Monday, August 27, 2007

Reflections on Konrad's lecture and myself as an online learner

I listened to the lecture again and was astonished at just how much I hadn't 'heard' the first time. Will need to listen a few more times as I felt my attention going a couple of times even when aware of the danger. Just how much do students in lecture theatres or classrooms miss? They don't hear it again. I realise how useful podcasts of summaries or key points from classroom lectures can be for on campus and off campus students.

I had heard that 'snacking' was proving effective for learning in some US trials, where students were able to listen to six or 12 minute summaries from lectures. This sort of learning (in frequent short bursts) is ideal for language learning, and the triallers in the States believed it was appropriate for the learning and lifestyles of many of their students. Te Ara Poutama at AUT is also developing podcasts for students of Maori language and dance.

The use of podcasts seems to have gone beyond snacking in some cases though:

Lectures. Podcasting is becoming more widespread, allowing students to download audio of class lectures and listen to them whenever or wherever they want. University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Arizona State University in Tempe and Temple University in Philadelphia will be able to podcast every lecture in every classroom this fall using software company Anystream's Apreso Podcast.

I have not read the full article for this link, but the abstract is interesting in itself. -

and the findings in this article are also interesting. You can download the article:

I appreciate the concept that blogging/online learning opens up possibilities for students to access resources that are relevant to their interests. This endorses my own approach in the last few years in my work with autonomous learning/reflection/e-portfolios. By allowing students to venture out (open the barn door) and apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom, they become more engaged in their learning, and their motivation is increased because what they are doing has more relevance. As a consequence, they are also able to reflect more meaningfully on the learning process through this experiential learning, and end up discovering things themselves that would not have been possible to cover in a lecture.

Access and linkages - I really like Konrad's ideas for making the community and activities clearly visible to everyone. Perhaps this is because I am a 'global' learner - I like to know where I am, how to get to places and what is expected of me so that I can plan my time. I don't mind layers that I have to explore, but not if time is limited. My students are likely to be in the same situation.

How am I doing so far? I realise that for me, online learning means I have to be very organised and methodical or I will get left behind. I am already having to catch up as I started late - and although this is not a comfortable situation to be in, it is a good experience as I am now more sympathetic to students who start courses late. I need to really manage my time carefully: log on and do something frequently, and plan what it will be and when eg Mondays read resources, Tuesdays read other students' blogs and comment on them, Wednesdays listen to lectures again and write up my own blog. I also think it would have helped had I had a buddy to work with. The disadvantage might be that the staff members might not be able to monitor my progress so clearly - although I could always record it in my blog. But it would help to get to know someone on the course, and if they live in the area, perhaps to phone each other or to use Skype to talk things through? It feels good when someone makes a comment in my blog or in response to an entry in the discussion board. Someone is interested enough to read my thoughts, and this brings a sense of belonging.

Another thing I have realised is not only do I have to feel comfortable in the online environment, but my physical environment must also be conducive to learning. I use a laptop at home but the wireless was not working so I had no choice but to sit at the computer in my study. I prefer to be able read or write in different places - for example where the sun is coming through the window - which I could do with paper, pen and a book or article. Having to make myself sit at the computer in the study was creating a sort of physical and psychological barrier. I have now got a new router and the wireless is working. It means I can log on anywhere and even listen to the lectures while cooking! I can add to my blog as the ideas come instead of jotting them down on paper and writing up later. This means the course is more accessible and fits in with the snacking idea too.

My next challenge: RSS.


Veronique said...

Hi Debbie
I read with interest your comments about how you were going as an online learner and your plans for keeping up with the course. I had been thinking the very same thing myself. I've realized I not only need to be more structured in my approach to keep up but I need to become a more active participant otherwise I'm letting the team down. I also need to do the rss challenge!

Yvonne said...

Hi Debbie

The 'organisation' required for keeping up with this course is a surprising issue for me. I find I keep up with reading posts and listening to lectures but stumble over the blogging element. I start a post but save it to check over before publishing and before I know it we're onto the next lot of discussions and I havent published the last one! I think a good plan might be to try and follow your structure!


David McQuillan said...

Konrad's lecture is a goodie isn't it.

Thanks for the heads-up regarding 'snacking'. Excellent food for thought.

You say
"It feels good when someone makes a comment in my blog or in response to an entry in the discussion board. Someone is interested enough to read my thoughts, and this brings a sense of belonging."

Something I've realised is that for every person who posts a comment on your blog, the number of readers is far greater (realised recently - re: my post to our google group)

I guess that this means that the actual community is much greater than our experience of this community. I wonder if you get more of a sense of the actual community over time, or if there are any ways of making this community more explicit? Maybe we can track readers of our posts?

I'm off to conference today - a short week after a week of leave last week, so I'm feeling slightly disconnected from the course. Haven't been participating much due to lack of time (this post is my biggest action this week apart from lurking). Back into it again next week hopefully. :-)


David McQuillan said...

Re: last comment,
I made a mistake with my html. I think I've managed to correct the link to the group email post here.

bronwyn said...

Debbie you are doing better than me - I haven't got back to listen to the podcast. At the moment I am making a real effort to read everyone's blogs and keep up with reflecting on the guest lectures.
I believe it is an important part of any class to see the facilitator participating by taking notice and helping to tease out the common threads and main things which are coming up.

I really prefer the idea of snacking on audio - I couldn't imagine having anyone having the fortitude to listen to a 50 min recording of a lecture unless the topic was riveting and the speaker really enthusiastic and totally eloquent...otherwise.....drone, drone..droning on ad tedium.

I am really enjoying the 10 -15 min snacks from the guest speakers.

You do sound organised and this is an important trait in an online facilitator. I also agree with you about being mobile...sitting in the sun instead of a dark office is so much more appealing...You are spurring me on to be more visible on my blog.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Debbie, just caught up with your blog. I feel I should say something earth-shattering - I have some great theoretical perspective to announce. However, the point I took out of your post is that about wireless. It is not so much what is online that has liberated me, but wireless that has given me freedom. The fact that I can connect any where there is wireless with the communities I belong to is liberating. Having said that, it does also make me think about the digital divide again - I am very blessed but there people who do not have access to basic life-giving resources - brings me back to earth.

Like you, the RSS challenge is beckoning. cheers Sarah