Intro and my TEL experiences (repeated)
As a student of French as part of my first degree, I made use of CALL labs for a variety of language learning activities: these were my first real experiences of using technology to assist learning. I enjoyed the quick feedback received on tasks which essentially had a right or wrong answer; it was satisfying to practise until I got something right (even if I forgot it again soon after!). I also made use of email and PowerPoint in conference presentations during these years of study: both new innovations within the University at that time.
Apart from using the web, email and PowerPoint, my first experience of using TEL at work to learn myself and also to support the learning of others was probably in 2008/09 making use of WebCT briefly as part of following a PG Cert HE at the University of Essex. Soon after this, the VLE was changed to Moodle and at this time I made a career change from teaching Linguistics and EAP to becoming a Professional Development Officer in the Learning & Teaching Unit at Essex.
From scratch I attended training sessions and started to work on contributing to the Moodle space we were designing to support our PG Cert HE participants. I learnt how to make use of the VLE in stages as I needed to do things: enrolling participants, uploading files, making use of groupings within groups, utilising the lesson tool, using forums, and the assignment tool. I loved it! I really enjoyed learning and mastering new tools. I also started to think more critically about how the space looked and functioned for the users.
During this time, I was working towards my own PG Cert in HE as well as supporting teaching staff and postgraduates with teaching responsibilities to attain theirs. I became familiar with other participants’ work using technology, for instance the PRS, different ways of using Moodle, and audio provision of feedback by reading participants’ assignments and providing feedback. I followed up this new familiarity by reading some of the academic papers sighted such as ‘The ‘Millionaire’ method for encouraging participation’ by Wendy Beekes (2006). It was then that my enthusiasm for learning more about use of technologies to support learning started.
Now at Royal Holloway in my role as Educational Development Officer, I continue to work with Moodle in a similar way to before and have experimented with the Book tool, Choices, and also with a Quiz: I still wish to do a lot more! I have signed up to training courses in Moodle run by my lovely colleagues in our e-learning team so am hoping to be able to expand my skills and knowledge in all things Moodle.
For the future, I would love to be able to contribute extensively to the development of an online area for the sharing of effective teaching practice within our College. I would like to be able to learn about a wide range of technological possibilities that might enable me to contribute innovatively towards this project, and which would enable me to further develop our Moodle areas for our PG Cert in HE participants. I would also like to be able to utilise technology more in my own teaching sessions within our PG CertHE programmes.
The most important goal for me is to enhance learning by adding something new and motivating which would not be possible without technology so that additional doors are opened. I of course also wish to enhance existing tried and tested activities through the use of technology. What I am wary of is using technology for the sake of it. It is important for me to understand how a particular technology can enhance and deepen learning.
My biggest questions apart from the above are what technologies are actually available, how do I use them, how are they beneficial for me to use as a teacher, and what are the learning gains for those I teach.
Bits and bobs I’m finding helpful via course participation and my own reading:
- Article by Gilly Salmon (2012) Tech for teaching: five trends changing higher education
- ‘Moodle tool guide for teachers’ produced by Joyce Seitzinger
What I am noticing about other participants on this course (2nd activity for induction week)
I’ve skim read quite a few of the introductions now and this has helped me think about the second activity which is:
- What characteristics do you think the participants in this course have in common?
- In what ways might they be different or atypical of other groups of learners that might be important or relevant to you?
Overall, I’m finding that participants are keen to learn and also support other participants in their learning ; they also seem confident, engaged and willing to try out new things. This level of motivation and experience is probably a defining factor of this type of course which make it quite different say to the teaching of a prototypical group of learners (if there is such a thing!).
The other thing I’ve noticed is that we have plenty of expectations and ideas, this should prove fruitful for us all I would think.
There already is some sharing of practice going on and I can see that this also is likely to be beneficial.
Challenges are of course that fact that we are so very diverse in so many different ways and that there really is a MASSIVE amount of information on here already! Hence MASSIVE open online course I suppose! Sifting is going to be time consuming but hopefully worth it.