Saturday, March 17, 2012

Summary of Learning for Online Pedagogy

Attempting something new. We were asked to consider using different ways to demonstrate our learning and reflection. I use concept mapping with pen and paper but never on the computer. I have to say it was a great way to summarise what I was reading and kept me focussed as I read. It was a little tedious at times but it is a great way to sum up the main ideas.
Summary of Learning for Online Pedagogy - Abi Woldhuis

Learner-centred, learner-centeredness, learning centred

Lots of Reflection

Reflection for this section was about thinking about what our beliefs about the terms Learner-centred, learner-centeredness, learning centred were in relation to teaching and learning, and being a learner ourselves. We were asked to reflect on these terms before reading relevant research.

Splitting hairs – on the surface yes but a great question to look at what lies beneath those terms to work out what the differences are. On a deeper level, there are quite significant differences between the terms. I do believe the terms are linked but have different foci. In my journey of learning, I struggle with stepping out to define things before I have read different perspectives on them. I love to then test what I have read against my personal pedagogy.

However, I digress. The intention of the reflection is to ask myself how the terms align with my beliefs about the roles and competencies of teacher and learners and my approach to learning.
A teacher needs to know their students. Not only a personal level – which assist with designing courses which pique the student interests but also the skills and background they bring with them. Any teacher can design a class, courses, teaching materials and learning experiences. Making them relevant, engaging, purposeful and educational requires us to know our students – we structure learning experiences to be learner-centred. This also enables us to be flexible in altering learning experiences to suit the learning needs of our students as they progress. Whilst we may feel the learning experiences we design are fantastic, we need to test them against what we know of learners. Having a learner centred approach allows us to bring our background knowledge, experiences and our learning centred pedagogy to the table when aiming for best practice in our teaching. These three terms bring different aspects of education together – they form our pedagogy. Education is not about a mark. It is about developing a whole person.

As a learner I appreciate knowing the end goal – I may not understand different aspects along the way but by having clearly defined outcomes, I begin to see the pieces of the puzzle are structured in such a way that they give me the skills I need to achieve those outcomes – perhaps that is learning centred. Carefully structured progression with an element of choice, give me security that different tasks that need to be completed are part of a plan but one which I need to explore further. I experience frustration when I’m not sure what is required and when work loads are high. I appreciate feedback and being able to seek clarification when my learning hits a road block but feel success when I figure a way around that block. I’m acutely aware that the aspects about learning that I value also equate strongly to those that my students value. As an adult, with out the added benefits of face to face interaction, online learning is certainly not as personal and interactive as that of teaching face to face but the advantages of being able to tailor learning to fit life demands outweighs the negatives.

Global Education Environment

Further reflections

We were asked to comment on the following statement:

"Education is a powerful tool in the global educational environment and the internet has enabled a new era in a human collective activity."

Firstly, Education is not the tool. Education is the result of the global educational environment. The internet is a tools which allows collaboration and networking globally which in turn enables learners to expand their learning in the areas that engage them. Let's focus less on the tools we use and more on the pedagogy and final outcome for the learners. Education isn’t just about academics, it is the complete package...the acquiring of information, the curating of the web to group topics, the working out of a response to the information that has been sought and then the production of those findings in a meaningful way. Most importantly, education is about the learner.

The internet is a challenge for some and a norm for others. With collaboration of human activity, the whole network benefits from the utilisation of the internet as a resource. The expansion of horizons and knowledge through connecting globally allows for virtual transformative learning. No longer do we have to travel to exact locations but through internet and global connections, we can explore avenues normally out of reach for the bulk of individuals. We can equip our students with the skills they require to communicate in globally. Equip themselves with the skills they require to have a safe, respected online presence. We are only on the cusp of this new era. As we become better at connecting, communicating and collaborating globally, we will see a whole new era again which, at present, we cannot define.

