Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Starting to feel nervous

The online course 'Facilitating Online' starts in a week's time - go to the course wiki to find out more.

Being a role model
This is the first year I have been "in charge" and I'm starting to get a little nervous about it. I have re-developed the course so it is different from last year. Now I have no one else to blame if everything turns to custard.

It has suddenly hit me since reflecting on how culturally competent I am in the online environment, that I really have to practice what I preach. So now I am worrying that I am not doing all the things in this course that I say you should do, both from an instructional design and facilitation point of view.

Teaching in an open environment
Running an open online course can go one of two ways - you can gain international recognition, fame and glory, or people discover that you really are quite hopeless. Teaching in an open environment makes me feel quite vulnerable and I am thinking that I will have to develop a strategy for dealing with this.
  1. Being quite clear from the outset that I am not an expert - I am learning as we go along, so the relationship I have with the course participants is a two-way relationship - I will learn from them as they will learn from me.
  2. Continually seek feedback so I can be confident the course is meeting the needs of the students.
  3. Be flexible and prepared to deviate from the course schedule if required, to meet students' needs.
  4. Get support from colleagues to help me keep a perspective on things and carry out quality checking.
Is there anything you can suggest that I can add to my strategy?


Mike Bogle said...

Hi Sarah,

I think you're being entirely too hard on yourself. :) I for one do consider you an expert and look to you as an example - but not simplY as a knowledgeable teacher and educator (which most certainly are).

Your consideration for other viewpoints and perspectives is always amazing to watch. In fact I believe you demonstrate cultural competency as a matter of practice - whether you realise it or not.

I think it's difficult (even impossible) to predict every possible circumstance that can arise, and have pre-determined approaches for everything in place. There far too much diversity in the world to anticipate everything. What we can do is approach situations with an attitude of openness and flexibility - which you continue to demonstrate in spades.

I also find that setting the tone of a session is critical to establishing a participatory and collaborative ethos. What you've discussed here is a perfect way of doing this I think - people reading the post will know exactly what to expect (and hopefully what is suggested or expected of them).

I personally love the networked learning model, in which each participant brings their own unique areas of expertise to the course and contributes in their own way. I think giving people the opportunity to shine is really empowering and can do way more for a course than the traditional instructor as expert model.

So stay the course - I think you're doing just fine :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks Mike.

What struck me as I wrote this post was how other teachers must feel when they are encouraged to teach on an open environment. At Otago Polytechnic there is a strategy that our 'top' courses are displayed in Wikieducator for all to see. On the one hand, as teachers we should be open to critique and feedback - it is one way to make sure we are delivering quality education opportunities to students. On the other hand, it does put us in a vulnerable position. It is one thing getting feedback from students and colleagues from our institution, it's another thing putting our work out there for all to see.

So my question to myself as a staff developer is: how do I support people to be confident enough to put their work in an open online environment?

Mike Bogle said...

I get so envious when I hear about Otago's open culture - clearly I'm at the wrong university :) Do you have a need for a second hand educational technologist?

I'd be really interested in hearing how this strategy or policy came to be. I suspect much of it came from Wayne Mackintosh, am I right?

I recall that name when I was working on my first project at UNSW in 2002 (the LRC), which was a custom developed environment for sharing teaching materials.

Wayne made the suggestion that we released the code as open source, which was promptly met with cries of "but it's our IP! Why would we give it away?"

Such a pity the university didn't follow suit, I think we'd be better off if we had.

These days when I raise the prospect of public visibility or sharing of resources people have much the same reaction. Seems extremely ingrained in the local culture unfortunately....

Sarah Stewart said...

Moving our IP policy was led by our CEO Phil Kerr and influenced by Leigh Blackall and Bronwyn Hegarty, and of course, now we work closely with Wayne and Wikieducator.

FYI: Here's an interview I had with Robin Day (deputy CEO)who talked about why Oatgo Polytechnic moved to a creative commons IP:


Ian said...

I hate the idea of blogging or I'm just dam nervous. Anyone else in this terrifying state of mind...

Sarah Stewart said...

Have a look at the blogs of participants from the 2009 Facilitating Online course, Ian (the first 16 of the list) - this may give you an idea of what and how people blogged last year - most people were in the same shoes as you :)

Anita Hamilton said...

Ian, I was a reluctant blogger once... I was torn between believing it was narcissistic (it was all about me) and totally pointless (I had nothing to offer).

Looking back now I can see that thse two notions are actually related. They are both founded in my fear of appearing stupid in front of others.

When I finally had a topic to Blog about I was a different person. I started a blog about my love of technology in occupational therapy and included topics around higher education, online technology and e-learning. Feel free to check it out at http://technots.blogspot.com

After I created a blog, Facebook became more and more widely used, but I said I wouldn't use it because it was a time waster... I now have over 200 friends and do some of my best professional networking there! See our group called OT 4 OT (online technology for occupational therapy)

I am in the process of writing a blog post about my about-face on Twitter. Yes, the evil Twitter! I thought it was the most stupid waste of time... why would I want to hear about trivial things from (silly) people's lives? Well, I wasn't thinking about Twitter the right way, what about receiving nuggets of "gold" in the form of tips, links, ideas an support from people with similar ideas in far flung places? Twitter has suddenly become relevant and helpful in my life!

