eLearning as a profession (Unit 5)

Core activity 5.1: mapping elearning as a profession

In my recent assignment I reflected on the context in which I might define myself as an ‘elearning practitioner’. The first time I really identified myself with the ‘world of elearning’ was when I studied my first module on the OU MA course. Since then I have started working in a role where I am managing the development of interactive training modules.
When contemplating what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’, I feel that I don’t readily identify myself as an ‘elearning practitioner’, I feel my participation as a student in the OU MA modules is what gives me my ‘elearning identity’, which combined with my workplace  learning will provide me with the skills I feel I need to enable me to identify myself in future as an ‘elearning practitioner’ or professional.

My view of elearning as a profession
I decided to ‘brainstorm’ a healthcare profession that I am familiar with, the Chiropractic profession, identifying the core elements of what constitutes being a professional, and then tried to reflect this for the elearning professional…

The thing that I struggle with is that I see a Chiropractor as a distinct professional, with clearly defined requirements for education and practice, professional associations and a governing body (UK perspective) etc.

However, I still haven’t identified an elearning profession or professional as a distinct and easily represented field of practice. To me it is one aspect of various professions, where technology and the associated pedagogy can be adopted to deliver learning. The professional may come from a diverse range of backgrounds, whether IT, education or subject specific and brings a broad range of skills, expertise and knowledge to their role. However, to be confident in delivering an aspect of their role that is elearning, I believe they do need to have some level of knowledge and skills with different technologies, as well as an understanding of the theory behind applying these in practice. They need to be aware of the needs of their audience/clients and how best to meet these in terms of their approach to learning enhanced by technology.

What this mapping activity has also highlighted for me is that I know very little about the world of ‘elearning’ in terms of qualifications or professional associations and many other aspects.

Having posted this brief summary I am going to delve in to some of the course forums and see what others have identified as core to the elearning profession(al) and then revisit my thinking . . .

Advertisements
Posted in eLearning profession, practice-related skills, reflection, technology skills, Unit 5 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Writing my first assignment

A reflection on the process of writing my first assignment for this module.

As I was working on my assignment I wrote down how I felt about the process . . .

I spent some time exploring the essay question and instructions, outlining the requirements, allocation of marks to each section etc. Probably spent too long on this but it gives me a sense of having at least made a start. . . ! Or am I just putting off really getting properly started?

So, I began at the beginning (where else?!) and made reasonable but very slow progress. I tend to rewrite the first bit several times and only later remind myself to just get it down and worry about
rearranging paragraphs etc. later.

I noticed that I am enjoying it, even though it is slow, providing an opportunity to delve back into content covered earlier in the course.

Whilst I am feeling confident and making progress it is good. However, I need to take breaks when I start to doubt what I’ve done so far, and come back to it refreshed. Otherwise I start rearranging bits and a sense of panic can set in!

Why all of a sudden is there so much to say but so few words allowed! I know it’s a good discipline but I want it to read well and could say so much more . . .

So, in one weekend I made good progress on the essay, and did some further reading and reflection on it early the next week.

Later in the week I focused on the reflection, training myself to try to write more freely and in reflective rather than academic style. I adopted the technique of reading aloud as I wrote to try to have a more conversational style. This was a much quicker element to write than the essay and I enjoyed it.

It was difficult to select appropriate evidence to support my claims in my reflection, there seemed to be several good pieces but being restricted to only four meant being selective . . . I’m not sure how well I’ve done on that bit but will find out from my assessment feedback!

Having got both elements of the assignment fully drafted any slight sense of panic over whether I’ve really responded to all the requirements etc., tends to give way to a feeling of acceptance . . .  that I could continue to work on it, but I take a pragmatic approach . . . that I’ve got to call a halt to it at some point and well ahead of the deadline would be nice (for a change :-)).

On my last day I updated my essay – it was good coming back to it after a week, I felt much less emotionally attached to all those carefully crafted paragraphs and more able to edit and rearrange (much-needed as at this stage I was well over the 1500 word limit).

I had been relatively disciplined in adding references as I used them, so I had a complete list that just needed a final check and edit.

I did a test submission before the final one, and have amazed myself that I’ve managed to submit on Saturday evening, well before the final deadline of Monday midday. I do have the option to review again and resubmit if I’m not happy, but to be honest I feel I have put enough into this first assignment and just want to leave it at that (hope I don’t regret that!).

Final reflection
Once I got into it I enjoyed the process and think it was good to start with the essay first, which was interesting and useful, revisiting earlier readings and the thinking around the topics and exploring some new readings too. The reflective commentary is a new component of a summative assessment for me, and is supposed be quite personal in terms of style and approach. I still feel my style is quite academic and constrained, but perhaps I have to accept that is just how I am, at least when I’m reflecting on my learning (not sure those who know me well would ever describe me in those terms)?!

The challenge as always, with both elements, was being able to focus on the requirements laid out for the assignment, covering everything I wanted to within the word count (1500 for the essay, 1000 for the reflective commentary). However, with generous application of the ‘delete’ key I’ve managed to get it down to within 3 words of the total word allowance!! Success on one of the requirements at least 🙂

Posted in H808, practice-related skills, reflection | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Learning objectives and action planning (Unit 3)

In my last posting I described the process of conducting a learning needs analysis, associated with my project management role in a commercial elearning company. From this I have developed some key learning objectives, areas where I need to further develop my understanding or skills.

My weaknesses
So, I’m not surprised that ‘technology related skills and knowledge’  is the core area where I need to develop. Going into this role I knew that my technology related skills and knowledge felt like a ‘deep black hole’ . . . although I’m glad to reflect that that was also how I felt about eLearning in general 18 months ago, before I started out on the OU course modules which have given me a great foundation on which to build, so I know I can do something about the black hole.

Technology
Earlier this year, a friend who is very hands-on with technology asked me if I was familiar with using Articulate . . . to which I replied “We’ve got the game at home and we’ve played it a few times”  . . . to which she responded “I’ll take that as a no then!”.

I hesitate to use the word technophobe, and I don’t think I am, but I’m certainly not a natural when it comes to technology, certainly not when it requires more than skimming the surface . . . so I’m ok with using twitter, facebook and similar tools where I find them to be user-friendly, particularly if I have a reason for using them and see a real benefit. However, what I’m now coming across at work is a need to have a deeper working understanding of things less familiar to me, that I might not have to be hands-on with, but that I need to be able to discuss the use of, outputs etc.

My learning objectives.
I have drafted my learning objectives and action plan, it needs a bit more work, especially around the timeline for each objective, but I’m  happy enough to take it to work and share it with my mentor. I think it will be really useful to share it with someone who understands my work context, who can help me identify the priorities and give some practical advice on how to approach the action points.

What I want to do is to make this more than just a document, but something that motivates me to address my weaknesses, reminding me what I’ve set out to achieve and how I plan to go about it. Something to revisit over time, that can evolve, and will lead me to realise success in addressing my weaknesses.

I should also be encouraged about addressing the ‘deep black hole’ when I look at some of my comments on my needs analysis grid . . .  I can see that I already feel I am making some progress, just by working in an environment where I am engaging with some of the technologies on a daily basis, and having to communicate about these with experts. I also think that at times it may just be the terminology that is tripping me up, not necessarily an inability to develop my understanding, so I’ve developed the idea to put together my own glossary of terms and mini ‘how to’ guides to help me with the process of familiarising myself with some of the terminology and processes.

Finally, I’m happy to report that I am now more familiar with Articulate the technology! I’m also about to learn a lot more as I am managing two projects where we’re developing some eLearning modules in Articulate, providing me with a good reason to dive into the black hole and engage more with this technology.

Posted in H808, practice-related skills, reflection, technology skills, Unit 3 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Personal and professional development planning (Unit 3)

Core Activity 3.4: Reflecting on personal and professional development planning (PDP)

This has been a useful week, I’ve been working on a personal development needs analysis which I decided to use to focus on the skills and competencies that I need for my current work, rather than for my current studying. I am in the early stages of a career change and although I have many years of academic publishing experience, I am transferring these skills to a new career in eLearning.

