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Weeks 8 and 9, slogging and misunderstanding

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Weeks 8/9 were actually spread out over 3 weeks. Week 8, a week off for Easter, and then week 9. Weeks 8 and 9 actually shared activities which I (numpty) had not realized. I slogged away to get through week 8 so I could enjoy a bit of a break (catch up!) and was still a whole activity from the end when week 9 was supposed to be beginning. I'd worked hard in week 8 and the week off so I was a bit fed up. Then I saw the activities for week 9 were the same as those for week 8. Hence the week 8/9 I suppose!

I'm not sure if it was this slog and misunderstanding but these weeks felt very much like a slog. The first block of H800 was what I expected - how do people use technology to help learning and how well does it work. These weeks fit in with the 'Technology Enhanced Learning' but in a way I hadn't thought about - using technology to design lesson plans, and learning plans more broadly. 

Of course I can see the benefit of this. Planning lessons on a sheet of paper must regularly result in a bit of a scribble as new ideas are inserted, difference activities swap places in the time line, things are crossed out. Planning lessons on a word processing document may result in a tidier plan but surely there is more scope for using technology that simply replacing a paper sheet for a laptop screen (which will likely be printed on a paper sheet). 

It's obvious when you think about it but, it seems, more complicated to enact than to imagine. 

We looked at a wide variety of 'learning design templates' which attempted to provide a base for learning design which encouraged designers to look at their overarching pedagogy, how balanced their program was and what resources would be needed - and then represent the lesson in a graphical and visual manner which could not only be used by the teacher but could also be shared for reuse and repurpose.

The templates we looked at seemed old. There was a few good ideas and some neat tricks but I felt like there must be versions of this which are newer and more streamlined. I asked the Facebook hive mind (I must have almost 100 teachers / educationalists on my friends list) and asked what they did. Some used online templates but after a little digging they were all simply online forms which they completed and then printed. None reported using a template to assist in their planning, simply to record it. Some of them reported 'downloading' complete lesson plans and such like from various (paid for) sites online. 

Later on we looked at 'schemas' (yeah - I had to google that!) which helped us map activities along three spectrums:

  1. Individual and Social
  2. Active and Passive
  3. Information and Experience

Despite our discussions about the value of participation and student centric learning - I am still convinced a variety of activities is the best way to learn - even including some passive, information and individual ones! (Such as reading a journal, watching a video or listening to a podcast alone!). 

I enjoyed this mapping as is was a more general and 'big picture' activity. I am finding the very specific 'nitty gritty' activities are harder for me to engage with. The bigger picture things I find I can apply to my experience - as learner and teacher - and also to my context. I find it harder to contextualize things from specific to general than from general to specific. 

Anyway - weeks 8/9 are done! (Thankfully). Week 10 beckons and looks interesting! 

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TMA01.... 68%

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Tuesday, 3 Apr 2018, 10:28

I have been stressed over the past days about the TMA score. I feared it would go badly, hoped it would go well but I hadn't considered my own personal 'badly to well' grade boundaries so now I am now sure how I think I did! 

I got good marks for my forum participation which I expected. I have been active and have received good feedback from both my student colleagues and tutor about my contributions. 

I dropped 3 marks (our of 10) on spelling and grammar which is a slap in the face! Though the feedback notes a couple of OU style omissions (which I confess to having deliberately omitted because of the blasted word count!) which may have been a problem. 

My biggest mark drops were not properly relating things back to my own context (it turns out my own context is not the rich seam of technology enhanced learning examples which I had previously assumed it to be!) and dodgy referencing. The second is especially annoying as I had an extra 24 hours in which I could have reviewed this again but I submitted early to get it out of the way. 

So I have a good 'Pass 3'. 2 marks off a Pass 2. This TMA only counts for 5% of H800 so it doesn't matter much in the overall scheme but it does and will affect my psyche and attitude. 

I am trying to use the Easter Break to crack on but everyone else is on their break which means getting on is tricky as H800 is more collaborative the further it goes! 

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Block 2 and this gets real-er

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We are now a week and a bit into Block 2 and it feels different. I had my doubts in Block 1 but I did, at least, feel like I was understanding the material. I may have been interpreting it wrongly but I was understanding it on a level! 

Block 2 has started in a very different manner! Firstly I have not yet received a mark for my first TMA and am feeling mildly insecure about that. I really want a mark.... but I really don't want a bad mark! 

Our first few activities were to do with Learning Design (which I think means lesson planning!) and I have been confused! It took me a while to realize that all eight lesson plans were for the same lesson and it was the actual lesson planning design template which we were assessing. This, once it became clear, was actually interesting. I have asked my Facebook friends (loads of teachers there!) how they plan lessons. I have had a number of responses but they've mainly been to do with sticking to the curriculum than with the template they use. I need to find a way of asking the same question in a less ambiguous way. I can see that a good lesson plan may make the process of teaching, and learning, more satisfying even if the essential elements of the lesson were unchanged. 

I've also decided to go back to basics and become a bit more familiar with some of the basic theories of learning. The words 'behaviourist' and 'constructivist' are being used as if we should know what they mean... so maybe I should! Early on in H800 someone linked to a marvelous website which gives concise and easy to understand definitions so I plan to read them, blog about them and refer to them as I move forward. 

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Getting away from it all and Getting it

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Twice this week I have read a paper, found it impossible to comprehend, and then abandoned it for a while. 

The paper by Zimmerman about IALC (Interpersonal Action Learning Cycle) felt preachy and irritating before coffee with friends and a workout at the gym.... but somehow made a lot more sense afterwards!

The exercise about Learning Design almost reduced me to tear before I did some mum taxi duties and made a sandwich and now I think I get what the exercise is about (though the fine detail may still require wine!). 

I wonder if my subconscious is working away at some of this even when I am not concentrating on it. I have had a few 'light bulb' moments when I've stepped away from the laptop and the OU website for a few hours. 

I approached this course with a traditional education model in mind (how stupid am I?) and expected to be able to read diligently and listen carefully and then simply understand the material. I was not prepared for post graduate study to ask more of me than that. However - I can absolutely see the value in this way. It's just hard work! 

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