Topic 5: End of Course Reflection

Sunset at Piha beach in Auckland

Closure

As I come to the close of my time in PBL 4 and my time in ONL, I want to in this final blog reflect on my experience in ONL and how it has impacted me.

Relationships

One of the strengths of ONL is the bringing together of people from diverse backgrounds for the purpose of learning and co-constructing knowledge together. It forges relationships which would not have otherwise have been possible. Such bringing together of diversity forces us to become aware of how people differ, what pedagogical values shape them and how they interact from the place of their culture, personalities and educational backgrounds. I became more aware of myself as the group provided such a mirror for me to gain this awareness. I realized that I had rich educational, teaching and research experience which I needed to share because there are many who have yet to acquire these experiences.

One of the ways I did this was to apply my experience of group moderation when it came to my turn. I had a co-moderator who wanted to learn from me and I had a group who was very motivated to engage in the questions I was asking and to participate in the padlet by contributing to it. This experience gave me a sense of satisfaction and I felt I got to know everyone better. It was also amazing to be able to tap on Filip’s rich knowledge as he generously shared his views and tools.

Pedagogical Shift

At the start of ONL, I had very little knowledge on the concepts of networked learning and open learning OR the difference between a learning community and a learning network. These concepts add value to me as we are operating in an educational landscape that is rapidly changing with technology. I am now able to streamline how I operate in different contexts. For example. I’ll continue to grow my learning networks for topics that I’m interested in and build communities that are more collaborative in nature – how true it is that we individually cannot possibly keep up with the speed at which knowledge is being created and generated and therefore need new ways of learning!

I maintain that I’m definitely not an individual hierarchical leader and that I display the other three styles of collaborative hierarchical, individual distributed and collaborative distributed depending on the goals of learning I want my learners to achieve. I personally think that while collaboration and knowledge building are important that we need to find the balance between freedom and direction depending on the group of learners we work with. Too much freedom with out direction can lead to learners “going astray” while too much “control” can stifle learners creativity and agency.

Tools

I’ve definitely been exposed to many more tools than I’ve used before but because my focus is on pedagogical effectiveness, it takes a bit of time for me to familiarize myself with them and to workout which tool would be most effective for the learning outcomes I desire for my students. I definitely feel more equipped with this knowledge of tools and their potential for engagement. It would be great if the training videos for the tools could be provided in a repository so we can always go to it as a “one stop” place to pick what we want.

Time Constraint

When doing ONL, I was not the typical student who was stationed in one place. I had to move 3-4 times and across countries and time zones. This made it difficult for me to spend more time on ONL. So I wish I did have the time I spent on moving to have spent it on ONL :). I would have gone deeper in my learning and connected even more with the wider ONL community.

Further Learning

As I move forward from ONL, I take with me some of the tensions in my understanding of my approaches to learning and pedagogy, to delve deeper into how I can design for greater effectiveness. Eg. one of the tensions I carry with me is trying to work out what the best balance is between a more directed versus a more distributed style of moderating a pbl group, among other musings I have.

Finally ….

I want to thank Filip and Ann for facilitating the group and my PBL 4 group for being so open to learn and grow together over the duration of our course. Thank you, all.

Blessed Christmas and a fruitful 2022 to you !

Advertisement

Topic 4: Emergency Remote Teaching Versus Blended and Online Learning Design

Overview

With the move to remote teaching prompted by the invasion of COVID 19 into the education space, it has been interesting for me to listen to how colleagues from different universities have responded to the need for approaching teaching online.

I’ll share my reflection based on what I’ve gleaned from my PBL group members sharing on Topic 4.

Online Learning as an Emergency Response

There were a range of responses about how universities responded to the remote teaching mode. In some institutions, I heard that the teaching faculty helped one another and pushed toward learning new ways of teaching within a short time. In the other extreme, one member mentioned, that teaching faculty merely executed face-to-face teaching in an online environment by recording lessons without any other change. There was completely no awareness that faculty needed to thinking about how engagement and collaboration in a face-to-face environment can be facilitated in an online environment.

Others reported that, there was a lack of institutional support for teaching faculty to guide them through the transition from face-to-face to online teaching. The other extreme was an institution like mine in new Zealand where an emergency response team was formed comprising of learning designers and those well versed in the online space (university wide) to conduct systematic training on the issues to consider around remote teaching and how some relevant tools can be used effectively. Examples of issues addressed were related to how to keep teaching in the online space interactive and how to maximize the use of zoom. These workshops were recorded for staff to continue reviewing the content.

