Really excited by online learning: Update on MTeach

I’ve finished the first round of subjects for the MTeach and while there was a mix of feelings throughout the process, generally speaking I’m really happy with how the course is panning out.

The newest subject we’re starting, though, really embraces the potential for this style of learning. I was just reading about the importance of designing educational experiences rather than planning lessons (i.e. to adopt a heuristic rather than algorithmic approach to teaching and learning), and I was thinking about how insightful that was, when my new ‘lecturer’ published our subject with the explanation that he has used a non-algorithmic approach to the subject. I was immediately impressed and the timing of this revelation was incredibly serendipitous. Note: Read chapter 3 of Phillip Schlechty’s Engaging Students for more on design versus planning.

So I have jumped into the next subject with both feet and the only problem I have had so far is that I have too many ideas for the assessments. My key idea is to challenge the effect and place of traditional assessment strategies in the face of 21st Century learning goals. I have big ideas about this, but it may be too ambitious. Having too many ideas is a wonderful problem to have, though.

The other downside of this subject is that it has revealed to me how ineffective I have been in my attempts to integrate technology in the classroom. I’m being a little hard on myself, since I’ve had some real successes, but seeing my new teacher use technology is a real wake-up call to how well and professionally it can be done.

On the one hand, the ad hoc approach to using innovative technology means that you invest a minimal amount of effort to get it up and running so you can evaluate it. This means if it fails you have not wasted too much effort. However, this teacher has gone all in: professionally produced video materials, customised design of the LMS experience to suit the needs of the subject (no mean feat in Moodle!), integration of a range of embedded tools, and a commitment to nano-fora to foster collaboration and discussion. And this was all ready to go before the course officially started. So if this fails, this teacher will lose a lot of that investment of time. But, why would it fail? It is expertly done. It is a joy to engage with. As an online student, I have never been more comfortable within an online learning space and felt that my needs and interests were being met in such a robust and personalized way. It embraces the rhizomatic approach to learning, but provides excellent structure and signposting so that learners do not get lost.

Absolutely phenomenal.

Really excited by online learning: Update on MTeach