Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CCK08: Off to hell with my good intentions

I have been 'sort-of' following a huge online course that has been placed in an open environment: Connectivism & Connective Knowledge. This means I am able to access all the course resources as an informal student. If I am so inclined, I may formally enroll, complete the assignments and obtain the official course qualification. The course is being facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. My aims for doing this course can be found here.

Good intentions
I had great intentions for what I was going to do but the reality is that I have fallen rather short of my original plans. It has taken me these last three weeks to get my head around what is happening and how it is happening.

The course has hundreds of students, so the amount of information being generated has been phenomenal. And it has been difficult for me to decide how I am going to access the different forums where the course is being discussed.

Down to a fine art
I have needed to work my way through the process of filtering information before I could actually concentrate on the course context. But at last I feeling confident with how I am accessing information and ready to move on with engaging with the course.

My filtering journey
I started off joining the course email group but unsubscribed because I found it wasn't providing information that I was interested in. However, I have just re-joined in the last couple of days because I have become aware of a conversation about how health professionals connect in a global context.

I joined the course Moodle Forum but got fed up with being inundated with posts, so I unsubscribed to that. I know it is there and that I can access it if I wish. I have made a decision right from the start not to join the course Second Life or Facebook groups because I knew they would only increase my information overload. I set up a Netvibes page where I started a collection of blogs I thought would be useful to follow, but I haven't used it at all.

I keep meaning to attend the live sessions but either forget or can't make them because of time frames. But I know how to access the recordings when I am ready to listen.

Keeping things simple
The most useful tool I have found is the daily course email that updates me on how the course is going, and also links me to the latest blog posts by course participants. This has been a wonderful resource, effective in its simplicity. It brings all the information and links to me, rather than me having to go and look for it and getting totally lost in the course jungle. I can then choose what I am going to dip in and out of, and when I do that.

I am loving reading people's blogs and finding the different perspectives to be fascinating. I have no method to my blog reading other than to randomly pick blogs that have been listed in the course email. I thought I would prefer the running conversations in the email group and/or Moodle, but that has not been the case. I think I prefer the blogs because they feel more personal and considered than the emails/Moddle posts.

Designing online courses for midiwves
This has been an extremely valuable lesson for me to remember in relation to the online courses that I design and run for midwives. The course I am about to start is a lot smaller than the 'connectivism' course and has only two delivery platforms: blog and email forum. But I am also planning to use Elluminate, and I have linked to Delicious. I have also mentioned Skype.

This has the potential to totally overload students, especially those completely new to online communication and education. The course is only seven weeks long, so there is the potential for the students to take the whole time working out the technology and completely missing the content of the course.

So I think its going to be vital for me to monitor students' progress and support them as much as possible with instructions and scaffolding, and personal attention, such as regular phone calls. At the same time, I think it is important for the students to work their own way through the process of information filtering because at the end of it, they will be far more knowledgeable and confident with the technology and how they use it.

If you are following the connectivism course, how are you engaging with it? What do you find are the most useful ways of keeping in touch with an online course?


willie campbell said...

sarah the only way I can make sense of this course is to pretend that it is delivered solely for me. I'm not capable of entering into all the this and that options. I find the Daily notices an absolute gem and today's is superb. the diagram of different learning theories is so useful.
so I am on the periphery and probably will stay there for this course. Dop I get less from it? aha, therin lies the critical question and the answer goes someway to explaining connectivism as a theory.
keep in touch.

Sarah Stewart said...

I'll see if I can get Leigh to do a tutorial for us one day next week.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I agree that the daily course e-mail has been great. I too ended up un-subscribing to most of the Moodle forums--it was just getting to be too much. It's good to be in the position of student again, to get a better sense of how our students cope with the types of on-line learning environments that we set up for them. As of yet I have not met a true 'digital native'...

PDonaghy said...

Hi Sarah
Thanks for stopping by and leaving an encouraging comment! Of all the tools, the Daily is my first port of call and I like dipping into the forums at the weekend.

Thought I would be tracking more blogs but don't seem to have got round to that!! Like your idea of the Netvibes page to build up the ones I want to follow - might try that.

Am making a special effort to get to the live sessions. I know the recording are available but for me nothing beats the 'live' event.

Sarah Stewart said...

I tried to get to a live session this week; connected beautifully and then the phone didn't stop for the whole hour - one can see the disadvantages of being at home to attend an online event as opposed to taking yourself off to a class or conference.