Well, I think it speaks to my experience, learning within the online model of ISW, that I’m posting my end-of-the-week reflection on the first day of Week 2! Not that I’m usually overly anal about “punching the clock” in a course, but the online environment is touchier I find. My experiences online have led me to believe that “you snooze, you lose”. If you get behind in posting to a forum or responding to a thought-provoking idea a fellow participant or student posts, you lose the momentum, the impact, the meaning. Those “learning moments” or “teachable moments”, that face-to-face teaching often talks about, are even more crucial and fragile in the virtual learning environment.
A required reading for the first week was a two-page paper by Richard Schwier on virtual learning communities. I found lots to agree and disagree with in his article but the “nugget” I found was the idea of “ringers” being a critical element in building communities online. “Ringers are the surprise events, the small rocks tossed into the glassy surface of smoothly operating community discourse. (Schwier, 2002). Although I know that incorporating new ways of learning into a course is a good thing, I hadn’t thought about that from the perspective of building community.
An unexpected realization this week was that I’ve become too tentative in challenging learners to try new technologies. I hesitated to ask my fellow mini-session facilitators to work in a shared Google document (a service I’ve used with other colleagues for more than 8 years!) because I thought it would add to the stress of trying to determine the best way to work together on the Week 2 mini-session. My colleagues didn’t appear to have Skype or GoogleHangouts in their repertoire yet and I avoided suggesting more technology in the interests of “getting it done”. The downside is that I missed a potentially valuable learning for both of them, in an environment that is explicitly meant to provide a safe place to challenge yourself.
I could go on but I think I won’t…the final activity I need to complete is to self-assess my participation this week in terms of the rubric I’ve adapted from one that was provided by the ISWo facilitators. I’ve rated myself as “Good” overall but here’s the detailed breakdown – best score would be 6 points:
Timeliness & Qty – 4 points (didn’t achieve “6” cuz I only posted once in each thread of the Online Community Building discussion)
Relevance – 5 points
Community – 5 points
Overall Participation – 4 points
Exploring Learning Technologies – 5 points (I rediscovered Authorstream, struggled with recording audio on PowerPoint without Adobe Presenter, tested Skydrive as a method of broadcasting audible PowerPoints, rediscovered Voki and created a new avatar, sucked it up and paid the $4.99 for the SimpleMinds mindmapping app and built a few mind maps, refreshed my memory of how to invite people to a GoogleHangout (although we didn’t actually do one)…
Enough said for this week. Stay tuned…
Schwier, Richard A. (2002). Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments (pdf). University of Saskatchewan, Paper presented to the International Symposium on Educational Conferencing. The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, June 1, 2002. 8 pages.