Ian, maybe don't blog until you have something to say. But once you do... be warned, like-minded people might find you and visit, you may even find online friends! It's amazing and comforting and scary... all at once!

Cheers, Anita

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Anita, thank you very much for that lovely reply.

As a matter of record, how did you get to this post...via this blog or my call out to Twitter?

Anita Hamilton said...

Hi Sarah, I got the call on Twitter :-) By the way, I think you must be post-positivist teacher, that is why you enter the "classroom" knowing that all cannot be known... only discovered alongside your students. :-)

"Post-positivists accept fallibilism (the philosophical doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible) as an unavoidable fact of life” (Phillips & Burbules 2000, p. 29). Post-positivists believe that “human knowledge is not based on unchallenged, solidified foundations; it is conjectural. But they believe there are real grounds, or warrants, for asserting these beliefs or conjectures—although these warrants can be modified or withdrawn in the light of further investigation” (Webster’s Online Dictionary & Wikipedia)." (Littlejohn, 2007)

Cheers, Anita.

Sarah Stewart said...

Blimey, now we're getting into serious stuff :)

I have never been into theory so you'll have to explain to me...what is the difference between post-positivist and post-modern?

Ian said...

Ok I get the idea, and many thank for taking the time to write those notes.

A feeling
I suppose my reluctance is I like talking to people face to face, writing or emailing where this is not possible, using the phone etc... So we have yet another form of communication that needs constant attention. I find the more we disappear into cyberspace the more unreal the experience of personal contact is.

But the overriding factor is I’m really interested in the course and want to participate even if the folk I communicate with are virtual!!!!!!!

Sarah Stewart said...

We're doing a heavy sales job on you, Ian :) :)

I guess the bottom line is..the course 'Facilitating Online' is about that...how to facilitate online. If you are uncomfortanlet with the whole 'online' thing there are 2 ways of looking at the course...

1. Doing the course will make you more confident in the online environment


2. The course is not for you :)

Please feel free to let me know if you have any more queries :)
best wishes, Sarah

Sarah Stewart said...

Crickey...I cannot spell...the word is supposed to be "comfortable"

Anita Hamilton said...

Ian, if you like a more "personal" experience then you might prefer to create a blog about a topic of interest that you already share with a small group of people and co-author the blog as a group. It could be a group of people at work! Sarah Bodell and Angela Hook co-author a blog at the University of Salford. It is a mix of personal and professional posts http://frederickroad.blogspot.com/

I hope you really enjoy your course :-)

Cheers, Anita.

Anita Hamilton said...

Sarah, post-modern and post-positivist are similar as they evolved at a similar time and support the notion that there are not singular or known truths. Here is a great blog about this: http://ericahutton.blogspot.com/2009/03/examination-of-postpositivism.html

In her conclusion she states:
"postpositivism is flexible in nature and aims at providing an alternative perspective to the realm of conducting research (Crossan, 2003). Postmodernism embraces the ideas that have emerged within philosophy that have the propensity to be unconventional in nature. As social animals, humans naturally contribute their perceptions, opinions, and experiences of events in the overall construction of their interpretations. Postmodernists reject the theory of objectivity, supporting relativism, diversity, and fluidity. Both paradigms are supportive of the implementation of multifaceted measurements but both are different in relation to the ontological, axiological, epistemological, and methodological assumptions associated with research."

It's truly amazing stuff, incredibly difficult to apply in the scientific/medical world of "correct procedures" and gold standard evidence.
Cheers, Anita.

Ian said...

Hi Sarah,

Sales job must have worked, now I believe I’ve created the blog page and possibly linked it to wiki (You might want to check). Just hope I can remember where I put it on the pc, guess I’ll get more comfortable as we go on.

Thank you all for your help.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hope you don't regret it Ian :)

Are you doing this for 'fun' or do you want us to send you enrolment forms? - if you want to enrol as a formal student, please contact our administrator, Catherine: catherine.lindsay(at)op.ac.nz

Ian said...

Hi Sarah, I guess I'm doing it for a number of reasons, hopefully fun, but it could be a very useful skill if I can crack the technology.

PS I think I've repaired that link so you should be able to find my blog from Wiki.

I'll see if I can get hold of Catherine.

PPS My long suffering wife is a midwife we live and work in the North. She also a joint author on a book called "Skills for Midwifery Practice"
by Ruth Johnson, Wendy Taylor. Thought you might be interested.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Anita Thanks for explanation. I'm probably going to enrol for my EdDoc so am going to have to get my head around some theory...urgh!

@Ian Give my regards to your wife - that textbook is a core book for many programs in NZ and Australia.

If ever you get stuck with the technology, I am always happy to talk you through by phone, Skype or even desktop sharing technology.