I spent almost all of last week prepping the members in my CoP on social learning where I introduced Moodle and Google App concept. I have been blogging about the journey for a while, in my last blog post "I can feel the Buzz" I reported that social learning suddenly dawned upon the members early last week so I took the opportunity to take it further.
To roll out the Moodle Google Apps concept, I borrowed 2 Netbooks for the staff members who didn't have a laptop. A night before I developed a scenario for the staff members to look at the following day. I had intentionally made some mistakes and automotive not being my area of expertise there were bound to be some anyway. You can find a copy of the scenario here. I borrowed the Netbooks to give the staff members a feel of what the students will bring to class and how it can help in facilitating a social learning space.
Once I had all the staff logged onto staff wifi and Google, I gave them a quick tour of Google docs. This is when I shared the scenario with all the members and asked them to correct any mistake and add anything they thought was important. The group spent about 15 minutes doing this. I had some staff members who were already using Google hence I asked them to help the others out. After this 15 minutes I asked the members to reflect on what had just happened. Few things came up:
- the room setting, as the desks were arranged in rows, members found it difficult to communicate and help each other (refer to figure 1.1)
- since we had some expertise in the room, the job for the teacher became easy
- more time with the facilitator (one-on-one)
- the process was lot engaging then just watching or listening
Figure 1.1 - default classroom setting, this the members found difficult to work with, hence it will now be moved to fit the social learning requirements
I also got the members to reflect on the scenario, here are some comments:
- I can see lots of conversations happening
- students would be very active in the task
- teacher is not doing anything apart from being there as a guide
- students would probably come up with the content
- good use of e-tools to bring together learning and social dimensions
Moving on from docs, it was time for blogging. If the students are expected to blog, the teachers should be leading the way. I got all the members to create a blogger account, this is easy if you already have a Google account. Blogger as an eportfolio. A requirement to becoming a senior lecturer here at Unitec, staff are to submit a portfolio of activities done in class. I used this to talk about the importance of blogging along with modeling the practice to students, PLN, reflection and it's importance on improving your teaching (reflection is the lowest common denominator, if you don't reflect you'll probably never find what you are doing wrong). I gave them a task, some members in this CoP have been involved for the past year and we have some members who only started few weeks ago. The task was to reflect on the past few weeks/year being in the CoP, the key highlights for them and what impact it may have on their teaching. Some members were uncomfortable with making their blog open hence for now they have kept it private ..... small steps at a time ..... when they are confident and comfortable with making themselves visible to the world, they'll make the blog public. This transition is something that has to come from within and it can't be forced.
We closed the session discussing other possible elearning tools and Second Life was mentioned. I was asked to talk further on it hence I showed them a video from Youtube, one closer to home, the SLENZ Birthing Unit and another random video simulating how a jet engine works.
After this session the feedback from all the members was, we could have been doing this all this time. I guess it's not a bad comment knowing none or most of them didn't want to get involved in the project. This week is student orientation week, week 2 will give the members an opportunity to practice some of the skills.
My involvement will continue as a technology steward for both staff and students, looking forward to it and the challengers.
The Automotive department has made some changes that will allow students to buy a Netbook or any other machine they prefer. The course previously required the students to buy the mechanical tools needed in the course. The school is now buying a common set for all students and will be used as needed, this saves student money with which they are to buy a computer. By week 2-3 we should have a good indication of how many students have bought a laptop. The mandatory requirements for the computer were set as: webcam and wifi.