Social Configurations of Learning – Communities, Groups, Nets and Sets

As part of my research, I need to explore how people cluster together when they learn socially online. This is really interesting to me, because prior to this, I hadn’t given much thought to the differences between networks, communities and the like; I tended to use the words interchangeably. Lots of people do! Whether it is a network or a community, a group or a set may not really matter to you as an individual learner, because usually the main thing the learner is worried about is getting to the information or the person who will be able to best...

Getting friendly with Printfriendly #blogjune

So I have decided to take on #blogjune . For those unaware, it is a project that challenges participants to blog every day during the month of June; hence the question ‘am I mad?’ which is floating around in my head. I have no idea how I will go, particularly over weekends, which are typically my time away from the desk, but I will do my utmost! What to blog about? Those of you who have encountered my blog before will know that I am a full time doctoral student, previously librarian, previously teacher, who is studying how teachers experience professional...

Making Your Practice Public: the special sauce of professional learning!

During my studies, I have been reading a lot of research about what makes professional learning effective. Professional learning is something that governments, education systems and schools invest a lot of money in, and so as you can imagine, there is quite a lot of research about what ‘works’ and what doesn’t. In fact, there was a recent meta-analysis that included fifteen research reviews, which altogether  included 550 studies, all looking into exactly this: what key features are found in effective professional learning. What is considered effective professional learning? While what makes professional learning effective for one teacher may be completely different...

Professional Learning, Professional Development…what’s in a name?

I will admit that earlier in my career, I looked forward to professional development opportunities as a chance to escape the classroom, spend the day with adults, conversing at a professional level and enjoying a lunch where I could actually sit down and digest my food, and maybe even drink a coffee while it was still hot. While I was teaching in the Early Years, the intense pressure of meeting the needs of 30 little beings was something I loved, but also something that I occasionally needed to run away from. I tended to think of professional development days as...

Looking back on ONL161

flickr photo shared by helga tawil souri under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license So many times we enrol in online courses full of hope and anticipation, ready to participate fully and learn so much! And then, due to a wide range of reasons, our participation falters, and our busy lives take over like an ocean, until the sand on which we had scraped out our intentions is once again smooth. It is commonly quoted that the completion rate for Moocs is very low. However I am proud to be one of those who have gotten to the finish...

Being open

Open education is one of those things that I can’t help but love. The idea that information, resources or research should be locked down and accessible only to a privileged few is fundamentally opposed to my personal opinion that education is a basic human right that should be available to everyone. I have learnt A LOT from people generously sharing their time, their research or their resources with me. Whether I was working with a mentor teacher who freely allowed me to use their resources, gathered through years of hard graft and experience, or jumping online to seek the combined...

Flexible Learning – Putting the Stretch Back into Education

Everytime you learn something new, I believe that you are stretching. Stretching your mind to take in a new concept and build connections (neural and otherwise) around it, stretching your body and building muscle memory that enables automaticity and strength. Without the stretch, you aren’t making the connections, and without the connections, learning hasn’t happened. Education does not equate to learning. Many attend educational activities and learn little or nothing. This may be due to a multitude of reasons. It may be that the individual is merely attending and not participating in the learning (they are physically there, but mentally elsewhere).  It may...

Algorithms and Filter Bubbles – time to think again

While I am studying, I have also been working as a sessional academic, and this semester I have been really fortunate to work with Kate Davis who is the co-ordinator and teacher of Social Technologies through QUT. I am playing a very minor role; popping in and out of the online community, and marking some of the students’ work, but I have really enjoyed taking this different perspective of social technologies, as this subject is part of the Bachelor of Information Technology; it’s the first subject I’ve been involved it outside of the school of Education. One of Kate’s areas...

Collaborative Learning and Learning Communities

Learning is social Much of what I have been reading and reflecting on has been shaped by my belief that quite a lot of learning is social. I don’t mean social in the sense of going to a bar with friends and having a drink; I mean social as in constructed with others. While a lot of the learning that I do seems to be individual right now, it is not until I write down what I am thinking, what I believe that I have learnt and how I have connected it to previous experiences or understandings that the learning...

Informal Learning

Learning everyday In a rapidly changing world, it seems like we are learning all of the time. We are constantly bombarded with technologies which require us to learn new ways to communicate, new ways to work and even to new ways to learn. Using the internet to learn has for many of us become second nature; how often has the conversation paused while someone Googles just who did sing that song, or exactly how to travel to a restaurant? Learning is no longer limited to the first part of our lives, when our days were filled with teachers and textbooks...