I produced quite an extensive needs analysis grid, based on the job description for my role as an Account Manager in a commercial company developing educational media. The actual role is as a project manager, overseeing the development of a range of interactive learning materials  e.g. half hour modules developed in Articulate, or 5-10 minute animated presentations or interactive tasks (in my first two months).

The skills and competencies broke down into core areas of:

  • Project management
  • Client management
  • Communication
  • Commercial and financial
  • Sales Support
  • Knowledge and technical skills

Within these I ended up with 45 individual skills or competencies, rather more than the recommended 10-20! The grid I was using then had a rating scale to apply to each entry, ranging from ‘complete novice’ to ‘expert’. I rated each one by comparing myself to A.N.Other account manager – an experienced colleague I work alongside, and also by relating my years of publishing experience and skills to my current work context.

Interestingly I didn’t rate myself as ‘expert’ for any of the skills . . . I think is because I am so new to my current working context that it seems rather presumptuous to consider myself an expert after barely two months. However, if I had been applying this rating to my previous working context I know I would have certainly rated myself as ‘expert’ in many areas, because I was so familiar with the context, with over 15 years in the company and over 20 in the industry, and comfortable in my role as a senior manager.

Having written that down it makes me nervous realising how new I am in my current role, but I also need to remind myself that those 20+ years in another industry are very relevant to what I am doing now, not least because they were all years working on healthcare related books and journals which were educational materials and my current role is working with similar content, just in different media. Complementary to that experience is my learning as I progress through modules on this OU course, learning more about delivering education online, and my day-to-day work is starting to give me practical hands-on experience, seeing the theory applied in practice.

Back to my grid – follow this link, the next step is to develop a set of learning objectives for my personal development, based on the outcome of my ratings and from these identifying areas of weakness and opportunities for further development. To do this I reduced the grid down to a core of 14 competencies, just over half of these I rated myself as ‘average’ and the remainder as ‘below average’ – this is very subjective, showing how I compare myself to my more experienced colleague. It helps that I identify my colleague as a successful account manager and a good mentor for me, providing many examples of best practice and behaviours for me to emulate.

In my next post I’ll go on to explore my weaknesses and the objectives I’m setting myself to address these.

A parting reflection . . . identifying and admitting to weaknesses isn’t an easy thing to do, it’s more natural to identify strengths – but what I’ve come to realise is that a weakness isn’t a problem, as long as you are prepared to do something positive about it.

Posted in H808, practice-related skills, reflection, Unit 3 | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Core Activity 2.5: What constitutes good reflective writing – advice for students

Rabbit’s clever” said Pooh thoughtfully
. . . “And he has Brain.”

There was a long silence

I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”

Reflective writing is very personal, just like the process of reflection and ultimately there is no right or wrong way; however, for a good piece of reflective writing there are some core areas of content to be considered, as well as perspectives of style and approach that should also be addressed. What is required is a personal account which goes deeper than a descriptive account of the event, to provide a real insight into how you responded in terms of your feelings, emotions and behaviour. From this initial reflection, learning needs or changes should be detailed, leading to a proposal of how you would respond differently in a similar situation in future.

In addition, if a piece of reflective writing is to be assessed then you need to address the specified assessment criteria.

A good example of a piece of reflective writing will begin with a description of ‘the event’ or experience. This puts the situation into context, providing sufficient detail to introduce it without going into too much detail. The writing should then move on to provide an account of ‘what happened’ in terms of how you felt, others’ behaviour and related events. At this stage you should provide evidence of self-awareness – critical analysis of your behaviour and an awareness of your own thoughts and actions, demonstrating reflection on this.

Following on from ‘what happened’ the writing should demonstrate further reflection to consider the ‘so what’ .i.e. what has been learnt from the process of reflecting on what happened and how you reacted. This should provide evidence of deeper reflection, linking this recent experience to other related experiences and to your current understanding and knowledge and the views of others. This deeper reflection should lead to evidence of your learning and development following on from the event described, suggesting how you see things differently now, and what impact looking back has had on your current thinking.

