#etmooc What I Learned in January

Warning – Long Blog Post – go make yourself a cup of tea…

This is going to be one of my monthly posts to cover off on various professional development activities I’m have started, in progress or completed.

Before you ask, “how do you squeeze it all in?” let me just say that I seem to be connected at most hours of the day (through PC, laptop, tablet or iPhone), I don’t have kids, there were public holidays through it and my husband had the cricket on TV for most hours of the day which stunned me into boredom so this is what I did….

Books I read…

  • The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica – great reading that tells us that the best way to prepare for the future is to make more of ourselves by finding our talents and passions. The Element is the meeting point between your aptitude and your personal passion. This book made me sit, think and reflect what my passion may be – the time when I go into a flow, a time where I have an identity, a purpose. What made me get into Learning and Development did and why? I’m coming to the realisation that I like working with clients, different projects, creating and implementing solutions to performance problems and then writing about them. I like listening to the stories and then writing about them. Inclined to be more of an introvert, the written form appeals to me more than verbal. After all, years of journal writing and blogging since 2003 is obviously trying to tell me something. I would highly recommend this book.
  • Work Smarter with Evernote by Alexandra Samuel is one of a series of books by HBR on working smarter. This short book is not meant to be a manual in how to use Evernote but just a teaser – enough to get anyone to learn the basics of this wonderful tool. I use Evernote daily; collect snippets of information and web clips; tag them and place them into notebooks. Last week, one of my notebooks on Mobile Learning came in handy when a colleague asked me if I had any information on creating a mobile learning strategy. It was like I was pulling a rabbit out of a hat – I shared my Evernote notebook and in effect, did all her research for her. She was impressed and I used it as an opportunity to sell her the benefits of Evernote.
  • Currently reading Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart How to Thrive Online on the Kindle. There’s a lot of information that I’m annotating but for some reason the formatting on the Kindle doesn’t make it for a pleasant reading experience. This book is going to take a while to read simply because it is dense with lots of information that needs to be reflected on.
  • Nearly finished Chris Jones (@sourcepov) , “The Collaboration of DNA: Unlocking the Potential of 21st Century Teams” where he talks about the importance of creativity, culture, community and trust in work based teams and how we’re more productive when we’re connected.
  • Currently reading Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” – How had I not read this book before? I must be one of the few people in this world who hasn’t read this 30 year old classic. Much if not all of what he wrote rings true today especially, the question of why technology has alienated us from the rest of the world today; rationalism vs creativity and he does it all as he tells his story. Somehow I think this book is going to be mentioned in some future blog post or in a presentation in my near future….

Courses I Have Started, In Progress or Completed

  1. I completed the Professional Learning Portfolio Workshop with the Social Learning Centre which I enjoyed immensely. I wrote a blog post on “How Do You Make Your Learning Visible?” which covered aspects of this course the the MOOC below. You can read it here.
  2. Educational Technology MOOC #etMOOC (a cMOOC) – participated in a couple of webinars with Dean Shareski on Sharing and Accountability and Rhizomatic Learning with Dave Cormier (@davecormier), various tweet chats and the best Google+ community where I have learned heaps of great tips, tools and techniques. I’m enjoying this MOOC so far but it’s not like a course as we know it. In fact, I’ve been lurking and fishing around in other peoples blog posts and only contributing to ones that really connected with me in some way. If someone asks you, “do you learn anything if you’re lurking?” – I’d say that for me, yes, definitely. I’ve picked up handy tips, tools, techniques that I squirrelled away into Evernote to be used in the near future.
  3. Fundamentals of Online Education Planning and Application (an xMOOC on Coursera) I promoted this course to my colleagues as a means of inspiring them to learn more about MOOCs and also as their professional development. We are madly moving much of our Facilitator Led courseware into an online format but there is a limited budget for professional development so this is the perfect solution for those who have no background in instructional design to learn and grasp the learning theories and methodologies. Already, I see immediate applications to my work (despite the constant reference to “children” when it comes to learning in the course content but on the whole, I see its benefits. I also LOVE that the Course Teacher has put us into groups of 20 so we can connect with them rather than get lost in the thousands!) So far, I am really enjoying this MOOC because it’s structured and there’s lots of different activities to keep me engaged.
  4. E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (an xMOOC on Coursera) #edcmooc. This one was a late registration. I had read through the course overview some time ago but admittedly, it didn’t excite me because it seemed too theoretical and abstract. However, as it was a public holiday yesterday, I was viewing the Twitter stream #edcmooc which had a level of excitement, I thought, “why not?, it’s free! Go for it!” Well after viewing the 4 videos and then reading the heavy theoretical and academic reseach papers, my original suspicions were confirmed. My mind grappled with the applicability of this content to my work. Here’s a transcript of the tweets with Craig Taylor (@CraigTaylor74) about our initial perceptions…
Stay or Go? We wait and see....

Stay or Go? We wait and see….

I don’t know whether I will stay with this MOOC but I may lurk to see what else comes of it and if there’s anything I can siphon and use in my work directly.


