Sunday, 22 February 2009

Ning Digifolios and Personal Learning Spaces Feedback

The end of the journey?
Well, I have just finished a six-week online course with EVO on Ning and my life is going to feel a bit empty! I have met an incredible group of teachers, educators, motivators and contributors from all over the world. Thank you so much everyone for making it so worthwhile.
Below is an amazing video created by Jane Challinor and Maria Joao, two of my fellow participants.

The online workshop involved a lot of tasks such as
  • participating in live debates on subjects such as online safety digital story telling
  • creating a blog for personal reflections
  • collaborating on tasks
  • group projects
  • presenting videos
  • joining discussion groups
  • sharing photos
  • sharing articles of interest
  • sharing ideas and stories
  • developing an online presence

These activities were all meaningful and geared towards enriching our learning experience.

Towards a digital ID
The question of presenting an online identity brought up many interesting issues. The "private self" versus the "public self". How do they interact with one another? How can we present ourselves in a safe and constructive way? Should there be defined areas of privacy? An online journey has many variables - we only find out what these variables are when we have the courage to embark on this journey into the unknown.

The idea of sharing my learning journey with like-minded people in whatever way possible has been very enlightening. The idea of a global educational village in cyberspace has been mind blowing.

Ciao, Hola, Guten Tag!
During the course, I have had the opportunity to practise some languages that have been gathering dust!. Using 3 languages on the same platform was absolutely amazing and it was very challenging. I enjoyed brushing up my use of German, Spanish and Italian. Apologies in advance to all of you who are purists and linguists- please forgive any mistakes! The aim was to have fun exploiting the language and discussing different topics of interest.

Below is something I wrote in German in the "Hier Werden Sie geholfen" group:

"Diese Nacht ist Skype mein Lieblings-Tool! Ich habe jetzt via Medium Skype Englisch unterrichtet und es macht mir viel Spass! Ich glaube fur 30 Minuten ist es sehr gut fur eine"virtuelle" Klasse. Vielleicht nicht so gut fur mehr Zeit? Meine Praxis hat verandert ein Bischen. Ich kann nicht am "Whiteboard" schreiben und normalerweise, habe ich gern diese zu tun. Trotzdem, kann ich sofort ein e-mail senden nach die Klasse mit Noten fur die Studente und dass ist gut.
Jemand hat gute Hinweise fur via Skype zu unterrichten? Ich mochte gern lernen!"

Here is something I wrote in Spanish in the "Se habla Espanol" group:

Hola todos del grupo
Que tal? Espero que vayan bien?
He leido Isabel allende, Cuentos de Eva Luna, y me gusto mucho. No he leido en espanol desde hace muchos anos. Me encanta esta lengua y me gusta esta ocasion en el grupo para praticar mi espanol.

Alguien ha leido algo de Salvador de Madariaga? Quando yo era mas joven, y el estava en esilio en Inglaterra, yo lo encontre en Oxford y hable con el. (Mi padre fue su jardinero privado). Escribio "El Corazon de Piedra Verde" y muchas otras cosas politicas y novelas historicas. Fue un gran placer encontrarlo.

Here is something I posted in the "Buon Giorno Italia" group I set up:

"Potrebbe mai imaginare il mondo senza tecnologia? Sarebbe veramente vuoto o forse una cosa per il bene?

Credo che Io non posso tornare indietro perche adesso la mia vita dipende sulla tecnologia che mi circonda da per tutto.

Mi mancarebbe tanto l'uso del internet. Ogni giorno trovo qualcosa nuova che mi serve. Non potere communicare con famiglia o amici tramite email sarebbe molto difficile.

Che ne pensate su questa tema? Che cosa non potete vivere senza? "

My amazing tutors
The tutors on this course have been absolutely fantastic and in particular,Cristina Costa and Nellie Deutsch have been so helpful and I have learned so much from them. They have shared their experiences and motivated me to do my best. They have shown me all about what a good educator and mentor should be like. Patient, kind, helpful, interested, enthusiastic, motivated and motivating, dynamic,caring, the list is endless.

