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Learning through sharing (Activity 1.4)

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I used to play rugby. This is probably the sport which is most geared to team play. Even in football you can be an individually brilliant player but in rugby you are nothing without the rest of the team. Team play is a key part of the game: linking with the other players is an assumed part of the skillset.

Diagramme showing rugby players

(This diagramme from RugbyCoachWeekly shows how important linking between team members is in rugby.)

Academia is very different. Although my work is mainly teaching, and teaching in a team rather than as a sole operator, there is a strong individualistic ethos. In teaching collaboration is made more difficult because there is no convention for acknowledging teaching materials when these are shared, as there is in research and publication. There's no incentive to share good ideas about teaching.

Managers seem to expect teamwork to happen out of thin air. For example, since students are thought to be on Facebook a lot, there is an expectation that they will be happy to go on Forums to chat. However students are shy and anxious about putting themselves forward on a module forum, they frequently talk about fearing they will be judged or that their ideas might be ‘stolen’.

Image incorporating various social media logos

(In the article which this image illustrates, the author talks about how to get an ad better placed in Facebook - showing how hard many people work to establish an apparently effortless community feeling online.)

John Seely Brown (The Open University 2017) mentions our lack of trust in others as a problem preventing working as if in a ‘studio’.

Trust has to be built, it doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Facebook relies on the trust people have built up offline with the people they ‘friend’ online. Some way needs to be found to build relationships between students so that they trust each other enough to post together.

Some students have spoken about picture-avatars as a means to do this. I don’t use one myself, though, for reasons I will write about in a different blogpost.

The Open University, 2017. 'Open Architectural Studio' [Video] H818 The networked practitioner. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1097701&section=4.2 (accessed 20/09/2017).

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Black cat sitting up in bed with a pink blanket

Activity 1.2 Reflection on learning

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Monday, 18 Sep 2017, 11:51

Here we're asked to reflect on a previous learning experience. I'm going to use the studies I did on the eLATE(D) module, a 12 week course on e-learning (which I've written about on my Tutor's blog: https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=162665). 

  • Experience: what was the context of the learning? What did you actually do during and after the learning experience? What else happened?
This was a professional development module I did two years ago. I had been very keen for a while to develop my online teaching skills. It was quite hard to find out about the courses which are available to Open University tutors to support our professional development, but one day I saw an email pop up about e(LATE)D, and hurriedly signed up to the course.
  • Personal: What was your perspective on the learning experience? How did you perceive the situation? What were your assumptions and beliefs about the situation?
I assumed that as I already had substantial experience in teaching online, this would be a rubber stamp for my knowledge. I would be able to 'prove' that I had those skills by pointing to my course certificate approve

Course website with sticker in front of it saying "social media ninja"

I expected to cruise through the course without learning very much.

  • Feelings: How did your feelings about the learning experience change from anticipation through to completion? Did you enjoy it? Did it make you uncertain, or nervous? If you found the learning difficult, did this cause frustration? Which aspects of the learning experience led to positive feelings, and which to negative? Did other things affect your mood at the time, for example work or family events? Did your feelings influence your intentions or change your behaviour?
e(LATE)D was a much more interesting course than I had imagined it would be. It introduced me to a body of literature about online education which I had not realised existed. I was also forced to read pedagogic literature: literature about teaching, which I had never bothered to do in the past because a) I had very little time, b) I always get great feedback on my teaching so assumed I didn't need to do so. I don't say I learned a great deal about teaching, most of my reading confirmed that the way I teach is good practice, but the reading allowed me to reflect on my teaching practice, and to reference my thinking about it with more authority when talking about it.

I did learn a lot about online teaching. Much of this was because of an opportunity to discuss online teaching with others - to figure things out in conversation on forums and through submitted coursework, rather than just Carry On Online Teaching on my own.

There was a form to fill in at the start of the module which helped you to see if you would have enough time to do it. I didn't have enough time to fill that in, so I just signed up and got on with it big grin I was often frustrated by the lack of time I had to commit to my studies. I have substantial family commitments, and had to miss a couple of tutorials in order to give time to the family. I always meant to listen to the recordings of them, but I was so frustrated by missing out on them that I never managed to do this.

Many other tutors dropped out of the module as we went on. I hung on to the end, handing work in late and using forums - as I could post after the deadline on these. I often 'blurted' on forums, posting emoticons about trying to catch up.
  • Critical stance: Reviewing your notes so far, identify any assumptions you have made and ask if they are justified. Are there other questions you could ask of yourself to deepen your understanding of your learning?
I assumed my practical experience in teaching didn't require input from pedagogic literature.

I didn't realise how out of practice I am at writing up my work in the style of an academic paper.

I assumed I could speed through the module without engaging deeply in it, and do it more quickly than the allocated time provided for.

  • Perspective: Were others involved in this learning experience? If so, what might be their perspective and what could you learn from this? Are you aware of literature that relates to your experience, and if so how does it relate? Is the social context important for your experience, and if so how is it important? Is the historical context important for your experience, and if so how is it important? Are ethics important for your experience, and if so how are they important?
I was to get feedback from a peer on the course, and give feedback to another peer. I wrote up my experience of this on my blog: https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=162678. It was a lesson to me not only in terms of the feedback I got, but also in how students approach assignments! I am shocked when I think how cavalier I was about reading the carefully designed Student Notes which aim to support writing up of assignments surprise

We were all also supposed to take part in forum discussions. I threw myself into these with enthusiasm, as I love forum posting. I was disappointed in how disengaged many of my colleagues seemed to be. I knew there were many of us on the module, and at the end I could see that there were a lot of people who just worked through without connecting with the rest of us on the forums. I have never quite understood whether other people just don't like forums? I do wonder sometimes if my enthusiastic style puts people off.

  • Outcome: What did you learn from the experience? And what have you learnt from this activity about yourself as a learner? Are there implications for your H818 studies? Would you do anything different in the future? Would you continue to do the same or do it differently now? In either case say why.
I learned that I can be an impatient learner, skipping sections of the study material and exercises which I think are beneath me. On H818, I plan to do the exercises as carefully as I can regardless. I don't have much more time these days than I did back then! but by humbly observing my own students, I have been able to see how the more successful ones plan and commit time to their studies. I am always advising students that prioritising their studies doesn't mean they are putting their families second - children see us concentrating on our studies and do the same on their schoolwork. I learned to prioritise my own studies.

I remain very keen on forum usage as a means of learning/teaching. I shall carry on taking enthusiastic part, and ask for more feedback about my forum posting style on H818. (I have learned more about this on a three week Tutor Moderator course as well.) It's likely that I will look at forums for my project for H818.

I got a great perspective into what students actually do by being a student myself! and have been able to take this back into designing my teaching support. 

I think I was a poor e(LATE)D student: skipping sections, filling in parts late, rushing my work, however I learned loads. I was able to build on the piece of work I wrote, and start developing it as an application for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (for various reasons not yet completed!). I learned that sometimes it can take a while, especially when you have other responsibilities in life. The main thing is to start your learning journey and focus on the learning, not the certificate. 

Although I did feel very proud that I struggled through the course, and got my certificate in the end approve

Course certificate

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