have my cup in my hand and I dip it in when I am ready, drinking my fill and then turning away when I’ve had enough. I’ve learned I don’t need to dive headlong into the rapids and drown. I can satisfy my thirst and my technological needs one cup at a time. This idea is  a very valuable thing for me to take in and absorb really. I’ve always been one of those overachieving types who always puts a ton of pressure on herself to be the best, to do as much as I can no matter what it is I’m doing and while that sort of attitude isn’t necessarily terrible to have, it can and does sometimes result in an undue amount of stress. I will learn more if I relax and allow myself to absorb things at my own pace. I have felt during this course that I’ve been allowed and encouraged to do that. It’s an attitude I consciously try to encourage for my learners as well. I’m fortunate as an instructor in that my students set their own pace in the online courses they take with me.

There are all sorts of other things I have learned and there are things I will continue to develop for the future. I’ll summarize them here in this list:

  • Blogging: I’d heard of blogging prior to this course but I never really understood what it was all about or how it could be valuable for me as a professional habit and practice. I’m a very introspective reflective sort of person so blogging really is a wonderful way to formalize and solidify my thoughts. I fully intend to keep on blogging long after this course is done. I do blog on another site as well, but it’s more of an entertainment forum than an educative one, though I have learned lots there as well, just in a different context. It’s far less formal than something like this blog. I have also incorporated Forums and postings for my Psychology students to respond to in their courses, even though all of the students work asynchronously from one another. I’m hoping that just seeing what others thoughts are on different issues will spark thoughts of their own, even if the students are at different places on their learning paths.
  • Wikis: I created my Adult Basic Education Integration Wiki as my final cumulative project for this class and it’s not done. But what wiki ever is? I will continue to add things to it, polish things already added and encourage others to join and contribute. I’ve learned to do many different things in wikis and I’m just starting to see their potential as a means to share student work and celebrate learning successes. That is a direction I’d like to head into for the future too. I’d love to create a wiki to use with my online students as a part of their learning, to have them contribute to it and post their projects and so on. It’s a goal I’ll work toward down the road here.
  • Various online tools: There were so many different online tools for enhancing student work, for enriching my classroom as well as establishing my own personal and professional network, it’s hard to list them all here. I have a page on my wiki though that does a bit of that and I’ve linked it here. There are so many tools out there and so much to play with and explore. I’ve just started really. The ones I love the most are the Xtranormal video creation, YouTube and Wordle.

Favorite class sessions:

While there were SO many wonderful presentations and I did learn an immense amount about technology and how to best implement social learning activities into my day-to-day practices, there are a few that stick out in my mind as being especially memorable. They include:

  • New media literacies & Internet Blocking: This was by far the best post of my blog, I felt. I had struggled for a long time to frame and articulate what my beliefs were surrounding the thorny issue of how much trust and accountability we expect of our students to self- monitor and filter content for themselves. I don’t think they SHOULD do it by themselves, of course, but this presentation sparked a lot of thought and introspection and when it was coupled with Bud the Teacher’s blog post, this topic ended up being my favorite to explore.
  • Blogging: Sue Water’s presentation on blogging was great! I sort of wish it had happened a bit earlier in the course though, so that I would have incorporated some of her fabulous tips and hints right from the get-go. But.. sometimes jumping right into that river and seeing how things go is OK too, from time to time, especially since we had Alec on the shore with the life preserver handy!
  • Digital Story Telling: I loved this session a lot. Alan Levine’s wiki where it details 50+ ways to tell a story is one of my favorite wikis and I have it linked on my wiki too. There has been an evolution of storytelling. We’ve graduated from oral traditions, to written and now we are shifting once again into digital and visual ways of communicating. It is exciting and at times overwhelming, but it is vastly interesting too! I thoroughly enjoyed this session and there is fodder for future explorations for the next several years on this wiki, easily!!