In concluding you should demonstrate the application of your learning by proposing ‘what now’ e.g. what are the identified learning or training needs resulting from the reflection, or a suggestion of what you would do differently next time, in a similar situation, perhaps a change in behaviour or a different approach. Thus this section documents the outcomes of the reflective process and also evidences your personal development resulting from this.

Reflection provides the opportunity to step back from a situation and see it in a different light and this same approach should be applied to writing about it. Take time to review your writing, check that you have provided a true and coherent account of the event, but more importantly that you have written an authentic account of your reflection and that your identified learning and personal development is believable.

Quote taken from The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

(482 words)

Posted in H808, practice-related skills, reflection, Unit 2 | Leave a comment

Trying out eportfolio software – foliofor.me (Unit 3)

Core Activity 3.1: understanding eportfolio software

Having an eportfolio is a new concept for me, so following advice from others I’ve given foliofor.me a go. It’s been a bit of a frustrating process, but that is possibly partly me, I need things to be very straightforward . . .

f4me (my chosen abbreviation) offers some of the core functionality required of an eportfolio system:

  • Ability to import files including video, photos etc
  • Write into a journal (blog) for reflection
  • Plan your learning and personal development and record your achievements
  • Create pages of content, add pictures etc work collaboratively on content development
  • Share content and publish collections
  • Present content for formal assessment
  • Create your CV
  • Export content to another location
  • Create groups of users

It is based on the Mahara open source software and originated in New Zealand. I’ve found various other eportfolios based on this including FolioSpaces which looks very similar.

However, on my first attempt to populate my portfolio with any content (such as a response to one of my course activities) I struggled – I didn’t find it very intuitive, there was mention of using ‘code’ to do some things (that fills me with fear). I couldn’t find a ‘help’ button or obvious ‘hints and tips’ section.  I want to link this blog to it but so for can only find the proprietary blog pages and the help link I eventually found didn’t seem to work and the only link to ‘tutorials’ was to a commercial provider, nothing for free! Of course, there is google and youtube to find help, but I did expect to find it within the site itself – not unreasonable.

This left me feeling a bit knocked back and lacking in confidence. It also saps my energy when things don’t happen, when I think I’ve done all the right things, and my page still doesn’t appear . . .

One good thing was that, when I went back to my course forum and posted a message about my frustrations, I was rewarded overnight with a step-by-step guide from Ian and a screencast from Clem of how to load content to a page! This actually gave Clem a learning opportunity – he’d meant to try doing a screencast before (short ‘video’ sharing his screen, demonstrating step-by-step process, with audio) and it showed me that I shouldn’t suffer in silence!

Ian congratulated me on my success when my page did appear and has also set up a group discussion asking others how they are finding foliofor.me. This has encouraged me to log back in and make a contribution to the group discussion and to continue to explore the functionality.

So now, I can post a more positive note on collaboration and proactivity than I did a couple of nights ago, and I have a bit more enthusiasm to go back and master my f4me eportfolio.

 I hope I’ll be sharing it more widely once there’s something to share!

Posted in H808, proactivity, reflection, technology skills, Unit 3 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pro-activity and collaboration (Unit 2)

Our latest two-week unit of study (Unit 2) required some collaborative activity. This proved to be a bit of a challenge for many of us . . . just trying to find the time to contribute during the one week assigned, even when it is asynchronous collaboration.

In the second week there were several activities encouraging us to discuss our thoughts in the tutor group forum. I didn’t really get to those activities until late in the week and I was surprised to find that no one had posted anything to the forums. Although we were instructed to do so, and to use some of the discussion in our summaries of the activities. Hard to draw on others’ thoughts when there aren’t any! I’ve also visited a few of the tutor groups’ blogs and haven’t found very much there either . . .

This is a bit frustrating and as I write this I wonder if I should post something into the forum. It is a useful opportunity to do some research – to ask others their reasons. . .

I’m also concerned about the need to be proactive – ‘your capacity to communicate proactively with others with whom you share an elearning context, to lead, inform, or otherwise motivate them’ (H808 Module Guide, P3). Actually, having read that I think it’s an opportunity for me to be proactive, although I don’t want to come across as hassling others!

