About this Blog

As a blogger of some two years experience of both a team blog for professional issues and a personal blog of musings and diary entries I have decided to take the plunge and set myself my own professional blog which will help me to reflect on my professionalism and my continuing professional development.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Just a Quick Note...

Have just come across the work of Sheila Webber at University of Sheffield. Will have a look in more detail and post some reflections here.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

My first experience with SL

Well, I created my avatar - Almenah Telling almost a year ago now. My colleague and I were developing an MSc to be delivered on line and wanted to look at SL as a space for potential teaching areas - or if not then certainly for a graduation ceremony for our students. It was my colleague who introduced me to SL - she had heard of it but not joined so we registered at the same time.
Registering was relatively painless - although choosing a name was harder than I thought - I chose an old family christian name (Almenah) as I had been researching my family tree about the same time and it was fresh in my mind. I have chosen a rather conservative look for myself and am still not confident in changing my appearance - my friend was more adventurous but ended up wearing a box and didn't know how to change it - so I have yet to experiment.
I arrived in orientation island and practiced moving around - with similar experiences that others have talked about - bumping into people, and finding maps etc difficult to read - but this didn't take too long. Realising that I could walk through water, fall off high things etc and still get up was strange. Have you seen this youtube video? A very real representation of my first steps!!
I must admit to not making the most of orientation and I was soon searching and teleporting to other areas - trying to keep to educational areas - but not always suceeding - and there are a number of areas that can be rather shocking to see at first.
I ahve tried to find freebies, win money etc but have not been successful, I have, however, sat in a flying sleigh with santa, ice skated, eaten a roast dinner and met my friend for a coffee.
I left Almenah for quite a few months as other things took precedence - but I am really enjoying the opportunity to ressurect her and find my way around with the support and guidance of people who know what they are doing.

Just as a quick addition - I have just attended my first meeting in SL - I have discussed painting, calculus and tap dancing with people from Venezuela, Belgium, Portugal and Reading - how surreal is that! Oh, and for some reason I appeared to have a ghostly spectre sitting next to me - but apparently that was a settings problem - I wonder if SL has hauntings?

Thursday, 30 October 2008

And so it begins...

My new blog coincides with some on-line training I have just begun on intergrating multi-user virtual environments into teaching practice. Sounds rather complex and high-tech I know - and believe me, when I have looked at the other participants and their experiences I am feeling rather small and inexperienced, (just hope I don't show myself up too early in the course - although I may already have done that by emailing one of the course organisers for a password when I had it all along!!). But on a positive note I guess I can only move forwards in my knowledge and experience and have nothing but to gain from the experience of others.

So my first tasks on the programme are to reflect on the following:

Can we learn from each other? My previous experience of being a student at degree and masters level has followed the more traditional route of face to face learning, and I will admit to preferring to learn independently of others, making my own way through the learning experience and demonstrating my own outcomes at the end with the usual assessment. However, over the last 2 years I have been involved in co-developing an MSc in Advanced Occupational Therapy to be delivered totally on line - from registration to graduation. This means that we will never see our students face to face in the "real world" and I have had to spend a huge amount of time learning, understanding and using a range of applications that allow contact with and between our students in the process of their learning.
What I have experienced is a whole new aspect to learning - that of networking with people and organisations that I would never have met under "normal" circumstances. I have "met" with occupational therapists in New Zealand, New Zealand [2], Malaysia using skype, wikis, blogs and virtual classrooms. I have been inspired by blogs run by a midwife in New Zealand, and many more blogs from backgrounds considered unrelated to my own experience, but who have offered support and guidance in my endeavours.
Recently a group of us who met via blogging presented at my professional body conference on how social networking is bringing occupational therapists together. The presentation was developed across 3 different countries and presented by the UK posse - who only met for the first time in the real world on the morning of the presentation.
Finally, I took part in the 31 Day Blog Challenge which has really aided me to become a better blog citizen by introducing me to netiquette and online identity.
So, what have I learned from this?

a) That there is much to be gained from moving out of my comfort zone and creating an online presence for networking with others
b) that I have a keen interest and a limited knowledge of the virtual world in terms of learning
c) that learning often happens unintentionally - ie as a result of a conversation/email/blogpost comment.
d) that the issue of online identity and online presence are quite complex
e) that I still enjoy learning new things and engaging in new experiences
f) that I enjoy online learning and can engage in a more productive way than in traditional learning environments

I have been particularly keen to use wikis and have found these invaluable for a variety of occasions in relation to organising and collecting data. In particular I have introduced them to my undergraduate students as a way of developing the PBL (problem-based learning) approach to many of their modules. Students are able to share their learning and report a much deeper learning experience in sharing in this way. I intend to consider developing my professional portfolio by using a wiki - as one of my blogging colleagues has done - but I have yet to make a start on this. I am hovering on the brink of how public an identity I want to create for myself, what to share within a public arena etc.
I am, of course, extremely excited about Second Life and can see huge potential for educational purposes - but I have tried to run before I can walk and now find that I really have very little understanding of what it can do - so am very keen to remedy this within the training.

In terms of being a pioneer - yes I would say that in my own field I would be classed as one of those leading the way into linking technology into a constructivist pedagogy . Our new MSc is the first totally online programme developed in this way at the University of Salford and within Occupational Therapy in the UK. We have pushed (and continue to push) boundaries within the university in terms of having an online presence, intellectual property rights, using negotiated assessment for all modules etc. We have often been frustrated at the slow response to needs - but have so far remained optimstic on the outcomes and we have received support from many areas within the university.

So, my first blogpost comes to a close. I can see that I have not reflected as deeply as I would like to have done, I definitely need to brush up my skills of analysis and conclusion - as I would comment on my student's work - I have possible spent too long on the description of the events rather than the reflection. I will try harder next time. Please feel free to offer comment on this post. Thanks