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Reflections on Teaching

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In a tour de force example of the value of face to face teaching in a class over learning online our PGCE tutor took us through the power of reflection. Look at the title of this blog 'Reflection on e-learning'. 10 years and eight months ago I was keenly filling these pages (on an ever so slightly different platform) as I took the first module in the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE). Search 'Reflection'.

Ten years on, while being invited to dig around in my head for an understand of the what it means to 'reflect', and while listening to my fellow students express their views and share their insights, we collectively construct and shape a meaning.

The beauty of this blog and its value ten years on and 5,000 entries later, is that I can search 'reflection' or seek out the tag 'reflection' and immediately be shown what I was reading, what I was being invited to read and what I was writing about it all. The beauty of this blog and it simplicity is that I can post and keep private, or post and share; it is as much as a private, even intimate scrapbook, mind dump and learning journal, as it is a potential resource for others. 

Reflecting on 'reflecting on teaching' and the profound differences between learning online (as it has so far been able to manifest itself) I see that one cannot replace the other, that certain elements are different to the point of being incompatible, that trying to recreate the class experience online is foolish and bringing the online way of doing things into the class just as wrong.

We have a long way to go yet to distinguish these differences and play to their strengths, rather than thinking one is superior to the other; neither is going away. The class I attended last night in which seven of us where there in person with the tutor and four were online is one I will return to again, and again for two reasons: first of all, to pick through what I was exposed to, what I was taught, the learning journey I experienced and the voices and words of others - everyone, in equal measure, was given the time and chance and encouragement to talk. And second of all, to contemplate the difference between the classroom and the online experience. What worked and what did not? What needs fixing to make it work better? 



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Design Museum

Too busy to blog

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Its a great place to be in some respects. But I barely have time to reflect or learning anything new as I am so busy having to do, do, do. This is G Suite for Education and in Meets several times a day with colleagues on the Digital Team, with staff or with students.

And then two or three times a week I will find myself back online doing a Zoom meet or quiz with different friends and family.  And even joined a Town Council Zoom meet. 

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A new horizon in online learning

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In my fifth week working from home the immediate realization is that I could easily have been limiting my time ‘at work’ to once or twice a week. I get more done, my commute is into the spare bedroom and my home office set up is vastly superior to what I am provided with anywhere at college. 

The greatest shift in behaviour is the amount of time spent in online meetings. Some of these lack the discipline that is required of a formal business meeting: an agenda and end time. Though a Zoom quiz with 17 family members spread between 3 corners of England ( South West, South East and North East), California and South Africa could have happily drifted on into the night - they weren’t going to bed in San Diego.

At least two ITC laggards in the family could finally figure out that they had a webcam and microphone. It strikes me as an excellent informal introduction to online learning that should be used with staff - break down the barriers and uncertainties by doing something that is collective, collaborative and fun.

It should be the mandatory icebreaker to do a quiz !

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Our time has come!

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Those of us with a background, academic interest in and experience with online learning now have an opportunity to bring everyone to the table. Working remotely for the last few days, and for the next few months I see a palpable change.

Google Meet and Zoom are the go to conferencing tools for College Staff and Students, and Town and District Councillors and staff. These, email and chat are now a stream of activity. 

People also know that I am at home, not 'on my travels' so I get a lot of straight phone calls too.

Coming out of the woodwork, belatedly, are people who have felt too shy to ask before on how to do some things that many of us by now feel are commonplace. On the other hand, I have always been surprised when with others what odd get arounds we all have, not knowing there is a shortcut to do this, that or the other.

I am wondering sometimes how much BETTER a conference call is for a meeting. It can be recorded, screens can be shared, and you can make a point even when others are talking by adding a note in 'chat' - useful, because some people do like to dominate the space. Online you can temporarily mute them, certainly hide their face smile Try that in a meeting face to face. 


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