In summary, there was certainly a need to upskill teaching faculty during the transition into the online space because it was not simply a matter of converting the approach used in face-to-face teaching by simply recording lectures. It sounds to me that such an approach was adopted by those whose teaching pedagogy was fundamentally instructional rather than constructivist.

Online and Blended Learning

face-to-face, online and blended learning

While the emergency response strategy for teaching was online, it differs from what I would call an “authentic” online and blended learning approach. This is because such an approach requires a systematic transforming from face-to-face teaching to online and blended teaching.

In my curriculum innovation which was presented in Ascilite, I had to start with a draft design of a curriculum for the content I wanted to teach. I then worked out what learning outcomes I was after and what modes I could use to accomplish it. I engaged the help of a learning designer and collaborated to map put the design. We incorporated into the design strategies to scaffold students and to help them become self-directed and deep learners by reading up the relevant literature.

To me, fundamental to all teaching, be it face-to-face or online, is the need to ensure that my design allows students to participate purposefully in a community of inquiry. This means, I must consider how to facilitate the development of trusting relations and to develop them among students and with me (social presence). Apart form that, I must be able in my design to direct social and cognitive processes to achieve meaningful educational outcomes (teaching presence).Finally, I must consider how I can facilitate the learners ability to construct and make meaning ( cognitive presence). Providing constructive feedback at the right time will facilitate this. Some useful articles include

Anderson, T., Liam, R., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(2), 61-72.

Garrison, D. R. (2006). Online collaboration principles. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 10(1), 25-34.

Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks11(1), 61-72.

Garrison, D. R., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Fung, T. S. (2010). Exploring causal relationships among teaching, cognitive and social presence: Student perceptions of the community of inquiry framework. The Internet and Higher Education13(1-2), 31-36.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record108(6), 1017-1054

More information on the blended curriculum innovation can be found in

https://www.ascilite.org/conferences/melbourne08/procs/thanasingam.pdf

Conclusion

Designing for online and blended learning spaces is both an art and a science. It involves understanding how learning takes place and facilitating it in the medium of choice. It is not just a response to an emergency need where we have to switch from a face-to-face to and online and blended learning mode!

Topic 3: Learning in Communities: Cooperating or Collaborating?

The question that struck me at the start of the topic on communities, networking and collaboration was

when does a group move from simply cooperating to actually collaborating”

I will use my PBL group to reflect on this question.

Scenario from my PBL Group

It was very clear through the sharing in meeting 1 for Topic 3 that the group at this stage of the our journey felt that we were cooperating rather than collaborating. Each member fulfilled their obligations and the moderators for the assigned topic took the responsibility for creating the final product for presentation to the ONL community. There did not really seem to be a sense of ownership as the unspoken expectation was that the moderators were going to do the work.

It felt we were not really engaging with one another as a group and in my mind I was trying to figure out what missing ingredients were needed for us to shift from cooperating out of politeness and respect for one another to truly collaborating.

I think a classic instance that hinders collaboration is when the attention of the moderator is taken up by one person who brings in a concern that does not really engage the whole group. When this happens the discussion becomes a dialogue between two while the rest of the group “watch on” as spectators.

Ingredients

Considerations for Shifting Gear

Ingredient 1

Thinking about how to keep the group as a whole engaged and involved in the discussion and to take ownership of the bigger goal that the group is trying to achieve collaboratively. I guess staying on track and not deviating from the main discussion would help in this respect. Deciding when to take a discussion offline is critical- this is especially so when a personal concern is raised which does not exactly relate to the topic at hand or the group goal.

Ingredient 2

Thinking about how to effectively moderate a group so engagement and collaboration is supported. These are skills we are not naturally born with. Perhaps we could have some examples of how this is done well and examples of what engagement and collaboration looks like. This will go a long way in helping us make the shift from cooperation to collaboration.

Ingredient 3

Thinking about why we are here at this time as a group and what is it we want to achieve. Do some ice-breaker activity at the start to find out what each person does, the rich cultural and educational traditions they bring to the group and use this information to consider what role they can play in the group (even ideas about what they believe about how learning takes place) – this will encourage each person to contribute based on their strengths and what they uniquely bring to the group. This will give a place of importance to each person and the rest of the group will also be very motivated to want to receive from each of the members whom they feel they know a little more about and want to learn from.

Ingredient 4

Differentiate the type of group you are and clarify understanding and expectations of why you exist as a group/ why you need a group. Kay Oddone PLNs Theory and Practice by Kay Oddone, part 1 &

PLNs Theory and Practice by Kay Oddone, part 2. provides useful thoughts about what differentiates communities from networks. Perhaps PBL groups can use the checklists to help understand where they stand?

Conclusion

Learning in communities can be very fulfilling once we understand and get better at including the ingredients that make them thrive and grow because the collective input of the group is far greater than what one individual can hold in themselves.

Reflections (Mid-Course)

Introduction

In this blog, I reflect on my experiences and learning in ONL so far. I categorise my writing into experiences and learning related to

  • PBL and small group moderation
  • blog writing
  • collaborating in the PBL group
  • assessment of the quality of my learning in this space using the open learning approach.

Moderating in the PBL Group

My PBL group comprises about 50% members who seem to be more active and 50% less active. At discussions it seems that a few develop ideas while the rest observe passively or perhaps agree passively. As such for me, I don’t think the members have really gelled as a group with a common purpose. This could explain why the group has not really crossed Tuckman’s (1965) storming and norming stage to develop into the performing stage. More details of group development can be found in What Is Tuckman’s Model of Group Development? Tuckman’s Model of Group Development In A Nutshell – FourWeekMBA Figure 1 shows common characteristics within each stage.

Fig 1 Characteristics within stages of group development

For Topic 1, it felt like there was a lack of direction and clear purpose in the moderation process. This I guess is understandable since it seemed people were new to the notion of moderation and so were just going with the flow 😊 Sometimes it felt frustrating when this happened because there was nobody to steer the discussion back on course. Perhaps, facilitators could step in to help the moderators guide/ steer the group if this happens. It would be good if the direction and purpose for each meeting is set by the moderator so that the group knows what to expect and have something to measure progress against.

It also seemed the more enthusiastic members just kept building on each other’s ideas in order to be collaborative but at the expense of critically thinking about what was said in relation to the learning objectives of the week’s topic. I guess the question we need to ask ourselves here is how to balance collaboration with the need to be critical. Using Tuckman’s model, criticality would naturally develop when everyone feels safe and accepted to really be themselves. This in turn would result in much richer discussions. There is also a need to create strategies to gently draw the more passive members to take more ownership of the Topic and the group. This is of course is critical as we all know the group is a s strong as its weakest link.

For topic 2, I felt the moderation seemed somewhat more focused in the sense that before each session there was some indication of what everybody was expected to think about and work on. But still, I feel the weakness of the group is a lack of criticality. We do need to learn how to balance wanting to be corporative/collaborative and needing to be critical, without uncritically following the crowd 😊

Blogging and the Genre of Blog Writing

I have enjoyed the experience of writing blogs. As an academic who writes academic materials and teaches critical thinking and academic/professional communication, I found this genre less taxing as I could relax the stringent rules of academic writing and still maintain academic rigour to the degree I wanted. I thought the writeup How to write an academic blog post – Author Services (taylorandfrancis.com) provides useful information of how to write academic blogs.

I will continue blogging after ONL to disseminate my contributions to the field and to consider how I could use it to cultivate a following, a community with similar interests and potential clients.

Blogging for me too has been a powerful way to consolidate my thinking over a two-week period and to synthesize what I had read and listened to, into a very tangible form (product).

I still have a long way to go to develop the craft and to maximize the blog functionality for greater effectiveness and impact. I hope to get better and more professional at it 😊

Collaborating in the PBL Group

My work in academia has involved collaborating with many people on many projects. The experience of collaboration in ONL has been somewhat different and I’m not sure how effective it has been or even how effectiveness in this context is measured. I guess because of the extreme differences in backgrounds and background knowledge, coupled with a lack of experience in moderating groups, I was sometimes left wondering how much of our time was actually productive and if we could have achieved more. My discussion in the earlier section of this blog on moderation and group development could provide some insight on we can collaborate better.

As such, I found that I gained most during my own reading or listening to input on the reading lists. I wonder if having a few more experienced people in a group could help. I wonder if studies have been done on how best to set groups up i.e., if intentional rather than random grouping produces better group performance?

The quality of my learning so far

I must say that the course content is excellent and the management have done a great job in creating this course. I am humbled by their generosity in sharing knowledge and making it accessible to their global learners. They certainly follow the principles of “open” and “networked” learning.

I have hence gained a lot of information and have had time to synthesize a lot of what I ‘ve read and heard. This is very satisfying. However, being someone who likes to go deep, I found that I need to take offline many of the things I would be interested in learning further.

Unfortunately, I’m not exactly thrilled by the learning experience within the PBL group. This could be because I’ve been in other groups in other contexts and lead groups myself and was comparing the current experience to what I’ve had. I can’t quite put a figure on it but what my gut tells me is for a learner to feel satisfied in a PBL group, there must be some criteria they could measure success against. I’ve also alluded to Tuckman’s model and included some pointers in the earlier sections to enhance group dynamics and outcomes.

Perhaps, the management could develop criteria from the literature and help each group benchmark their development / performance against the criteria? It will also be really good to understand what good practices are and document them for us to emulate or adapt.

 Conclusion

I have experienced disruption during the first half of ONL due to the transitions between countries and the various moves I’ve had to make over a two- to- three-week period. However, I have tried my best to stay abreast of things through careful planning and open communication of my moves to the group.

I am glad I was able to raise my concerns re scheduling with Filip and had great input from Lars on how this was a classic example of what happens in the storming stage in group development and what we could do to get past it into the norming and performing stages.

Topic 2 : Musings on Open Learning- sharing and openness

Introduction

I am new to the notion of Open Learning and in this blog, I’ll discuss how far I’ve come with my understanding of the notion and what more I need to know to ascertain my position using Cronin’s labels of, practitioner, researcher, advocate, critic, wonderer, agnostic or something else. Also, needless to say, a two-week exposure in ONL barely scrapes the surface of all the knowledge and discussions available in the literature. 

The Philosophy Behind Open Education

I agree the philosophy behind open education that “universities’ knowledge should be freely accessible and openly available to everyone” (Weller, 2014) is a noble one. It levels the playing field and makes it possible for anyone and everyone to access knowledge for their development and empowerment. I hence fully agree with UNESCO (2019) that open education “democratizes and increases access to education and knowledge.  

Meanings of “Openness”

A starting place for me to think about opening learning was to work out what it meant. I found the discussion of the interpretations of “openness” offered by Cronin (2017) shown in Figure 1 are useful. Her interpretations include

  • open-door policies on admissions such as those that guide Open Universities
  • open as free resources such as those available on YouTube videos, podcasts, MOOCs
  • open educational resources (OER) where licences are granted for remix of materials
  • open educational practices (OEP) which promote the creation of OERs through innovative pedagogical models.
Figure 1. Interpretations of “Open” (Credit: Image by Catherine CroninCC BY-SA)

The Operation of Open Education

The next question I asked myself was how the notion of “openness” is operationalised. I found the description on operation by Open Education helpful for a start. The Open Education Consortium describes this form of education as “resources, tools, and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve educational access and effectiveness worldwide.” This suggests to me that a framework is needed to operationalize the educational ideal of open learning and that this framework can help me identify open learning practices that are either more or less effective in achieving the ideals of open learning.

Since the key attribute of “openness” according to Weller (2014) is freedom– for individuals to

  • access content
  • reuse it in ways they see fit
  • develop new methods of working
  • take advantage of the opportunities the digital, networked world offers

I think it is necessary to explore some of the considerations that guide the practice in openness.  

Some Considerations about Open Learning Practices

  • Quality Assurance and Quality of Learning in OERs

While there is a huge financial benefit for students who are provided access to open courses, the responsibility lies with the service provider to assess the suitability of the materials for the end user as students are unlikely to be able to make judgements on the quality and suitability of content to meet their learning needs without the help of the expert content creators or facilitators. As such, it is important for creators of courses and end users to use and provide explicit frameworks to ensure the quality assurance of open resources. Some of the frameworks I’ve come across include the CARE Framework and TEMOA Rubric to provide benchmarks for evaluating the quality of open resources.

Other indicators suggested in the literature (Yuan & Recker, 2019) include

  • Quality of explanation of the subject matter
  • Quality of instructional practice and exercises
  • Accuracy
  • Clarity
  • Appropriateness
  • Learning goal alignment
  • Reusability

In addition to using quality assurance frameworks, I would also consider how to measure the quality of learning to make the courses worthwhile for learners. This latter would be more critical for learners seeking accreditation through open learning. It would matter less, if learners are less serious about their learning (the literature suggests a high dropout rate in open courses). This then begs the question- with the broad spectrum of learners who participate in open learning, how would we pitch the standards of our courses and ensure the reputation of our universities are not compromised.  

  • Academic Integrity, Contribution, Attribution and OEPs

While OEPs such as open pedagogies promote student engagement in work that go beyond the boundaries of the classroom, as discussed in Open Learning: What It Is and How You Can Benefit (northeastern.edu) and encourage collaborations that the digital and networked world offers, there issues around academic integrity, the recognition of contributions and related accordance of attribution which need to be teased out.

With respect to academic integrity, while creative commons licences require the acknowledgement of originality, I wonder if this is open to abuse and if there are regulatory systems that can actually prevent this form of abuse.

I have witnessed how students could abuse freedoms with openness in my university where we saw plagiarism scores on Turnitin go up. Students and probably staff need to be coached on where the lines are drawn between original contribution and adaptations how these works need to be cited. Coming from a world where, we have strived very hard to make original contributions to academia, I am not confident that everyone knows how to use open licenced materials responsibly. I recently had a bad experience which opened my eyes to the fact that the boundary lines between originality and adaptation seemed not to be understood – a colleague used my original set of slides for herself by changing some words without asking for any permission from me. It was good that she presented her material to the team first and I could point out that she needed to use her own original slide deck for her component of the team presentation.

With regards to academic contribution and attribution, the question of when and if academics are ready to make their resources open is a critical one since publications, including textbook-writing, form part of their contribution to their field. This is a tricky question and I wonder if there can be an inbuilt system in the process of open content creation that is able to maintain the attribution accorded to the various parties. This should then show up in citations and prevent freeloaders from trying to gain recognition for materials they have contributed very little to.

Conclusion

To conclude my brief discussion, I would say that from what I’ve read so far that I am still a critic of open learning. Though I am completely for the idea of democratizing education by making it accessible, affordable, available and attainable to the masses, and open learning is one way to achieve this, I’m not convinced that we have sufficiently teased out some of the considerations I’ve raised to truly be able as educators to say that open learning is on the whole worthwhile and that we are not compromising on quality of content or learning,  and that we have adequately coached learners in the norms of academic integrity and ethics. Having said that, I do not want to throw the baby out from the bathwater. I would say that open learning has great value in contexts where learning is not a high stakes goal and where there are alternative ways of recognising, measuring and rewarding learning. I would need more time to think about what these contexts might be in my own practice and to continue to grapple with the issues I’ve raised in this blog to be able to make more informed decisions about open practices in relation to my own practice.

References

Cronin, C.(2017).Open Education , Open Questions. Educase Review 52, no 6 (November/December 2017)

Farrell, O., Breen, E., Brunton, J., Cox, R., Costello, E., Delaney, L., Gallagher, E., Smyth, V. (2021). Go Open: A Beginners Guide to Open Education. Dublin: DCU. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.4593103

Yuan, M., & Recker, M. (2019). Does audience matter? Comparing teachers’ and non-teachers’ application and perception of quality rubrics for evaluating open educational resources. Educational Technology Research and Development, 67(1), 39–61.

Topic 1: Residency in Digital Spaces in Flux: Visitors, Residents or Something In- between?

Preamble/Introduction: flux in digital spaces

My reflection on digital literacies will be from the perspective of how I position myself in the digital landscape which David White describes as a horizontal and vertical continuum conceptualized in 4 quadrants (see V& R maps from various sources below).

mapshighlights.png

A selection of V& R maps from a range of sources (https://docs.google.com/document/d/0B_sfm89i9DC9STZxY3E4RVhsUVU/edit?resourcekey=0-4O2NtK2ES_Y-VZ_KsobwoA#)

I can say I used to clearly be a visitor who only used social media or technology for purely transactional purposes – emailing, purchasing items, posting information and the such. This was definitely not the space in which I would spend time creating my identity or building relationships as the residents of this space would. My ideas about this space recently have started evolving as I am beginning to see how I could potentially use the space to create my professional identity and build my professional networks as I seek to rebrand myself from a traditional lecturer to  an educational consultant/researcher with expertise in curriculum and literacy

Apart from recognizing the potential of digital spaces to build my unique academic identity, I also see it as a  space where I can build learning and professional communities with clients and peers.

From the perspective of using the space to create learning environments, I see great potential. While the face-to-face platforms have huge advantages in terms of facilitating social, cognitive and teacher presence (Garrison, 2007) required for creating learning environments for students to thrive in, the digital space provides other benefits that if harnessed with the right tools, can potentially take learning even further, making it available to a wider audience who can access learning anytime and anywhere.

I see how the digital space offers students the platform to co-construct knowledge and be reviewed by peers, helping them to straddle to the more resident-institutional space of White’s quadrant. In addition, the digital footprints left by learners can potentially provide opportunities I can use for developing critical thinking and more academic personas for them. These footprints also provide very valuable evidence for evaluating the impact of our own teaching. While our students are familiar with the personal uses of these spaces, we can stretch them toward using them for academic purposes such as constructing cogent arguments/ points and allowing themselves to be peer reviewed or constructively critiqued by others.

For me as a literacy specialist in academic and professional writing who infuses twenty-first century capabilities such as critical thinking and problem solving in my courses, this space provides a tangible one which records thinking and writing processes (digital footprints) as I facilitate the development of skills/capabilities which are being recognized as the top ten to be growing in prominence in the next five years by the world economic forum. It provides a space for students to cultivate their voice and an environment which is well moderated; one in which students can be enculturated into the practices of the academic and professional communities they a aspiring to enter.

The two illustrations I’ve provided in this preamble reflect a gradual movement for my students from the resident-social to visitor-institutional quadrant and for me from the resident-institutional to visitor-social quadrant. I would imagine that eventually, we would be occupying one another’s traditionally inhabited spaces as our motivations for using online tools changes.

Motivation for participating in ONL 212

My awareness that I’m transitioning from one space to the other enables me to recognize the potential of the digital space in learning and teaching and in my rebranding journey. The recognition of my transition motivates me to learn about tools that in my hands can be used to achieve these ends. My interest in developing knowledge in technological tools hence is driven by pedagogy and purpose because tools can only be effective if we can understand their potential to achieve our purposes e.g., to facilitate better learning and to build academic identities in learning and professional communities. And to me, this is how I strike the balance among the constructs of technology– pedagogy -purpose. This has become my motivation for joining ONL212 when invited by a former colleague, Alan Soong 😊.I want to learn about the issues that surround the digital spaces, identify what tools are available and the potential they have in enabling me to achieve the aspirations I’ve alluded to earlier within the digital space.

Implications of moving into the digital space

Rebranding in the digital space: time, perseverance and lots of patience

The journey into the digital space for me was initially not a comfortable one. This was because I was not well connected to reliable knowledge sources to build a systematic and sound foundation of knowledge required for the switch. It took me much time to search through web and LinkedIn sites to locate people who possessed the knowledge I was looking for to fill my knowledge gaps.

After much time, perseverance and patience, I struck one or two people who had ‘solid’ and academically credible knowledge bases. This helped me launch off to action. As I had been used to showcasing my expertise in conferences, academic articles and training sessions run by universities, I decided to begin to think about how an academic could extend their reach by capitalizing on LinkedIn and Blog spaces to showcase their expertise. This is what I’m learning about right now – working out how I can present my academic persona (without compromise) in the new space to draw the desired traffic who could benefit from my expertise.

LinkedIn as a platform for creating academic and professional presence and building networks

Building learning and professional communities: time, tools, pedagogy, boundaries

In terms of building learning communities, I grapple with issues sues such as maintaining effective engagement and motivation in an online learning platform. This makes the learning curve steep for me as it is not only about developing awareness of the available tools for engagement and collaboration as I acquire in ONL but also about the need to find the space and time to acquire their use and the underlying pedagogical theories to infuse them into the lessons in my repository. It is a balancing act for me as I learn to manage the many things on my plate during this transition phase.

In terms of building professional communities, I grapple with having to sieve through massive amounts of information to identify the communities I want to be known in and be a part of. Unlike working in the F-to-F space, this is very time consuming. For one, the online space seems to have no boundaries unlike the traditional institutional space I’ve worked in. This means that initially, I need to spend more time than usual to establish my presence and build relationships with the target groups I select. There are two things I need to get better at to achieve the goals I mentioned earlier: work out where to draw boundaries and determine realistically how much time I should invest in building these online relationships.

Conclusion

As I develop my competence in digital literacies, I’m fully conscious that I’m dealing with “a set of academic and professional situated practices supported by diverse and changing technologies”(JISC guide, 2014). I also recognize that this literacy potentially covers key literacies (media, communication & collaboration, career and identify management, ICT, learning skills, digital scholarship, information literacy) that are relevant to my context. There are no shortcuts and the development begins with identifying the technologies and acquiring the skills to use them for the purposes that are important to achieving social good I’m after.

It is also realistic to acknowledge that acquiring this literacy is a lifelong project which is in constant flux. It is likely to require constant the remixing of the 8 elements (cognitive, constructive, communicative, civic, critical, creative, confident and cultural) which Belshaw alludes to in The essential elements of digital literacies

Finally, it is unlikely that we can claim to be resident or visitor in the long run as our motivations, roles and use of the digital space continues to evolve.

References

Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide.

Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issuesJournal of Asynchronous Learning Networks11(1), 61-72.

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9)

Connecting Week

Hello all

Connecting week for me was an interesting experience. I realize we have a really diverse group – rich in differences!

We spent much time trying to figure out roles and how to best work together but I don’t think we have arrived at a clear how to. Perhaps is is how PBL in this context works – we discover the best how to as we go along.

I for one do have some experience in facilitation and working in the PBL space so I’ll explore how I can harness all that is going on in the group to create a rich end product or final outcome:)

The journey begins…….

Introduction: Dr Santhakumari Thanasingam’s Pen-Portrait

I am an education and literacy specialist with expertise in pedagogy and practice for designing,  implementing and evaluating curricula that that seek to cultivate employability skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, self-direction and communication within the teaching of  various areas of disciplinary knowledge.

My experience of over 20 years spans across secondary, polytechnic and university education in Singapore, Hong Kong and Auckland. My qualifications include

  • SFHEA (accreditation), Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education, UK (in progress)
  • PhD in Education (Literacy and Critical Thinking), University of Auckland and recipient of two scholarships :The University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship and The Marie Clay Literacy Scholarship.
  • MA in Applied Linguistics (*TESOL), Macquarie University, Sydney and recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s award for academic excellence
  • BA (Hons) in Linguistics, Monash University, Melbourne
  • CertEducation (with merit), National Institute of Education, Singapore

I have drawn on my in-depth understanding of educational and literacy pedagogy and practice to produce versatile, relevant and innovative knowledge solutions in the form of curricula which combine the selection of suitable pedagogy with relevant employability skills, in order to achieve enhanced learning outcomes in various disciplines and contexts. At the postgraduate level, I have collaborated with colleagues running the professional masters for Accounting and for Human Resource Management to design and implement materials that promote the critical thinking , reading and writing skills required for thinking and communication within the respective disciplines. At the undergraduate level, I have collaborated with colleagues from Engineering, Applied Linguistics and Teaching and Learning to develop curricula that promote the use of blended learning for developing communication and English Proficiency; the infusion of self-directed learning to promote deeper learning and engagement in the cultivation of disciplinary knowledge. At the primary school level, I have collaborated with a head of department and her team to develop self-direction in the interdisciplinary English Language curriculum. I am currently exploring the development of curricula for solving critical thinking problems in the private sector

Apart from leading curriculum projects that implement university-wide initiatives, I have also mentored and conducted capacity building and training for fellow academics and participants from the Ministry of Education. My work has been disseminated to the wider educational community through several technology, literacy and education conferences and published conference proceedings.

I continue to be versatile, innovative and relevant in my approach to developing, implementing and evaluating curricula and am particularly sensitive of the need to be aware of cultural differences required for relationship building and collaborations because I’ve worked, studied and lived in various countries. My practice not only draws from sound theory and from keeping abreast of up-to-date information but also from my years of having been an effective practitioner in classrooms located in various settings and among various audiences. 

*Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages