21 February 2009

WEEK THREE - Reflexions

Expectations can be both a blessing and a burden. Good or bad, we bring and unpack them into many life situations: a new date, house, job, or VLE computing course.

The major expectation I brought to this online experience was that I hoped to be shown how to organise and present - to our Hull University students - a brief [say, 90-minute] VLE workshop. I wanted to gain knowledge, for example, on how to:
  • devise and try out online quizzes;
  • structure activities that would engage our students in an educational and entertaining manner;
  • invite them to raise specific questions and issues;
  • get tips on the effective use of academic video clips online [say, via YouTube, with advice about how to get the best of this facility];
  • debate important topics relevant to the subject of the workshops I plan to set up;
  • search out specific academic material - either on the web or more traditional sources; and
  • draft out a plan for a specific essay, assignment, report, etc.
These are some of my immediate goals that I must fulfil for my current campus computing work before this year is out. Although I did not have any of these specific 'great expectations' satisfied, I have ended up with something else. As John Lennon once sang, "Life is what happens whilst you are busy making other plans".

My eyes, instead, have been opened to a whole galaxy of useful social networking software (Web 2.0) that I had never encountered or used before. And, having been exposed to this dynamic material and been 'forced' to use it to achieve pre-set goals, I can see possibilities of how these applications might be useful for my current webwork and how they might be applied to a future academic context for our students.

The new software I have enjoyed using include:
  • Delicious Bookmarking of websites - highly recommended;
  • Google Documents for creating and storing useful material on the internet;
  • Forum Discussions;
  • FLICKR - this was used to answer the course question: "Who Am I?". Being a photographer [with 20 solo photo exhibitions in the UK and US], I took to the idea of trying a new venture to display my pictures. I need to get back to this website and improve the rushed work I did - lots of scope for growth. It is located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34788179@N03/;
  • Checking Who's Online - call me nosey, but I often liked to check which of my fellow students were also online;
  • Chat Room option - I found this useful from time to time (but soon realized that the chats were not as private as I at first assumed they should be - so I gradually ceased to use this facility here);
  • PBWiki - this seemed a bit limited, but perhaps I still have aspects to discover (I need to check the web for tutorials about this application - YouTube can be good in this regard). Actually, thinking back, I seem to recall that there is a section dedicated for 'Educators' - something else I must explore - if I have time and remember all these things to explore; and
  • Blogger.com - I have already reflected upon the value of this option in an earlier reflexion. The potential of using a blog with our students, however, is another multi-media area that needs to be investigated at some future time.

GREEN TEAM Collaboration - it continued to be a positive experience this week with the rest of the gang. There feels to be a high degree of warmth and helpfulness between us - even though we are spread out (as far as Australia in one case). It feels like what the military call the 'buddy' system - whereby we look out for each other. The main thing, as far as I am concerned, is that we just 'get the job done and move on'. We are not out to win the Noble Peace Prize, it is simply an online exercise and I feel we performed well and did what was asked of us. From a brief glance at next week's tasks, it seems that the teams will no longer be necessary. On one hand, I will miss that aspect, but on the other, I am looking forward to completing the course because I have two immediate goals I wish to complete (outside my paid academic work): (1) an article about referencing academic sources and (2) complete the final of seven modules (Excel) for the ECDL [European Computer Driving Licence] before the three-year deadline in August this year.

SET READINGS - later in the week than planned, I got my teeth into the set readings (added to this, there seemed more of them this week). Nevertheless, they are very interesting and will prove useful once I get back to my university work (proper) and start to put some of the 'theoretical' material into 'practice'.

AT WORK - we began our tentative steps to introduce Skype-to-Skype for the future benefit of our students. That is, we will direct most of our students - with what we call 'quick queries' [mainly about how to reference academic work] - to contact us via Skype. Further, it will be an option for our Overseas and Distant Learners (ODL) to contact us for study advice. It is all very exciting and should be great once all the technical hurdles are overcome.

That is all for this week...

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