Striking a cord

I have just come across an interesting article by Eric Pat noudes regarding Empowering students through blogging. In the article he talks about using student outcomes to drive the use of technology and how an authentic audience can improve student motivation and engagement.

While the article is focused on school students it has me thinking about the possibility of similar outcomes when used in adult education particularly in the tertiary relm. My initial thinking and much of that is based on my reactions to my use of blogs in the course is that it possibly would increase motivation and engagement in students particularly with non assessed activities.

Increasing the use of blogs in my teaching is something I have been thinking about doing in my teaching for the last couple of weeks although I am a little restricted by organisational requirements but this is something that I am going to work on for my next semester subjects.

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Missing ladder rungs

I have just revisited the article by Bigum and Rowan titled Ladders, learning and lessons from Charlie: exploring the potential of public click pedagogy. I must say on a second read I found the concept of Wittgenstein’s ladder particularly interesting when it comes to my own learning and teaching. I identify with the concept that as you move up the ladder the bottom rungs fall away. This for me is particularly interesting when I consider the courses I co-ordinate and who has written them. They are written by experts, so are there gaps? are the students missing rungs? something for me to explore further.

I was also fascinated by the notion of learning that has been tidied, missing the messiness of learning and therefore students may feel that rungs of the ladder are missing (Bigum& Rowan 2014). While in this course I have definitely engaged in the messiness of learning at times I do feel like I am missing rungs on the ladder or patches in the quilt. I suspect this is due to my novice level of knowledge when I came into the course particularly when it come to the online tools but I also wonder how many of my students feel like this.

I also wonder if the analogy of a quilt with missing pieces may be more appropriate for my situation as learning is not always linear and perhaps i am piecing together bits of knowledge to create a quilt that I can wrap myself in.

 

Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2013). Ladders, Learning and Lessons from Charlie: exploring the potential of public click pedagogy (No. 2).

Multiple personality: Me as a student vs me as a learner

I think I may have a multiple personality when it comes to me as a student and as a learner particularly when I consider how I see the different roles of student and learner and how I conceptualize and practice those roles. Many of my thoughts around this possibly stem from my concept of a student. Currently I view a student as someone learning in a more formal context such as this course. A learner for me is someone engaging in growing their knowledge in an area of interest. Student and learner overlap as in both situations you learn however for me the term student infers a more formal approach and learner a more relaxed, user driven approach.

Here is where I start to struggle as to my role within this course, the learner in me wants to explore, bookmark things I find interesting so that I can come back to them later, I build myself a resource about education. My learner self knows that I can’t know everything, that I need to pick and choose and build myself a resource that I can come back to at a time when I can use it, making the learning authentic and therefore increase the chance that I will remember it. My student self however feels that I should be reading everything, making notes, referring and linking to articles in all my posts, with my posts being more academic in nature than they currently are. The difficulty I have is that this is not my instinctive way to learn, in fact I have always struggled in the academic world (even as a child).

Thinking about me as a learner more and my past experiences of learning my reflections reveal that the times when I feel I have learn’t the most or when the learning has been most transformative have been in less formal study, they have been when I have engaged in life long learning. To explain this a little more my background is in healthcare as a registered nurse, now unlike many nurse educators I am not an accidental educator (someone who found themselves working as a nurse educator because they were the next senior person when a position came up), my transition from working clinically on the wards to supporting staff working clinically on the wards has been planned but I share many of the same experiences as the accidental educators. When I started in the role the only formal training I had as an educator was my Cert IV in training and assessment, everything else I have learnt about education has been transferred knowledge from other studies eg. child development or educating parents, bereavement training or from my own search for knowledge. I am naturally an inquisitive person and telling me I cant do something at times can be like a red flag to a bull, is this due to nature, nurture or a combination of both?

Now within nursing we are taught as an undergrad to engage in life long learning. It is difficult as a nurse to not be a life long learner as there are constantly new medications, procedures, techniques, treatment combinations that we need to be knowledgeable about , we also have a requirement for professional development to maintain registration. Due to these factors I have engaged in alot of more informal learning through reading, conference attendance, preparation for presentations to colleagues, through quality improvement projects and corridor consults with medical and allied health staff (usually discussing a particular case). Nurses (myself included) also engage in reflection as a form of learning and while many nurses still struggle to document their reflection it is becoming more common place and is part of the skill set taught to undergraduate nursing students. I therefore identify with Brendon’s blog and Anneliese blog comments about the power of reflection and blogging as a way of learning, I have been using reflection for a long time, putting it into a blog is new and something I am keen to share with my students as a way of keeping reflections. Due to the personal nature of reflection I think there is a fear associated with blogging particularly in a public space, this is definitely something I felt initially however I am starting to embrace it more and more.

Learning seems to come more naturally to me, I like to be able to link the theory and practice and I think that this is where I struggle with the concept of me as a student because I can read articles, understand them but until I get that idea or see how the concepts in the article relate to my teaching I struggle to integrate the knowledge and more importantly remember it. I think that is one of the things I am finding with this course there is so much interesting information being shared and much that I identify with but until I actually use it, can implement the ideas, tools ad concepts into my role as a teacher I won’t fully realise my role as student.

