Saturday, October 13, 2007

To teach or not to teach? That is the question.

Have just finished reading an excellent post by Leigh Blackall, who has been struggling with the concept of whether to be a teacher or facilitator. This has been brought about in part by the course that he is teaching/facilitating: Facilitating online learning communities. This is the course that I am following although I have not officially enrolled. The discussion has been around whether there has been enough direction or 'teaching'. Some students appear to have been left floundering, feeling they have not received enough direction for what is a pretty mind-boggling topic, especially for those who have had little exposure to online communication and teaching tools. The whole topic of whether you are a teacher or facilitator is fascinating and one that I struggle with at times. However, it has been a fascinating process being a student and looking at delivery of materials from the student's view. Sue Waters (in the comments section of Leigh's post) suggested that all the students review their learning thus far, so here are my reflections (have a look at Carolyn's blog for a review of her learning).

What have been the highlights?

The highlights have been my growing knowledge around how to develop a blog and wiki as well as other tools such as Google Reader, gmail, co.mments, and iGoogle. I have also had my eyes opened to the potential of YouTube, which I was very prejudiced against, thinking it was a site purely for the use of teenagers who wanted to post silly videos of themselves. It is, in fact, a repository of many educational resources and its potential for midwifery education is hugely under utilized to my mind. Another highlight has been my experience with putting together a slidecast. I envisage that this will be a tool I use a lot and already plan to put my next couple of conference presentations on 'slideshare'. An unexpected highlight has been my developing relationship with Carolyn. We work together and are colleagues, but have never carried out any teaching or projects together. I now know her much better and feel (I hope she doesn't come along now and say she hates me!) that she is a really good friend: this has come about because of our online communication and our wiki work together, which has had the outcome of a submission of a conference abstract. The 10 minute lectures have been excellent because it has given me an opportunity to get my head around Elluminate as well as meet some of the 'names' in e-learning. Finally, I have been thrilled with the number of people who have responded to the posts on my blog and also to the comments I have put on their posts - I am already feeling like I am starting to develop an online relationship with them.

What aspect(s) caused you the most anxiety?

These have been getting my head around the technological aspects and the volume of resources and information. I got a little frustrated when developing my slidecast, but emails from course participants as well as online resources helped me work my way through my problems.

Was there any aspect(s) that surprised you?

I have been surprised at how quickly I have picked things up which has been very pleasing. The other big surprise has been the wealth of resources online that I can use in my teaching practice, especially on web sites that I would not have previously looked at such as YouTube.

Whilst I can see where people's anxieties have come from, especially those who are not familiar with online communication, I have enjoyed Bron and Leigh's facilitation/teaching of this course. I have found it to be a lot more time consuming than I would have thought, but that's probably because I am addicted to the Internet and have gone mad with this blog. I am now keen to explore Facebook, Ning, Secondlife and Twitter.

I cannot wait to apply this knowledge into my teaching practice, and introduce online social networking to registered midwives with the aim of increasing national and international communication and collaboration. I am particularly keen to run a mini Elluminate midwifery conference, so if you are a midwife and fancy this idea, please let me know.


Carolyn said...

Great blog Sarah, I completely agree.It is the challenge of trying to get the technology to work when struggling away on ones own that is the real downside, but often it is possible to work through these things and there is great satisfaction and much better learning when you are able to work through things yourself with support from group members.
However i am having a major struggle myself at the moment and not sure i will be able to work through it. I would not have known about so many of these resources however had it not been for this course It has opened up a whole new language and new sphere of knowledge for me. I know I am just a newbie at this but I find it very exciting. I can see so many possibilities, I suppose one of the big questions is, will others share our enthusiasm? I think we have to get out there and spread the word somehow.

Sarah Stewart said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head. I am not convinced that the midwives out there will latch on to all this with any great enthusiasm. I am trying to organize a 'free' Elluminate 'conference' but no one has shown any interest. That was also my experience when trying to utilize teleconference and video conferences in a postgraduate course I taught. That may change as we introduce these tools into undergraduate midwifery education. Mind you, we thought that about other things like evidence-based practice, but that has not happened either!

shauneboy said...

absolutely my thoughts sarah - enthusiasm and uptake for this will sky rocket as it becomes day to day in our undergrad programme - you are at the forefront of this for nz midwifery and should be very excited. there are huge opportunities for recognition (know how you love that sarah!) and research etc.

Sarah Stewart said...

You know me, Rae-desperate to be famous!