In the context of being an elearning practitioner, this also raises the issue of how you can motivate learners to contribute, especially when the workload may seem to be heavy and so learners will prioritize their time for those things they identify as important to their own learning.  .  .

On the other hand there is also an element of group responsibility – to others in the group. It’s interesting because on my previous course H800 there was a very active forum, maybe because most of the activities required discussion in the forums and not reflections, so maybe people are concentrating on their blogs and eportfolios rather than the forums. The opposite to H800 where I hardly used my blog, even when it was prescribed, preferring to use the forum where a discussion could evolve in one location.

Right, off to the forum to post a carefully worded question to others about collaboration/communication/proactivity.
http://learn.open.ac.uk/mod/forumng/discuss.php?d=675130#p5209771

Posted in communication skills, H808, proactivity, Unit 2 | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Reflecting on my attitude to ‘learning through reflection’ & the use of blogs (Unit 2)

Core Activity 2.4: Reflection and learning

Here’s a challenge – reflecting on reflecting! In response to a prescribed activity and readings I’ve made some notes on ‘learning through reflection’ and the challenge of assessing reflection and now I’m required to reflect on my attitude to ‘learning through reflection’ and whether blogging is a useful way to do this.

I’m finding it interesting, feels like this is ‘my kind of thing’, getting inside my head a bit and taking time to . . . . reflect (of course!).

My attitude
I think in everyday life I probably do take time to reflect, often on ‘the bigger picture’ . . . which most recently led to my decision to take a career break, so I’d say it’s a good thing to take time to reflect – I liked that particular outcome :-). Moon (2005) referred to a ‘common-sense’ approach to reflection and having a purpose for reflecting, or just ‘being reflective,’ possibly with a subconscious purpose, also leading to a useful outcome. This I found an easy concept to grasp and relate to. An everyday process; I’ve always kept a diary, although it does tend to be a record of events more than feelings . . . more on that later.

From the readings, the next level is to think about the application of the reflective process to more complex situations, where perhaps there is not an obvious solution and we may draw on previous experience and other knowledge to work through the situation. In the learning context, this can lead to making meaning of the learning, making connections with other learning and ‘transforming’ current understanding and reaching a deeper level of understanding.

This next level of reflection is what I do as I work through the readings, making notes and reprocessing and representing the information in a way that is more meaningful to me.

So I think I am very open to reflection, recognising that for me it already has a place in everyday life and I can see that it is a valuable competency to develop and apply to the process of learning.

The process
However, the challenge I face is that my approach to reflective writing is quite constrained . . . this early on in the course my style of reflective writing feels quite academic and structured – perhaps because I feel I’ve only just managed to find my academic writing style . . . and now I’m being asked to be informal!

I feel the need to set the scene and summarise some of my reading before I get near to my thoughts and feelings (if I do get that far)  . . . I also tend to write for an audience, aware of how I’m presenting myself, rather than just focusing on the personal account. A bit like my diary then, more a record of events than a personal account reflecting any emotions or feelings.

Another reason for this may be my professional background, originally a scientist and so required to write reports, often a quantitative rather than qualitative approach. Moon (2001) mentioned how some subjects may, by nature, encourage reflective writing more than others. Similarly, some professions will prescribe reflective practice for continuing professional development and evidence of this reflection as part of a revalidation process.

Blogging as a tool for reflection
My experience of blogging so far has been a positive one and I do think it is a useful tool for recording not only the product of reflection but also providing evidence of the process. As an online tool it enables sharing of reflections and facilitates feedback and, where required, assessment of these. It can be relatively easily integrated into an ePortfolio and provides a useful record. Video and audio diaries are also another approach, although for me I like the visual written record, something that as a learner I can go back to, scan or contemplate at my own pace. I like the creative aspect of  a blog, how easy it is to add illustrations or photos and I enjoy the aspect of an audience and receiving feedback, and the ability to carefully (perhaps too carefully) craft my writing.

For others though, I can see that the sharing of reflections, thoughts and feelings can be an uncomfortable experience; even if the process itself is a useful one, having to provide evidence to share can be off-putting and lead to users shying away from blogging.