My experience as a learner and a student impacts on my role as a teacher and while they may stand alone they are highly interconnected in my world therefore I think my multiple personality will stand for a little longer.

Finding my CLEM

During my journey into networked and global learning I have been asked to find the CLEM that will help me as a teacher.

I like Andrew who suggests in his blog about CLEM am relatively naive when it comes to the use of collaborative tools within my teaching and learning. Even though I teach in an online course my use of tools has been limited due to a number of factors including my own lack of knowledge, constraints of the organisation and to some degree the lack of collaboration of my peers regarding teaching resources.

This course, and the fact that I am currently trying to update resources for a course I teach in coupled with my perception that there is not alot of sharing happening within the department regarding ICT and it’s use in our teaching has got me excited about the potential a tool such as mendeley may have not only for my own teaching but also for the ability to share and collaborate with colleagues.

Interestingly I haven’t thought too much about using CLEM to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the tool, perhaps I need to do this since I have committed to showing it to colleagues as something they might be interested in using. Instead I have thrown myself into using it and learning through experimentation. I wonder if  using CLEM would allow me to gain confidence and competence in the use of the tool faster or will I still need a question for me to seek the information that will be useful to me?

Time will tell how I go with this but I do have a deadline.

From walking to running

So as previously identified in my post rethinking of activity for assignment 1 I am learning to run. So this past week has seen me start learning to run. I decided to start my learning about running by trying to ascertain the best way to go from walking to running. I took the advice of my 7yr old and started with a google search (apparently that’s where you go to find the answer when you don’t know it), I used the search terms ‘learning to run’ and came across several websites with a variety of advice, the common theme was to start running at intervals and most suggested a time interval eg. walk for 5min run for 2 min, walk for 5min, run for 2min etc.

I also looked at my schedule to work out when I could fit in a couple of training sessions. My schedule is such that I can’t get out to run in daylight hours so as much as I hate gyms I decided the best thing to do was get a gym pass to enable me to train during the week when it is dark. So I went in for my first training session.

Now as I mentioned gyms are not my favourite place and neither are treadmills but I needed to try this interval training that I had been reading about so on the treadmill I hopped and off I went with my walk for 5min, run for 2min etc. It didin’t last very long, i felt really uncomfortable running on the treadmill, i thought that I was going to trip over, it felt like my shoes were gripping the belt of the treadmill a little too well, after a few attempts at running (each getting shorter and shorter as my anxiety grew higher and higher) I gave up running and just continued walking until I had done 5km. This first session was an evening session after a long day so perhaps I found it difficult because I was tired, or maybe I need to lift my feet more when I run on the treadmill. 

I decided my next session would be an early morning session to see if perhaps my difficulties in running were related to being tired. I did manage to run a little further this time but the discomfort and anxiety were still there so again I gave up running and walked until I had done 5km. I then went to work for the day and interestingly I felt great all day. I am thinking that even though it’s hard to get out of bed, mornings may be better for me than evenings.

I managed to organise life and got out to do an outdoor walk/run with some of the others completing the Multi-Stage Kilometere-a-thon (MSK) on Saturday, it wasn’t quite an OMG o’clock start (ie before 6am) but it was pretty close. It felt great to be outside and walking in a beautiful spot (Sydney’s Bay run). Again I tried my interval strategy and was going quite well, the running felt good, the anxiety wasn’t there and I didn’t feel like I was going to trip over my own feet. Physically the running was easier, until the temperature dropped and it clouded over (about 5km in to my 7kms). At this point I started to feel cold and my muscles felt like they were lead, they didn’t want to move and running became harder and harder. I let myself walk more than I would have liked but pushed myself to run the last 1/2km.

I have found that running for me is mentally tough (at least at the moment). On the treadmill I am constantly battling with myself to keep going, telling myself that I am not going to trip over and embarrass myself in a room full of people, trying to manage my anxiety. I find that the distance and time seems to go slower at the gym than when I am outside and that adds to the mind games. Running outside is mentally challenging in a different way, again I have to keep telling myself to keep going and that “I can do it” but that’s hard when the legs are burning from running up that hill (because there is no way to avoid the hill), or because my weak muscles are starting to get tired. Interestingly for me it seems that my legs want to give up before my lungs do, I need to look into this.

So basically that is my experience of trying to action some of the things I read about in my google search. I have discovered that I need to do some learning on the tech side of things. When I was looking up how to run I realised that I am not sure how to make life easy for myself and follow some of the blogs and webpages, that will be my focus this week.

If only running was as simple as my 3yr old tells me it is. 

 

Rethinking of activity for Assignment 1.

So a couple of weeks ago when I started this course and found out I had to pick something I would like to learn using a networked and global learning approach I thought great I can finally spend some time learning to use the DSLR camera and how to take good photos which I have been wanting to do for a couple of years now but due to family, work and study commitments I haven’t had the time.

