What is my experience of being a learner?
I have experienced being a learner on a range of short and long courses, as well as face to face, blended and online courses. I specifically chose to do my masters as an online course as I was so frustrated with my experience of doing a PGCE as a face to face, evening course. There was virtually no use of technology used on this course other than an overhead projector which was never fully in focus. I felt this was a wasted opportunity as all our lecture time was spent busy making notes of what was on the OHP. Despite it being a face to face course, communication with others on the course was minimal, as this wasn’t really built into the lecture time and no message boards or online forums were provided.
I have felt my experience on this online course is allot more useful as I am not only learning from the course material through the VLE, but I am also learning from the community of learners on the course via elluminate, the email forums, the blogs and via twitter.
What tools and resources do you use?
For this course I use the VLE as a starting point which leads me to elluminate sessions, linked reading materials and other resources. I use the first class system to communicate with my tutor and tutor group, I use twitter to communicate with a wider community of students on the course as well as friends and colleagues’ with an interest in the course.
I have created a number of personalised resources for this course I have used XFruits.com to create a combined rss feed of blogs from H800 learners, which I have added to my personalised netvibes rss reader. Using this I can instantly see who has added a new post. On netvibes I also have a number of personalised search engines created using google. One of these will just search the blogs of H800 learners, one will search webistes which I find useful/relevant and one searches the websites of the learning providers I support.
What are your views on different technologies?
The technologies which I really appreciate are the once which I can personalise around my needs/interests/lifestyle such as combined rss feeds, netvibes personalised home pages, personalised search engines.
I am disappointed with technologies which waste this opportunity, such as first class. I preferred using the moodle forums because these could be set up so any new messages would also be sent to a personal email address. This meant I didn’t have to log into a separate system to check my course email.
Dispite being trying to be optimistic regarding technology, I admit that I quickly become frustrated when I notice something as a learner that isn’t being done in, what I consider the best way possible. I guess that’s the problem with having ‘teachers’ as learners, in the same way ‘doctors’ make the worst patients because they notice the things others wouldn’t (did I just use a metaphor???)
Can you think of examples where technology has made a significant difference to the way you learn?
There are many I could think of, but I will stick to online mindmaps. I was having problems organising my thoughts , particularly when it came to preparing my assignments. A friend suggested using online mind maps. I found this really useful as I could clearly map out what I knew and it highlighted the areas I needed to do more work on. I could have done this with pen and paper using a computerised system allowed me to add links to relevant documents, move sections around, expand and collapse sections of large mindmaps. Having the mindmap online made it easy for me to access it at anytime on my work or home computer.
Can you think of counter examples where you had a bad experience of a particular technology?
The main experience I can think of involves my time on my PGCE course. Although technology was generally not used, there was one lecturer who used PowerPoint and told us we could download the presentations from the Blackboard VLE system. I was really please with this however I had never used a VLE before and was given no instructions. I got a username and password and logged on. At first I was impressed as it seemed to have so many options and therefore had alot of potential, however as I searched for my course, the module I wanted and the powerpoint slides i wanted to download. I noticed that what I was seeing didn’t match up to my courses. I looked up at the top of the screen and saw I was now logged in as someone completely different on a nursing course. There was no helpdesk to contact so I told me I could copy the slides directly onto a USB stick during the lecture. I didn’t feel this really solved the problem of the VLE, however as no other lecturers were using it, there didn’t seem much point perusing this.
What did this do to your motivation for learning?
This was another factor which demotevated me on a course I was already frustrated with, although having the slides on a USB stick was at least better than trying to copy them off the OHP.
How did you deal with the situation?
Towards the end of the course I wrote an email to the course leader listing this and other problems I had with the course, in the hope that they could be corrected for future delegates.
Drawing on what you have read, try to represent your Personal Learning Environment in three different ways.
Click on the images to view larger copies
This wordcloud represents some of the tools I use as my PLE, the larger the word appears, the more often I access that tool
This diagram represents some of the communication tools I use as a learner and who I communicate with useing them.
This cartoon is a very general representation of what I learn from the learning provider, via the course VLE, and what I learn from other learners on the course via various communication tools.