One thing I’ll remember – there’s no right or wrong way to reflect . . . and I’ve got room for improvement!

Moon, J. (2001) ‘PDP working paper 4: reflection in higher education learning’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning.rtf (last accessed 26 September 2011).

Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc (last accessed 26 September 2011).

Posted in H808, reflection, Unit 2 | Tagged | 5 Comments

An ePortfolio case study reflection (Unit 2)

Core Activity 2.3: ePortfolio case study

Organisational transformation at Windesheim University (Netherlands) – 2001.

This project aimed to embed the use of ePortfolios as a ‘fundamental cornerstone for the pedagogical process . . . and the educational institute’s administrative processes’ (Aalderink, 2005), into both the student and faculty workflows across all courses.

It reported on a project piloting the role out of an ePortfolio tool and supporting process, in 5 out of  10 departments, with the ultimate aim of using ePortfolios for the primary course functions of counselling, assessing and planning.

Anticipated outcomes

  1. Improved management and administrative processes
  2. Enhanced efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning
  3. Better support for students in acquiring relevant competencies (use of technology, employment related etc)
  4. Students and faculty able to more easily reflect on their progress, needs and next steps – personal development planning (PDP)
  5. A more flexible and transparent workflow for all stakeholders

Issues faced

Similar to another case study in the same paper, the following issues were
raised:

  1. The need to manage different stakeholder expectations, keeping them aligned in the project (students, teachers, coaches, assessors)
  2. The sharing of information and feedback for an iterative process
  3. The need for management level input and strategic vision to support implementation
  4. The need for support from both IT and Education Development
  5. Technical issues – the ePortfolio was one technology in a larger technical configuration

Conclusion

The ePortfolio was intended to help the users by supporting the organisation, planning and management of learning, embedded into the existing educational and administrative processes. I saw it as providing one ‘go to place’ for access to prescribed learning activities, evidence of completion of these and enabling feedback, with a record of evidence of assessment and achievements.

The report provided no real detail of the pedagogical  aspects and how this was supported e.g to what extent the learning products or the engagements with the processes around the use of the ePortfolio were  supported and assessed.

Looking back to the earlier activity identifying the drivers  behind ePortfolio implementation (Core activity 2.1), I can see this case study reflected a number of the drivers shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 – ‘Blue’ tutor group summary of key drivers for ePortfolio implementation

With regard to the issues raised, I could identify with several of these; managing stakeholder expectations and in particular being able to align these with the end deliverable without going out of scope. Also, I have often experienced a high level of senior management interest at the beginning and end of a project but ‘radio silence’ during the middle, just when the real issues begin to surface and need escalating!

This case study didn’t give the impression that the issues were insurmountable, it offered a list of key issues to be aware of when planning ePortfolio implementation. The article concluded that ‘folio thinking’ was a strong theme for the Netherlands and a part of the continued implementation of elearning and pedagogical change in education.

(490 words)

Aalderinck, W. and Veugelers, M. (2005) ‘E-portfolio’s [sic] in The Netherlands: stimulus for educational change and life long learning’ (online), paper presented at the EDEN 2005 conference in Helsinki,Finland, Portfolio Themasite. Available from: http://www.icto.ic.uva.nl/surf/nl_portfolio/Publicaties/Downloads/aalderink_veugelers_2005.pdf (last accessed 22 September 2011)

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A reflection on: completing a template of drivers for the use of eportfolios (Unit 2)

Activity 2.2 – a reflection on activity 2.1 (Core activity)

The learning activity

This activity was a small group collaborative activity to complete a template based on  information gleaned from scanning several readings. I was assigned to the blue  group.

The technology
The original  template was a word document, but via the discussion forum googledocs and the wiki were debated and it was quickly decided to paste it into the wiki to enable group contributions. We didn’t actually spend much time in the forum on this activity, except to organise ourselves initially and then to finalise the task deliverable.

At this stage I  had not expressed a preference for technology – I am only just beginning to
familiarise myself with the wiki, although to date it’s been a positive experience and seemed to make sense since it’s readily available to all and supported by the OU.

Googledocs is something I’m interested in trying out since I use other google things, so that would be a new experience. I observed that the wiki was fleshed out pretty quickly – I came to it late in the week and the only problem had been when someone else was active in the wiki, so I was unable to edit and had to come back later.

Ian suggested having a Skype meeting to discuss our group findings and meet the requirement to reach a consensus on what we see as the key drivers to eportfolio
implementation. This is something I haven’t done before with OU study, on my
last module we had experience of meeting in Eluminate, which was often poor sound
quality and tended to be a bit slow to get group discussion going. We managed
to schedule a time when 4/7 of us were able to Skype, at the end of the assigned week for this activity.

The readings
I found this a bit of a challenge, to read more than 3 of the core and 1 supplementary readings. I noticed in the forum that others had found it a challenge:

I’m only gradually ploughing my way through these readings (despite a quick scan, it’s still quite time consuming isn’t it?)” (Katie)

It is taking a surprising amount of time to scan” (Ian)

I don’t think I’m very good at ‘scanning’, I tend to read through and highlight and make
notes on each reading . . . this is a skill I need to improve upon if I’m going to keep up on the course! Another thought was that when I come in late to an activity, I should check what others have read and choose readings that haven’t been covered, so as to make a more valuable contribution with different content.

Skype meeting
The meeting between the four of us was a positive experience, Ian was instrumental in
setting it up, I proposed an agenda and Ian pasted the wiki content into a googledoc so that we could do live editing, I think this was a new experience for most of us and was surprisingly easy (except for the pressure of typing into a document whilst others lurked in the ether :-)).

I did panic when Ian first conferenced us all into Skype, having tested my laptop I decided I’d do the audio element on my iPhone, but when he called I automatically answered
via my laptop! After a few minutes I was brave enough to ask if Ian could dial me back in so I could use my iPhone, freeing up my laptop memory for the online doc and referring back to the OU website etc. It was surprisingly good sound quality for everyone and there didn’t seem to be any time lag when we spoke, which helped to get a free-flowing  discussion, even with Ian in Colombia!

I think things came up in conversation that may not have done otherwise – from memory the other 3 are all involved in teaching/lecturing in some way, so as a non-teacher
I was able to pick up some practice-related points around eportfolios that others
had experienced and drivers for their use, such as Pepplepad being user-friendly
and free and good to support lifelong learning.

Collaboration
I think the wiki element worked well and at the end we pasted the link to the googledoc so those who missed the Skype call could add any further thoughts. We used the forum to
finalise our key drivers and wrap up the activity, being as inclusive as we could be for those who missed the call.

We were concerned about whether the product of our collaboration was going to be assessed and how much work we needed to do on it. Our tutor clarified that it was more about the process than the product, and in particular the learning opportunity and
providing evidence of this.

I felt I had been proactive later on in the activity, suggesting an agenda, making a small
contribution to the wiki, taking the role of following up after the Skype session by posting to the forum.

I know that I tend to ‘go along with others’ to complete an activity. An example is that our
drivers template seemed to have a lot of detail and I wondered whether we shouldn’t make it more succinct, but others liked the level of detail. I guess my summarising of the key drivers helped to provide a succinct summary of our findings, with the detail in the wiki/googledoc supporting this.

Conclusion – my learning
We are using a ‘framework for personal professional development’ which we can use to label evidence of our learning, such as the evidence from this activity.

I think this activity provided evidence of my learning in the areas of:

  • Technology-related skills – trying out the wiki, googledocs and Skype
  • Communication-related skills – Skype and the forum
  • Proactivity – my small contribution to the content and via the different technologies

I can see I need to be organised so that I can prioritise my readings earlier on; selective in
what I do read and reflect on the activity to identify my learning and hopefully progress.

Since we’re about to move on to delve deeper into the use of reflective writing, I am sure this first attempt is going to provide a useful reference point and comparison with
later efforts as I (hopefully) progress and develop during the module 🙂

One final thought, is this a short reflection at over 1000 words . . . probably not! Also
took me an hour to write, plus preparation time . . . not a quick activity!

Posted in communication skills, H808, proactivity, reflection, technology skills, Unit 2 | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments