Week 1: Introduction to #ocTEL

Just because I’m a sucker for punishment, I joined another 10 week cMOOC called Octel: The Open Course in Technology.

(Actually, methinks I was on such a high with the Educational Technology MOOC #ETMOOC which recently finished that I just wanted to recreate that ‘buzz’ again).

David Hopkin’s writes more about this course here.

As part of the course learning and sharing, we are given various weekly assignments to complete and in this introductory week, we were required to introduce ourselves to other course participants and answer some questions.

Given that this is my second cMOOC to date (I find the cMOOCs much more interesting than the xMOOCs), I’ve come to expect that something will always will always go wrong but not to get my ‘knickers in a twist’ about it.  This happened when I logged into my email and saw an explosion in my inbox of introductory emails from course participants.

If I didn’t have previous experience with MOOCs, I may have stressed out with this  but it wasn’t the case.  If anything, I’ve come to expect that people are still trialling MOOCs and it’s a matter of being patient.  I can understand to total newbies that they would start to panic and question what they got themselves into.

I wrote about how people can get angry when their expectations are not met with MOOCs here.

Luckily the problem was sorted out immediately and just by changing preferences, my inbox got back to a manageable state.

So here it goes.

Activity 0.1  “Reflecting on your own work experience and ambitions for developing your teaching,  what is the most important question about TEL for you?” 

First things first, ‘teaching’ – not a word I use in the corporate environment (I’ve had arguments with colleagues in Learning and Development over this).

I’m going to change that question to, “reflecting on your work experience and ambitions for professional development, what is the most important question about TEL for you?

Every course I do must have a practical application back to my corporate workplace.  I will lose interest if the content is too theoretical, academic or if it cannot be extended or applied directly in a workplace (or used to solve a business critical issue).  So for me, my Big Question is…

“How do we get employees in our company comfortable with the use of technology so that they can better connect, network and share their expertise to others?”

I’m one of the lucky ones who works for an organisation who is open to new ideas and innovations and where sites are open.  I have access to social media sites, we have an active Yammer community, a Learning Management System and also Sharepoint.

Our people have the tools at their disposal – but what is missing is the actual application – the ‘doing’.

Some people are more comfortable with this technology and who take to it easily, while others struggle.  Sometimes our technology does not help us at all. For example, our LMS is extremely limiting, clunky and really is just a ‘player’ for mandatory compliance content as it doesn’t do much else at all.

My challenge is to be in a position to be able to coach, guide, steer and teach others to be more creative in their use of technology when it comes to their professional development and to use the tools that are there, in front of them already.

If it means getting rid of our LMS, then so be it.

Activity 0.2 Initial Comments and Discussion

Course organisers get us to respond to participants forum posts and comments.  Easy enough. I won’t bore you with the detail but if I come across some gems that can be applied in the workplace, I’ll share them here.

Activity 0.3: Experiment with and/or reflect on different ways of communicating with fellow ocTEL participants.

This is not a new thing for me. The Educational Technology MOOC #ETMOOC taught me that there are many ways to do this via various social media streams.  The big one for me is to focus less on the written word and experiment more with different technologies or tools that can get the key message out.  However, I’ve been blogging for many years (through a personal blog too) and my preference is for writing simply because I can reflect, consider and reconsider my response.

I do enjoy watching short vlogs but I find for me, I can’t get my thoughts in order first and there’s additional pressure when the camera is on.

I’d like to explore the use of more graphical tools so that I can draw my thoughts, ideas, concepts too and incorporate these into my blog.

Activity 0.4: Explore the resources on Technology Enhanced Learning

Once again, ETMOOC put me in the right direction with this because I was introduced to a variety of tools and how people had used these tools in their learning.  Of particular note, I was impressed with the work of Amy Burvall who experimented with various tools and shared her learning with others.

I also follow Ana Cristina Pratas curated site ‘Digital Delights for Learners’ and she finds some real gems that I rescoop and then play around with on weekends.  Some tools I use and apply at work to create various job aids and learning material which always get a positive reaction from our course participants and even my Learning and Development colleagues.

Two particular examples recently where my colleagues saw some job aids I created with the use of Piktochart resulted in all of them ‘piktocharting’ every job aid they could get their hands on (until the free subscription ran out and then they asked me if I knew of any similar – but FREE – sites) and Pulp-O-Mizer introduced to me by Joyce Seitzinger which then started people creating their own posters for a bit of fun.

It really goes to show how attractive colour, fun, visuals are for learning.

It was more reaction to a job aid than I had seen in a long time… it actually made people SMILE, TALK, READ and DO IT.

Activity 0.5 Small Group Reflection

Well I think I’ll be doing this on the Google+ Community and we’ll take it from there. Once again, if any pearls of wisdom come out, I will share them here.

So that’s it for my first week reflections.  I have to read some readings on MOOCs which I believe I have read before but I’ll use these to recap.

Next week:  TEL Concepts and Approaches…

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About Activate Learning Solutions

Helen Blunden is the founder of Activate Learning Solutions and Third Place. She has over 20 years of experience within learning and development across private, public and not-for-profit organisations. With a specialty in performance consulting and networked learning, Helen believes that workplace learning is integral to business success. She has a passion for enabling people to learn beyond the classroom and believes in the power of networks and communities to drive collaboration and meaning within the organisation. From facilitator-led instruction, online and blended, Helen deploys social and informal learning such as enterprise social networking, collaboration tools and emerging technologies that have been proven successful and embedded workplace change.
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10 Responses to Week 1: Introduction to #ocTEL

  1. Pingback: What I Learned In April | Activate Learning Solutions

  2. Pingback: What I Learned In April | Activate Learning Solutions

  3. Thanks David, certainly was. Our workplace is experiencing major changes which is affecting culture and behaviour – and people wondering how this affect their future work. Or if they will have a role in the future. Interesting times ahead.

    All of the initiatives to upskill our fellow L&D team members with these new initiatives have been on a voluntary basis, small scale and continual. I’ve noticed that some of them have their ‘a ha’ moments and then they’re off – you can see a change in how they work and a renewed vigour. Some are still skeptical, others still think that the social media aspect is frivolous and they don;t have time or don’t see the value.

    I still think however, that it’s only a matter of time and I’m really positive about what the future holds for our organisation!

    Thanks for the post and looking forward to this MOOC!

  4. Thanks Helen. It’s always a point of contention in corporate learning and development teams. I’m not a teacher by background. I haven’t come from any academic or educational institution before joining the corporate world and the word ‘teacher’ brings up for me, and the business, some formal classroom based lecture style training. In business, I don’t want to use ‘education’ examples or terms but instead prefer to use ‘performance’ or something more workplace related.

    Many of previous colleagues I have worked with were ex-teachers and came into the corporate L&D space and this shows. We have different views when it comes to learning. I’m more mindful of our perception to business and how we need to be less pedantic on instructional methods and pedagogies (or simply, don’t mention it to clients because they don’t care how we do it but as long as it gets done). I also think that we lack business acumen and talk the language of business. I find working with the business quite refreshing though because they are open to new ideas, innovative techniques and open to the idea of learning at the workplace. However, many times, the arguments I’ve had were with my own L&D colleagues over what we should be doing because some instructional method tells us that we shouldn’t be doing it that way….

    Anyway, not that I’m not having a quality focus – I’m just mindful that as L&D team members have to show their value, we need to talk in business lingo.

    Thanks for the reply. Looking forward to this MOOC!!

  5. Thanks Amy, much appreciated!

  6. Great, thanks. There’s more focus on peer learning coming up in Weeks 7 & 8 — and probably a good deal more practical experience of it before then.

    From you description under 0.4, though, it sounds like your own experience was based on choosing a few peers carefully and then following them closely. Is that right? And is that an approach you could apply and scale up in your workplace?

  7. crumphelen says:

    Hi Helen

    For #ocTEL, I’m yet to commit ‘pen to paper’, so to speak, which is a pretty amazing piece of technology when you come to think of it…. Any way, the point you make about the word ‘teacher’ in the opening question really resonated with me, and I’m not sure if I would have picked it up by myself. There appears to be an assumption in the word: that learning is formal and directed by some knowledgeable other. This word does not work for me. I see myself as a literacies practitioner (digital & traditional). Literacy for me is a person (everyone has literacy), a person doing their job and making sense of their world, and they do this through the tools that they use and the texts that they create and/or consume. I would hate to think that I am teaching, directing on to someone, something standard called literacy. I would like to think that from amongst a multitude of literacies, I am facilitating their literacy in context; this need not happen exclusively in formal contexts, indeed it might be better if it were more overtly explored in informal communities or in workplace contexts. Literacy is a learning technology and it impacts performance.

    …not sure if that’s a reply to your blog post or the start of my Big Question. Thanks any way.
    Helen

  8. amyburvall says:

    Thanks for the lovely shout-out! Great blog refection…good luck on this new MOOC!

  9. Thanks David. Yes capability building for any organisation is a big one and that’s my main aim for doing any of these MOOCs (or any professional development for that matter). I do enjoy learning new things but need to then do something with it and apply it back to the workplace on my business clients problems. I find that many of them don’t really care of the ‘instructional quality’ or the ‘methodologies’ or whether the framework fits with pedagogies – they simply want the skill or performance gap closed. As such, by learning new tools and ways, they are open to anything – and in all cases (in my experience anyway), work together with me and the team to implement it. Tell them that you have some page turning elearn or screen simulation to learn a process OR that you have a 8 hour face-to-face classroom event, is NOT going to cut it – not when they can’t commit people off their desks; customers calling in at all hours; phones ringing red hot and emails to be answered. It’s crazy talk to them.

    One way we are exploring more of is peer-to-peer learning and I’ve written about it in this blog but there’s also another project I’m working on which I cannot say more here (but will do so in near future).

    Another peer to peer learning is where I have shared my knowledge and what I learn to my own colleagues by having PD sessions (one recent example was learning how to use Twitter for PD #lunchlearn101) which have been successful.

    Another is creating a group on Yammer called ‘Connected Workers’ where we could share any tools, learning etc for social learning.

  10. Hi Helen,

    Wow, that’s a lot of work and thinking… I really like your Big Question. It’s different from a lot of the others on the course, possibly partly because of your corporate context, but it’s clear that your thinking beyond specific courses and learning objectives to building more general capacity and capability.

    I wonder if it would be useful to reflect on your own experiences — as described in part under Activity 0.4 — because it seems that you’ve developed a lot of the capability and confidence that you’re seeking to instill in others?

    What elements of your experience do you think are transferable? How could you create the conditions where others might embark on the same journey that you’ve taken? What are the biggest challenges in achieving this?

    all the best from (old) South Wales, David

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