Reflection on a Transformative Learning Experience

In my Master of Ed course, we are asked to reflect on different aspects of our learning. We have been looking at Learning that is Transforming and analysing The Transformation Theory proposed by Jack Mezirow 1991. We are looking at what that means for use today as educators. It really is quite fitting considering my blog is called Journey Through Learning. A journey takes you far and you experience much. How much are we tranforming learning for our students? Do we really know what it means? Is it actually a new theory or have the really  brilliant educators been doing it for years and just haven't put a label to it?
My reflections:
A learning experience for me as a child which was “transforming” would probably be when my teacher took us on the Blue Lakes walk in Kosciuszko National Park, just because we were interested in Geography. It opened the world up and the fact that he invested in us so fully, meant the world. Here was someone who was interested in us and was prepared to give his time. It wasn’t only that he had given us his time but it was his approach – casually chatting about the geographical aspects of the walk and expanding our horizons. As the kids all say today – it was fun! We didn't know we were learning. I'm sure he knew we were.

I have always reflecting on his teaching style as I have grown and developed as a teacher. He was very strict but we all appreciated that because we knew where we stood. He planned for discussion and didn’t only answer the student with their hand up. We had to think. He didn't always give us the answers. Learning was always interesting – I think because it was hands on and we could apply it easily. Even the theory was enjoyable because his enthusiasm lifted each of us. We were valued as students and learners yet the lines of teacher/student boundaries were never crossed.

If I could bottle his formula, I would. I can’t so I as a result I try to apply what worked with us and make it current for the various cohorts I teach.

©Abi Woldhuis - Memories of a Transformative Teacher, Journey Through Learning.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

6 Leadership Lessons from Dr. Seuss - Newport News, VA, United States, ASCD EDge Blog post - A Professional Networking Community for Educators

I just love this link...

6 Leadership Lessons from Dr. Seuss - Newport News, VA, United States, ASCD EDge Blog post - A Professional Networking Community for Educators

6 Leadership Lessons from Dr. Seuss

Today is the day that the legendary Dr. Seuss was born. Many images enter you head when someone mentions Dr. Seuss. You may think of your first book, green eggs and ham, or even that pesky Grinch who stole Christmas. When I think about Dr. Seuss I envision leadership lessons. Below you will find a series of quotes from the collective works of Dr. Seuss and a brief explanation of how each relates to leadership.
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Leaders should be bold, take risks, and move organizations forward. One of my favorite sayings is that managers do things right and leaders do the right things. That's the difference between fitting in and standing out. Dr. Seuss did not fit in and neither should you. 
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
I believe that leaders have a responsibility to be the "Lead Learner". You set the tone for the rest of the organization through your actions. The best leaders are typically learners first. The great news is that you do not have to attend a conference or pay for an expensive workshop to get smarter. Technology allows leaders to leverage the wisdom of the world. You can even become smarter in a box with a fox or on a train in the rain.
“With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.”
The not-so-good street that many leaders end up on has to do with actions not matching words. A leader can have the best ideas and intentions yet go nowhere when the actions don't match up. A leader’s actions must always match even if your wardrobe does not match like many of the characters in Dr. Seuss’ imagination.
“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter,
and those who matter don't mind”
If everyone is happy with the work you are doing then you probably aren't leading much of anything. Leadership is about change and relentlessly seeking a better way. Somebody, somewhere will not be excited about change and a better way. Make sure you take inventory of those who mind and those who matter.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.”
Do not be afraid to abandon an initiative that isn't working. Leaders often ignore signs that an initiative or project should change direction. Leaders can and should admit when a project has failed or an idea hasn't panned out. This type of transparency builds trust within an organization.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
Everyone has a responsibility to lead. You are the only one that brings your combination of skills to the table. Nothing will get better without your leadership and today is the only day you are guaranteed.
There were many more quotes that I could choose.
So next time you are reading a Dr. Seuss Book
Make sure not to snooze.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

To allocate or not allocate

This week I needed to do some research for work. The internet is such a wonderful resource but it is also so immense. As I researched I came across so many different topics that I wanted to explore. I started delving in to some and then remembered my original goal for that day - to find research on a particular topic. So much learning, so little time. It reminded me to work smarter, not harder. Focus research times and allocate time slots. Being someone who loves to be spontaneous, I waver at the idea of allocating every minute of time and becoming too regimented - too controlling. A certain amount of order is essential. Remembering my original purpose, I went to the ScoopIt! topic I curate, Integrating Technology in the Classroom to collect one of the articles I knew I posted there. The time I had allocated to collating these resources reaped benefits. The mountain of information had some order. The resource I needed was quickly located. Life lesson - effective time allocation can free you up for many moments of spontaneity and dream chasing. Now just to implement it.