Things I still find challenging:

There are several things I still find I’m struggling with. I don’t really like Twitter all that much, despite the fun I see others having on it and the valuable things that get shared with it. I understand the concept and can see the potential of it just fine. I’m just not sure it’s for me really. I used to always have an updated status on Facebook too, but now I don’t bother with even that. I’m never on Facebook unless my daughter sends me a message. I’m not too worried about not participating in this particular aspect of online interaction and networking, however. I know how to use these tools and I will use them when/if it becomes necessary for me to do so.

I haven’t become as proficient at using Delicious yet. I have used it and I have some bookmarks saved there but I don’t have nearly enough though. I think I’ve just gotten in the habit of making my own folders and whatnot and using that instead under My Favorites. I can definitely see that Delicious is an excellent tool but it’s one that feels clumsy to me yet. That will change with time and increasing my usage of the service, of course.

As I expressed earlier in this post, the road of learning in this course has been a twisting turning one, always with fresh surprises along the way and a simply magnificent view of the learning to come. Thank you all so much for being such incredible travel mates and guides on this incredible journey. The very very very best thing about this entire class has been the connections made with you all and the learning we have all shared together. Thanks again!

PS. All of the images used here were taken from Wikimedia Commons and are public domain files 🙂

This past week has been a killer. Not in a literal sense, though, thank goodness! My partner and I hit the road all last week to deliver workshops and distribute a curriculum integration guide we had co-authored a couple of years ago to ABE instructors throughout the province. The workshops went really well over all and the feedback was pretty positive. I had managed to cobble together enough of my final project wiki to feel comfortable in showing it to the workshop participants and for many of them, the wiki was the highlight of the workshop and they indicated this on the evaluation form at the end of it.

So I’m jazzed to keep on adding to it now and make it even more impressive! There is a lot of work to be done on it yet, though I’ve been steadfastly adding things and shaping it in ways that I hope make sense, not only to me, but to anyone else who views it as well. I’ve extended invitations to everyone I met over the last week (over 100 ABE instructors in Saskatchewan) to join the wiki and become contributors to it. We’ll see how that goes.. so far only one person has requested membership.

During the course of the workshops we did a lot of integrated planning with the attendees and Joanne and I plan on adding these unit plans and ideas to the wiki itself, to be able to share these with other instructors too. There is about a year’s worth of work to do, (alright.. that’s a bit of an hyperbolic statement) but we’ll keep plugging away at it, bit by bit. It’s something Jo and I are doing on our own time because we feel it’s important. ABE instructors in the province don’t generally utilize Web 2.0 tools to their advantage and I’m trying in this small way to bridge the gap for some of them, at least in this one aspect of their professional practice.

I’m still trying to catch up from previous classes. I haven’t had time to experiment yet with one of the tools that Scott Leslie and Brian Lamb had suggested during the November 17th class, though I have read all of my classmates’ blog posts about their impressions of the class and I’m relieved to find out I’m not the only one who felt they were “left in the dust” a bit by the presentation. I hope to have time to experiment with the tools they suggested and to try again to listen to the Elluminate recorded session. I did manage to catch up and listen to Stephen Downes session on LOLcats and I’m quite familiar with LOLcats myself. I love the Icanhascheezeburger website! The Icanhashotdog site is pretty cool too! My favorite LOLcat Math image is this one:

I think I could easily remix this one and trade out the word “algeblah” for something more techie related and it wouldn’t lose any of it’s funny-ness! Or aptness, for that matter! Ah well.. I’ll keep on plugging along here, learning what I can absorb, making bookmarks at those pages where things seem confusing to give them another look in the hopes the pieces fall into place for me then. Catch you all tomorrow in class!

Hello everyone. I’m writing this post because a former student of mine has requested that I join a FaceBook group to help locate her missing 38 year old brother-in-law and I thought in addition to joining the group, I’d also do my best to spread the word via the social network I’m struggling to create.

Click HERE to link to the Facebook site to read the latest news regarding David Bailey. His last known location was Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Please, if you have a moment, pass this blog post or the FaceBook link along to all of your contacts too. I know if I was in the horrible position of having a loved one missing, I’d want someone to do the same for me. Thanks in advance.