On-line Learning

As part of our Designing On-line Learning module this week we didn’t have a lecture, but instead a number of tasks and information was made available on Moodle and we could complete the learning in our own time.  We’ve been asked to keep a blog or diary about our experiences.

Having the on-line material instead of a lecture was useful for me.  I could attend a meeting with a tutor which otherwise would have required me travelling into Manchester on an extra day, and I got home earlier which meant I got to eat dinner with my family!  I have accessed the work in a few chunks, instead of sitting down all at once.  I had an hour after work and before picking up the children one day when I managed to investigate a couple of websites and work through most of the tasks.  I started writing up my blog in university, in between lectures.  It has been useful to be able to access the information from different places as this has helped me be flexible.  It is harder to force myself to prioritise completing these tasks over the hundreds of other things on my ‘to do’ list. 

WISC
The WISC site looked really exciting and I eagerly jumped in.  The ‘Heat Distribution’ resource looked fantastic, but on reflection it had a lot of writing, and even someone like me who likes to read all the information, found myself skipping on to see what the animation did!  It will be interesting to show it to my 12 year old son as I’m sure he will just click the animations and ignore the text!  Will that hamper his learning and understanding, will he get just a basic overview, or will he fully understand from what he takes in?  Some of the other examples on the site were a bit disappointing and seemed to be just powerpoints with animation and I struggled to see how they were better than being talked through something.  Some of the interactive sorting games were useful, but when I disagreed with the objects sorting, there wasn’t a way to interact dynamically!

I registered with the site and hoped to be able to have a play with the ‘building games’ software, but you had to pay a subscription for that service, which I didn’t want to do.  All in all left the site a bit disappointed.

Wikis
While I was exploring WISC I was also registering with a wiki site which had been set up for use in another lecture.  I’ve never used Wikis before, but I was really impressed with how easy they were to use.  I can certainly see potential for using them in group learning situations.  It will really help people who need to collaborate on a project to connect with each other and plan and share information, even if the finished product is not the Wiki itself.  Obviously the finished project could be the Wiki though.

Blogs/Twitter/Facebook
I’ve used all of these social media before.  I’ve used Facebook for quite a long time, but I keep it pretty much just for social use, although I do have work colleagues on my Facebook, I consider them personal friends too. 

Twitter I use for gathering information and to help me connect to current developments and articles in a variety of areas, including news, library information, politics and Strictly Come Dancing!  I find it invaluable for widening my reading, knowledge and understanding of lots of current issues.

Blogging I’ve done for a while.  I kept a creative blog over the summer and now I’m trying to keep this more reflective learning log. 

RSS
This was an area I stuggled with.  I could subscribe to a feed, but found it hard to get my subscription into a feed reader and then I found the reader hard to access and it all seemed a little pointless.  I think this was where I found the on-line/distance element of the learning really hard as there wasn’t the immediate help that a teacher or fellow students could have given me.

So overall, how did I find the distance learning?  Well, here’s my confession, although I did a lot of the work on Tuesday and wrote up part of this blog on Wednesday, at least half of the writing up has been done in a rush and panic on Sunday night, and I still haven’t watched all the teaching videos.  Although I was glad to have the flexibility on Monday afternoon, I think I would have preferred to have the focus of the two hour lecture slot to work in, as I’ve struggled to find those two hours, plus the additional two hours extra study elsewhere.  As previously mentioned, I’ve missed the immediate help and support of a teacher or other students when I had a problem.  I know I could have e-mailed someone, but somehow that seemed too much effort, and I didn’t want to bother anyone. 

Would I use distance learning in my teaching?  Probably, as there are obviously situations when learners can’t be with a teacher for a variety of reasons (time, distance, health to name a few) but this exercise has made me consider some of the issues or isolation and time management that I would have to address when desiging learning and the support that goes with it.

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