The Journey is only beginning
I am in the wilds of Abruzzo and yet I have connected with people from all over the world and shared a journey with them on a daily basis. Apart from 2 weeks when I was "off-line" , my daily routine has consisted of keeping up with all the messages, emails, questions, sharing of ideas, discussing, giving opinions, and so on. It has indeed been something unique and exciting. I have been a student again and the process of learning new things has forced me to re-assess how I am as a teacher.

So, how am I as a teacher?
I have always been "strict", maybe even "rigid", always in control, always well prepared, always with a firm aim and objective. Maybe all these are good, but maybe is it time for a change? Teaching is geared to be more fluid, reflective, subjective, interactive and here is the biggie - more technological.

21st century teaching? It involves learning from the past. It involves re-assessing the present. It involves embracing the future with all our heart and soul.

View my page on Digifolios and Personal Learning Spaces


Cristina Costa said...

Again. It's hard to add anything new to your thoughts. I believe exactly in what you say... I feel the same. This was a great opportunity to make connections without the constraints of space or time, or even any other barriers. I felt things have run so smoothly despite all the different opinions we shared. But isn't that the richness of learning in group and sharing our believes with others? If we all agreed, if we all had the same ideas and made the same experiences, what else would there be to explore but uniformity? What would be the challenge? It's the difference that makes learning exciting and worth experiencing. A couple of years ago (well…I was still in high school!!!) there was a campaign about 'All different; All the same' - although it focused on other issues than learning the fact is that that phrase stayed with me until today, because it's true...we are all different, but we are equally all looking for the same thing: to personally connect to this world (and to others) try to get a deeper understanding of our mission on earth and of our job as educators… we all want to learn and we have grabbed this opportunity to do so. And it is the differences we display that unite us and make us grow as a coherent group, as we challenge ourselves with our visions and ideas. On the way wile doing so [the process], we might change opinions (learning is also about growing with that change), renovate practices, adopt new ways of leading our professional, and personal, life... Learning is about exploring and transforming…allowing that transformation to take place…
My grandfather used to say: ‘you will never stop doesn't matter how hard you try’. At first it might sound quite disappointing, but the fact is that it is not a big just means we are still open to understand the world around us…and that is crucial. In the end is about personal development with others because people are no islands...and if books were once an efficient vehicle to disseminate knowledge, today the web has a more effective impact where not only publishing information, but also making sense of that information is concerned. [having said that I still value books, but they are not the only treasure of my learning anymore].
Times have changed. We need not to forget the past, but we also need to look ahead while embracing the present, like you rightly said. In a last note, as this comment has grown long (again!), I can't agree more with you. That who ceases to learn, won't be able to do a good job at teaching. There is nothing like being in our students' shoes to know exactly what it takes to be makes us better practitioners too, I guess.
I came from a military background, but before that I got my education as a civilian. I don’t know if it has anything to do with it, but I never saw military instruction the same way my mates did. For me, a leader has to inspire, not order; and if you want your platoon to follow you, you need to be in that platoon. You cannot command from an outside position, if you want to get their respect and gain their hearts. And that is when the platoon works better – when all hands (the people in the platoon) are in synch and work as one soul. That is team work and group effort, and that takes a lot of trust in your mates and in your leader… and probably also what the Germans call ‘mitmachen’. I can’t think of a better word!
Let’s keep this and many other conversations going. We have so much to share and learn! ;-)

LLJB said...

Dear Cristina

Thank you so much for your very thoughtful feedback and analysis of what I was trying to convey.

I have always been and I guess I always will be the "quiet one" in group work on a F2F basis. It used to worry me when I would sit back and listen to the more extrovert members of any group take the lead and direction in a debate or discussion. I felt I had no voice. Now, I do not fight this feeling. I accept I am the quiet one, but from time to time, I do "wake up"!

What I have found with online situations is that we are all equal-there is no way to know if someone has a "stronger force" than another and maybe that is why I feel quite comfortable in this medium. All barriers are down, we all have an equal voice and status.

I like the expression "mitmachen". Does it translate as "make/do together = co-operate = collaborate? That is what the course was all about for me, personally. Working together for a unifying purpose. That of learning in order to become a better educator.

Thank you, Cristina for taking the time to add to this discusson.