I have discovered over the last few weeks however that a few things have changed or need to change, one of those being my previous study routines if I am to stay sane and complete this course in one piece.This has prompted me to take my own advice and do something I do for my family and I suggest to my students at the beginning of each semester. I have written a plan, a timetable of sorts so that I can achieve all that I want to and still have a family (that will talk to me) at the end of it. Doing this exercise has made me realise that I don’t have the capacity in my already busy life to add in another hobby at this time so I have decided that perhaps I need to use this assignment to take the next step in an existing hobby that I find valuable when I am studying, walking or running to be more precise.

Early this year I participated in a health and fitness challenge with my mum. Firstly to help and support mum to complete the challenge and secondly because I needed to do some exercise again. The challenge was a multi-stage marathon, the idea was to complete a marathon distance (42km) over 4 days either walking, running or a combination of both. There was a 12 week training program to prepare for the challenge and i completed the challenge. Throughout the challenge I met lots of new people and the support was amazing. I was seeing some amazing benefits for myself in just getting out and walking but by the end of the challenge I was inspired by so many of the other challenge participants to start running.

Now I am not runner, I did not run at school, in fact I avoided sports other than dance. At the end of the challenge I set myself another goal and started training to run 8km, i didn’t realise that dream as when I started running I ended up with an injury. I have since been haphazard in my training and pursuit of this challenge.

An opportunity arose about a month ago to participate in another multi challege, this time a multi-stage kilometer-athon. Basically the premise is you choose a distance 20km, 30km,40km or 50km to complete over 2 days either walking, running or a combination of both. I decided to do this challenge and get some focus and regularity back into my exercise. So I have chosen to do 30km over 2 days with the intention to run at least 5km each day.

So this is where the assignment comes in. I am going to learn to run! I am going to research running, learn about the techniques, injury management and anything else I can find out then put it into practice and hopefully achieve my goal of running at least 5km each day of the challege in October. 

Me as a learner

Why learn to run?

For me learning to run is a challenge and I do like a challenge. As I said before I am not a runner and never have been, I also know from past attempts that it is not something I am good at.

The fact that I am not good at running is a reason to learn but I also want to use this to role model something I tell my kids all the time and that is ” I don’t care how well you do something the important thing is that you have a go and try”, “I am more interested in the effort you put in than the end result”

Another reason for me to learn to run is for the health benefits associated with running or regular exercise, I need to make exercise a routine part of my life and I know that i feel better within myself and cope with all the things life throws at me more effectively when I exercise regularly.

I believe running will be something I can learn through networked learning as there are alot of runners out there and many fitness blogs and videos. I am currently part of a facebook group with the multi-stage kilometer-a-thon challenge where participants in the challenge support each other. I also know there are many apps and programs out there for people to track progress and share that information with others so I am looking forward to exploring this more.

I am also interested to see how networked learning can assist me in learning and I am glad that it can be something where the only pressure to suceed is the pressure I place on myself. In my professional life there has always been a high risk of letting someone down,of having a potentially negative impact on someone’s life at times life threatening impact and therefore any professional learning I have done has had consequences if I didn’t get it right. It is nice to think that I can learn something and at the end of the day if I don’t get it someone is not going to have their life adversly affected.

I am worried about learning in a networked way, I am worried about becoming engrossed and loosing track of time but that is a risk I am going to have to take.

Reflections on the paper “Threshold concept framework”

The paper “Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning” by G. Kligyte (2009) is a paper that is associated with a conference poster and explores the concept of using threshold concepts as a way of analysing practice on networked learning.

I found this article very interesting an found that when initially commencing my journey into the world of networked learning I felt very much like the participants of the case study presented; overwhelemed, excited and out of my depth but I was determined to keep going.

I identified with several aspects of the article and found Kligyte (2009) comment about information and network literacies becoming a vital skill for academics. While I agree with this I don’t believe it is isolated to academics. The world we live in is changing and at a pace we haven’t seen before. I teach in the health care sector and health care is currently a very dynamic, ever changing place to be. It is changing rapidly due to increased research and developments in research techniques that are resulting in new drugs and new procedures. Health care is also changing as it is becoming a political and economic issue for the country and that has an impact on how health care is delivered and how health care practioners work therefore I believe information and network literacies is also a vital role for health professionals and I am sure this is true in other professions also. I think this video Education and the future while a little old now, gives some insight as to why networked learning needs to be embraced by teachers.

Kligyte (2009) talks about networked learning being troublesome, discursive, irreversible, liminality and integrative. I feel very much still in the liminal space when it comes to learning. I am not sure of my ultimate destination and I feel that I am shifting back and forth due to my limited understanding of the concepts and tools. I am regularly overwhelmed by the amount of information once I find a starting point but do feel as though I am making progress and with every adventure I am becoming less overwhelmed. I like to think I am learning to crawl before I walk and walk before I run.

I am sure once I feel I have mastered this something will come along that makes me question my knowledge all over again.

 

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference (pp. 540–542). Auckland, NZ. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf