OK.  Whew.

Last fall when I took a digital photography class, our teacher encouraged us to find some way to record our learning and reflect on it, etc…  I (of course) chose a blog.  It was so fun for me to put my lecture notes up there, to look up every photographer mentioned in the lecture and include links to those websites, to find my own resources online for the topics we were covering (rather than buying the textbook)… 

I was the only one in class using a blog for this purpose.  So, it worked for me.

In THIS class, I am spending so much time trying to view all the resources being made available, read other students’ blogs (and comment on them sometimes) that I barely have time to keep this blog up to date…  Then, I start feeling like I have to post reflections of all the videos I’ve watched and blogs I’ve read in the order I experienced them… but I don’t have time…  Argh!

I gave up.  Instead, I’m just going to post whatever is on my mind when I have time to post and today, it will be answers to Alec’s mid-course questions.

It occurs to me that the questions might be answered differently in different contexts…  For example, if I were an elementary school teacher considering the use of this technology in my classroom, I would have one set of answers.  These answers are from the perspective of an addicted life-long learner who has always been fascinated by education and technology.

  1. What are your thoughts so far on open and networked learning?It is challenging and invigorating.  As a busy wife and mother with a fulltime job, I love the flexibility that this type of learning offers me.  This is the first official, organized “class” I have taken in this manner.  Most of my learning using these methods has been informal and (somewhat) random.  Blogs, videos (love TED), You-tube, websites, and much more more to choose from.  My “Passion for Nature” blog is essentially my learning journal for exploring the natural world.  My “Digital Photography” blog was my learning journal for a traditional classroom-style course.
  2. What are the pros and cons of this type of learning experience?

    For me, the biggest pro is flexibility.  I can attend lectures in my pajamas, check others’ blogs at 2am when I can’t sleep, re-watch things that really interest me, skip around.

    One of the down sides is not getting to meet people in person.  Also, the flexibility sometimes leads to tangents and difficulty staying focused on the tasks at hand.  It can be hard to keep up with the sheer volume of opportunities.

  3. How can we improve this learning experience?
    I’m not sure yet… Ask me again later.
  4. Does any of this inform the way you teach or learn (or could/should teach and learn)?
    I am taking this class to explore technologies I haven’t yet tried and to see if there might be ways to use them at the Nature Center where I work.  We have a huge outreach program to area schools, but as budgets become tighter, I wonder if there are different models to teach environmental education that don’t involve bussing kids many miles to our Center.  Also, I wonder if there are ways to deliver our classroom programs without going to the schools.  I wonder if there are classroom teachers who would be willing (and able) to work with us on some innovations…
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