05 February 2009

WEEK ONE - Reflexions

For this task each student has to put down his/her thoughts on the course so far. These are mine in no particular order:

1. I am slowly getting used to some of the chit-chat that goes on within these online courses. Personally, I prefer to 'hold back' and not start spouting about anything until I have weighed up the situation. I do this in face-to-face (F2F) meetings most of the time. I never was one for small talk. Perhaps it comes from being a Psychologist and Historian [I prefer to observe rather than get involved and change the situation under observation]; my parents were not loud mouths; and a boss from my Export Manager days (Alan Webster from Gentransco) always used to say "keep your powder dry". So that is my style with these gatherings - and now I have transferred it to online groups too. However, I feel that this will change as the month-long course progresses.

2. I am looking forward to next week when, I assume, we will begin to learn about more specific aspects of teaching online, etc. I want to end this course armed with a set of multi-media tools that I can put to good use for the benefit of our students.

3. One of the things I have felt concerns feedback. It is essential that an online student receives fairly quick feedback after they have made a comment or entered into a discussion. Obviously, Patsy at Oxford is fully aware of this and she is good at responding - in a positive manner - fairly rapidly. It is a full-time job monitoring such a course. It needs more than one person doing such a task. I express this feeling because, until I have got used to navigating around the system, I thought that one of my contributions was being ignored.

4. I enjoyed putting into effect both the Delicious Bookmarking system and Flickr photo website. Added to this, now that I am 'forced' to use it again (after an absence of four years), I now fully appreciate the Blogger.com website. It has many useful features, the help system is 'helpful', and the appearance can be altered in such a variety of ways. It is fun. Equally, I failed to realize, all those years ago and until the other day, that anybody could have as many blogs as they wished. For some stupid reason I believed that each person was only allowed one blog and, if you needed another, you had to apply separately. Added to this, I somehow lost my old password and found it extremely difficult to get back into my old (2005) blog. This resulted in me thinking that I would perhaps need a new email address in order to 'trick' my way back into the blog system! Needless to say, after some head-banging-against-the-wall moments, I got back into the Google/Blogger system. All's Well that Ends Well.

5. Next week I need to read through more of the tips provided by the other contributors - otherwise, I will limit my learning opportunities. Some good points are being made, especially by the tutors.

6. Oxford Brookes webpage layout / design: I feel there is an over burden of boxes. For me, the whole feel is too box-y and in the style of an early 1990s layout [perhaps based upon tables rather than CSS]. I am not a Cascading Style Sheet expert (I know nothing), but feel that your website or BlackBoard layout will have to have a complete re-design sooner than later.

7. I know three of us (Robyn, myself and, perhaps, Judith) are on this course because we wish to implement short one-hour workshops for our students. Our VLEs will not be intensive, month- or semester-long, "let's-have-a-party" and form a 'social network' courses. What we want primarily is ideas, techniques and tools for courses that are short, sweet and simple.

That brings me to the end of my 'academic reflexions' for this first week. Bye for now, Alec in Hull.

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