Saturday, September 15, 2007

Technological chaos

I feel I have to make a comment about how this blog is evolving. I am finding that this blog has three themes: professional (midwifery), online learning (tied up with my activities in a course about the facilitation of online learning) and of course, personal. I almost feel that I have three blogs but I could not be bothered to do that. So for the time being, I'll continue with one blog even if I feel it is a bit messy - any comments?

Anyway, my title of 'technological chaos' refers to my experiences this week. As a part of the course I am doing, I was to attend an online conference on Elluminate. We have had a number of very successful conferences in the past, but twice this week the technology let us down. This resulted in chaos-we were all running around like headless chickens until a few of us got together using Skype. A number of issues resulted from this experience for me:
1. If you are going to use technology for a project, make sure you have a back-up plan for when things go wrong.
2. Make sure your back up plan is feasible. I wanted to get people talking using Skype, but a number of people had not even heard of Skype let alone have access to it.

The outcome of all this confusion is that quite a few of us have logged onto Skype and I am looking forward to having spontaneous , informal chats about our course-like you would if you bumped into someone in the corridor or tea room.

The other point to online learning is the importance of communication and facilitation. While we were waiting for things to be sorted, Merrolee Penman told us about her work. Merrolee is an occupational therapist with a great interest in online learning. She did a fantastic job of bringing us together as a group, telling us about her work (more about this in future posts). She also kept us abreast of what was going on, which was essential to stop us from going off in a huff. A very valuable learning experience for me to remember when I am attempting to use technology in my teaching.

8 comments:

Carolyn McIntosh said...

I agree about the focus and intent of our blogs. My blog too is fulfilling the role of a personal, professional and learners reflective tool. I have always seen the value in keeping some sort of reflective record to clarify thought processes but have only ever done this very sporadically. However I feel that this blog is something I could continue. I do have another blog, which I do not use, which connects me with some family member. I only go there to check photos. I think there is one more blog that I could really use. That is one in which I can bare my soul and put down all the other stuff that goes on in my head, most of which would not suit an online environment at all. I wonder if I did this just on my own computer would I keep it up? Probably not. I think part of the inspiration to continue might be that I know that others too might read this. I enjoy this shared experience. If it comes to class blogging though I think I would need to have another different blog. I would be happy for students to read my blog here but I would need something that was more geared to the needs of the class rather than myself.

Graeme said...

Good post Sarah and you appear to share some of my concerns about the 'technological failure' and the response to it. I was on a dial-up connection and couldn't download Skype in time to share in the discussion but it seems you guys covered somethings which would be worth sharing with the group. Maybe Merrolee could be a guest speaker on a face to face at Otago or even (God forbid) an Elluminate session.
I was interested in the in the African adventure and wondered about my question about registration? and what effect that would have on your decision making if there was not reciprocal registration?

Leigh said...

its great to have the whole you in this blog Sarah - or more than just the course stuff at least. Keep it up I reckon

Merrolee said...

Thanks Sarah for your lovely comments about keeping the group going... It was a good learning experience for everyone I think about what to plan for just in case the technology doesn't work as you would hope!
I also wanted to just leave a quick comment to see if you get it this time before I leave a longer one...

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for your comment, Graeme. Yes, I am mindful of the potential problems of technology and it was a great learning experience seeing the frustration from a student's view. However, I would see myself as a early adopter and am very enthusiastic about it. I have to constantly remind myself not to get carried away and remember that people do not necessary have the same views about it as me nor the same level of technology(broadband and fast laptop)as I have.

As for my African adventure that never came to anything, I never found out what was required but I doubt very much that it was anything too strenuous. The chap decided that he wants a midwife for six weeks now, instead of four, which well and truly puts me out of the picture.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Carolyn, I have had to be mindful of what I say in this public forum, from a professional point of view. Because, as you say, there are certain things that we would not want to share with students, or anyone else for that matter. What does interest me is that I love writing this blog (and wish I could put really personal things) but have never been able to keep a paper diary. There's something about knowing people can look at it and respond that inspires me. It could be something to do with me being a real drama queen, always looking for attention!!

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Yes I think it probably is the wee reward of maybe getting some response to comments that adds interest to keeping this thing going. I too am enjoying my blogging.

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Not sure if I sent this before I was going to say that I to think it is the small reward of know that others can read this and that someone might respond that adds interest to this blogging experience.