As the second semester closes it has been good to reflect on some of the elements of the course. To help design, deliver and moderate has been mainly a positive experience. I have found this second module more challenging as it has illuminated the scope of the use of technologies in my own place of work and how little the staff have had in training in online provision. It is fair to say that most use staff use the VLE as a depository for documents that that students will need rather than a tool for interactive engagement. I have supported two new lecturers who are also keen to use interactive technology for their students. They in turn have supported me in my studies as I have tried to pilot some innovations in the teaching model. As they are new to both teaching and the post they have had a lot to learn and at times I have felt that I have just added to their workload at this point so I have not been able to help them develop their VLE provision as much as we all would like.
They have however enjoyed seeing their students interact online as they are all apprentices coming from different companies and varied backgrounds and the students have been encouraged to think more, try harder and voice their own understanding on the blogs. This had developed their communication skills and has moved them along academically. (Palloff and Pratt, 2005). I too have had this challenge collaborating online in this module and it has been mainly a positive experience. I also found that taking part in the other student lead sessions has given me some ideas for use in the future. I also noted how active I was in the beginning of each new session and how it tailed off when I knew what I had to do and the time frame for it. There was also the challenge of being away and trying to connect from rural areas. The students from my colleague’s classes showed exactly the same behaviours.
Crompton (2015) in her discourse about emerging trends utilising mobile technologies identified that researchers have found that there is a definite lack of teacher professional development in schools and that this is the main barrier. Whilst this is a US research document it also applies to my institution here in the UK. Teachers would like, as I and some of my colleagues have found, the time to learn and explore the technologies available and trial them in some areas. There is a great deal of information and advice but having the chance to put it into practice is another dimension altogether. It is not the will it is the way. Cut backs do not allow for ipad provision or remission time to implement ideas. A great deal depends on the type of mobile device our students can afford and for all of us, the internet provision. Sometimes we have been in remote areas without even a mobile signal.
As staff we have to do thirty hours continual professional development per year and a whole week has been set aside at the end of this academic year. We all feel that whilst this is in principle a nice idea, it would be better to have allocated time each week to continually develop our own pedagogical interests and ideas as described by Cifuentes et al (2011) as the ideal. This would give us ownership and we now have a little time to hurry ideas along without real considered future planning due to the timing of the week.
As part of the reflective process of both the SBOE course and my application of it in the workplace I have continued to make entries in my blog and this I have found an excellent process. I have been able to reflect on my own learning and performance and identify my own strengths and areas for development. We have peer reviewed each other in the tasks so it will be interesting to see what other have thought about my input compared to my own evaluation. It has been very different from keeping a journal that only my supervisors can see as this is much more public in that your peers can see it too. It has made me think of how to write positively and be objective rather than subjective. Foster (2015) in comparing traditional journal and blogs in concludes that students take more personal risks in a journal as they are less public. The posts generally were more likely to be emotionally loaded however students take intellectual risks in blogs and would include opinions or positions which are open to debate. Martindale and Willey (2004) show that blogs help create and sustain a community of inquiry. I am not sure that that has happened with my blog or with others I have followed as we haven’t really commented on each other’s posts. I would say though that the community was built via the asynchronous discussions via the tutor lead sessions and through the course supervisor’s direction. I would agree that by reading others blogs in addition to the tutor lead sessions that I have been exposed to more literature and therefore my learning has been co-constructed with my peers.
Cifuentes, L., Maxwell, G., & Bulu, S. (2011). Technology integration through professional learning community. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 44(1), 59-82.
Crompton, H., Brandon Olszewski, B. and Bielefeldt, T. The mobile learning training needs of educators in technology-enabled environments. Professional Development in Education, 2015http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2014.1001033 (accessed 20/04/15) Routledge
Foster, D. (2015). Private journals versus public blogs: The impact of peer readership on low-stakes reflective writing. Teaching Sociology, 43 (2), 104-114.
Martindale, T, Willey, D. A. (2004) Using Weblogs in Scholarship and Teaching. TechTrends 49 (2): 55-61
Palloff, R.M., Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: learning together in community. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass