As those of you who have worked with me know, I am particularly fond of focusing on PROCESS in any learning experience. So, I'd like to dedicate the next series of posts to my own PROCESS - of getting more deeply into using all things 21st century tech to improve my own learning experiences, and those of others with whom I work.
Having worked this summer on designing and publishing my new website and then participating earlier this month in a 3 day MOOT (massive online open course), I definitely have embraced several major digital learning curves lately! Talk about virtual overload for this IT challenged individual...
Ah - but was it worth the effort? Read on to find out! And right up front, a note of encouragement for you who also wonder about and perhaps even dread the virtual education tsunami which is upon us...having survived and richly benefited from the MOOT, I think this option just might be GREAT!!
This is the first of 10 posts which will include reflective responses from my participation in my first MOOT (massive online open course) event. Although the post content is prescribed by the event organizers (following their format to fulfill requirements to receive the event certificate), I think it might well be a compelling read for anyone who is interested in online education, especially if you are wrestling with learning curve, challenges and/or issues. Many of those same issues were, I am sure, foremost in my own mind as I followed this 3 day event earlier this month. And, I am happy to report - many of my questions were answered, mostly in positive, constructive ways. I also definitely benefited in unexpected ways from the event, including gaining some coping tools and confidence that yes - perhaps even I might be able to design materials and someday teach online!
But I am getting ahead of myself... see for yourself how it all came down.
Moodle Moot Virtual Conference (MMVC) 17: Reflective Practice
Participant: Elizabeth Barbour
Reflective response: 1 of 10
1. Session details
Title: Opening Ceremony
Date: August 4, 2017
Presenter: Dr Nellie Deutsch
2. Session description
This was an introduction to the Conference and included brief mention of the presenters; the 2 platforms being used (WizIQ, education.online and Moodle) with related virtual logistics; and various ways to participate including earning badges and/or a certificate.
3. Connection with other participants included brief personal introductions and greetings, and then logistics –participating in the chat (when able – the chat did not function well much of the time), and interacting by email with administrators as I experienced technical difficulties during the session.
a) my main question was “What is it like to participate in a MOOC?” Having heard about MOOCs for quite awhile now and been interested, this was my first attempt to actually participate. I really didn’t know what to expect.
b) I had many initial questions about how to use the platforms, and how to troubleshoot when things didn’t work.
5. How did the content relate to you as a teacher and/or learner or individual? As a freelance consultant and trainer, I saw that this conference would introduce me to many new people in my domain, to many new ideas as presented and discussed during the sessions, and to many virtual tools. All of these could potentially be useful for my work,
6. What were some of the thoughts that went through your mind as you watched the presentation? My main thoughts during this first session, especially since I was unfamiliar with most of what was happening with the platforms, was that the learning curve would be quite daunting but if I could hang in there and somehow overcome the tech issues, I could gain so much from all that the conference offered
7. How did you feel as you watched the event? If you felt good, what made you feel good? If you felt discomfort, what made you feel discomfort? I was excited to meet and hear from the presenters and interact with the other participants – the global profile was impressive.
I was tentative at best and increasingly verging on skeptical that this virtual event (which was going to be a significant time and energy investment, and over a weekend no less…) would be a worthwhile endeavor, especially when the tech issues prevented participation, or even getting what was being presented. In fact, the tech issues, unfortunately and somewhat ironically, completely overshadowed this first session even to the point of cutting it off about 20 minutes early. This proved to be aggravating and frustrating…and threatened to confirm my thinking coming into this virtually focused conference - that virtual education is a BIG challenge and perhaps not worth the efforts. BUT on the other hand, I was determined to try to participate and was looking forward to many of the sessions’ content.
8. What challenges might you encounter in implementing some of the ideas? For the basic tech issues, my initial challenge was to figure out how to log in and use the platforms. I had trouble returning to the site several times when it cut out on me. Then, I was trying to figure out how the session area worked with the conference home page and various other areas (like the forum). For actually participating, the challenge was to figure out the forums.
9. What steps can you take to resolve the challenges? For the tech issues, I decided simply to persevere and seek help from the Admin when needed, because I sensed if I could get over these tech issues, the actual conference content and networking would definitely be worthwhile. PS In the end, this thought was vindicated! AND a huge contributing factor to this success was the total availability, in the chat and even by email, of the admin throughout the conference for tech troubleshooting and support. For being a full participant, I took it one step at a time by introducing myself in the first forum, and also sent replies to several of the participant posts. I revisited this forum throughout the conference as I continued meeting, getting acquainted and interacting with others. Then, I simply had to choose which sessions I could attend, and participate as fully as possible.
10. What would you like to do in the future as a result of what you heard, read, saw?
a) I would like to learn more about both Moodle and WizIQ because I did end up figuring out the basics and I learned that patience often overcame the many minor tech issues while turning everything off and re-starting it all often worked with major issues. b) I would like to master being patient and not getting aggravated and frustrated when tech issues happen during virtual presentations…I think the Admin did an excellent job modeling both of these 'target' responses. c) I would like to participate in other events like this…and also design and teach my own online courses!
11. Write a question or 2 that you would like to research (look into) as a result of the event.
a) If the ‘pros’ running a conference like this, with years of experience and combined expertise, can’t manage to make a simple chat forum during a session work properly which prevents participants from truly participating, where can virtual amateurs like me possibly ‘fit in’ to the virtual education profile – as presenters or as leaders/admin?
b) Is the time spent troubleshooting versus what you are actually able to present and process (during any given session rife with tech issues) really worth the effort of doing all this online?
I'll be adding a PPT for each session, once I figure out how to sync the audio with the slides!
Stay tuned for post #2...all the rest are responses to "content" presentations with LOTS of helpful online ed ideas and resources.