  1. Professional Learning Portfolio software called Pathbrite which was a lot of fun to use. I created my own online portfolio here.
  2. I’ve been designing handouts to my heart’s content with Piktochart. A colleague came by my desk and looked at my screen that jumped with colours and shapes and enquired what I was doing. I explained the tool and lo and behold, Piktochart spread like wildfire in our team so now we’re all using this tool – until the free registration runs out. Sadly, hope it isn’t overkill to our learners….
  3. Been enjoying these reflections from Benjamin Wilkoff’s video podcasts about his learning from #etmooc. As much as I try to vlog – it doesn’t come naturally to me as other lecturers and teachers – I’d much prefer to write (and I don’t care about syntax and grammar when I’m on a roll)… One in particularly was this one that talked about how learning is cyclic..


I sent out an email to 50 friends and colleagues late last year and asked them ‘What do I Suck At‘ (refer to Marc Ensign’s post here as I did exactly what he did). Many of the people who responded gave me some insightful feedback on myself that I thought was kept hidden but overall, there were no real surprises.

However, I was not alone. Andrew Jacobs @AndrewJacobsLD (http://lostanddesperate.com) also did the same thing and together we decided that we would write a joint post on our experience and learning. Standby for that one!

What is the Universe Trying to Tell Me?

Story telling! Over the last couple of months this has been playing around in my head and it all started by thinking about the great stories that were part of my daily life many years ago when I was in the Navy. I wrote about it here.

Since then, there have been so many tweets, references, that have returned to me about the value of stories and narratives that I’m taking it as a sign that I have to do something about it.

This morning a small group of Learning and Development Professionals (as part of our LearningCafe group hosted by my Twitter pal Jasmine – @JMalki) gathered at a Melbourne cafe for breakfast and our topic of discussion was “Organisational Storytelling”. The discussion was animated and interesting and what surprised me was that their organisations were doing some form of it already. I took plenty of notes but need to reflect on this as it’s likely to be a future blog post – or an article of some sort.

Fun Stuff

Going mobile with Android…

I am now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet (thanks Santa) and love it! I’ve been learning my way around the various settings and applications as well as learning Google Play. I ordered various accessory attachments for my tripod so that I can start taking video footage with the tablet (as opposed to my JVC camera) and have a go at editing and finalising footage on the tablet. I do find the tablet keyboard slow and cumbersome so my next purchase will be keyboard attachment.

A nice poem about learning…

Thanks to Gerardine Rudolphy(@GerardineTweets) who posted this poem by Professor Richard Bawden:

“If you always think what you have always thought
Then you will always bring what you have always brought
And always teach what you have always taught
and always fight what you have always fought.
If you always think what you have always thought
You will always seek what you have always sought
Then you will always catch what you have always caught
and always wreak what you have always wrought.
If you always live by what is and never ought
Then your power will always be nearer nought.
Richard Bawden

Alan Levine’s Challenge

Alan Levine challenged us to say our story on “True Stories of Openness” on how social media has impacted our learning. Needless to say, I’m uncomfortable in front of the camera normally but in order to get into the spirit of things, yes…I did it!

If you’re wondering where it is… you’ll have to wait as it’s being uploaded to YouTube because someone forgot to change the settings and is currently uploading a 354MB file!! (DOH!)

Do I stop it and redo? Stuff it, it’s up to 44% uploaded – not going to stop it now.

*Sigh* The challenges of technology…okay, absentmindedness…

Lip Sync Dub Participation – Or Upcoming Entry on Australia’s Most Funniest Home Videos

As part of a fun activity that #etmoocers are doing, I participated in a global Lip Sync dub to the music of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen. I had to tape myself singing the line, “I’m Burning Through The Sky Yeah” and now await for all the clips to be put together. This is going to be fun!

Of course our neighbours didn’t think so. I had to simulate that I was flying through the air so I pushed our large wheelie (rubbish) bin to our front yard, laid down a towel and jumped up on it pretending to lay down and fly while my husband(@TigerTex1) lay down on the grass and took video footage of me pretending to fly and the sky. Needless to say, I dented the bin hood, my husband couldn’t get up because of his crook knee and we had passers by stop and take a look while their dogs on the leads barked at us.

In the end, it was all too hard, so we took the footage standing up…. (once it’s ready, I’ll make sure I share so you can all have a laugh)…

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
This entry was posted in Development, ETMOOC and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to #etmooc What I Learned in January

  1. Thanks Benjamin, much appreciated. Keep up the great work with your vlogs too!

  2. bhwilkoff says:

    Thank you for including my video in this post. I loved reading about all of the things that you are learning. It really does seem to weave everything together, and I like your emphasis both on mobile and storytelling.

  3. Yes, a friend was asking me the same thing yesterday so I thought I best clarify. Next month will not be so bad…(thanks also for your reference to my post in your blog!)

    Take care and have a wonderful day


  4. HI Helen, Thanks for sharing these excellent resources, ideas, etc. Impressive!!! I’m so glad you provided the disclaimer, you don’t have children, some holidays thrown in to the month etc! πŸ™‚ However, still impressive! Thanks for the inspiration. πŸ™‚

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