Article 7: Critical and analytical reflections about online learning

Face reflection on mirror of beautiful pensive woman

I have found the online learning journey to be a challenging, yet insightful experience. I have needed to focus on learning the content of the unit, learning about new technologies and platforms, along with practicing my new found knowledge and skills within the classroom.

What I find the biggest challenge is trying to make connections between the traditional classroom space and the online learning space. I need to take what I already know as my strengths and weaknesses of the traditional learning space, and transpose this to be beneficial in the online learning space. Reading through Salmon’s ‘Five Stage Model’ I can see the process that we the learners are making to simultaneously learn to learn within the online space, and understand the content of the unit (Salmon, 2011).

As a pre-service teacher I see the importance of technology as a teaching tool, as this is the way of future classrooms. Therefore, I understand that I must regularly update my knowledge and skills through participating with fellow teachers in a CoP, as well as professional development in digital classroom technologies, software and platforms such as Google Classroom, Twitter and EdChat.

The experience of learning online has made me more aware of the importance of self-efficacy, motivation, and self-reflection as a pre-service teacher, and I have connected with the ideas and reflected on my own personal learning approach and inherent nature. I have challenged with my own levels of motivation as I continue this journey with my studies, however I find strength in determination and reflection of where I am at as a student, and where I want to be as a teacher.

References:

Salmon, G. (2011). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online (3rd ed.) (pp.31-59). London: Routledge.

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Article 6: The classroom and beyond

children learning outside

There is great emphasis placed on the importance of creating a dynamic, flexible and thought provoking classroom, and one that caters to all students needs. Teachers need to think critically and reflectively about the learning spaces they provide to students; is the classroom welcoming? Does it represent the curriculum? What are the children’s preferences how do the children perceive both the indoor and outdoor spaces? These are all questions that teachers and schools should be asking themselves.

Particular modes of experience, such as sensorimotor, tactile, visual and conceptual, help us as teachers to better understand how children interpret, respond to and feel about the spaces where they spend time learning and playing (Tuan,1977). I agree that it is important for teachers to ask children about what they want in their indoor and outdoor learning spaces. This allows for children’s voices to be heard, as well as their individual perspectives and preferences for materials, equipment, experiences and needs to be met. Clark and Moss’ (2001) ‘Mosaic Approach’ draws on children’s perspectives and observations as a way of informing teachers of their wants and needs as students in a learning space. This approach both engages and empowers children to be active and capable members of their own learning environments.

Research has found that ‘outdoor experiences improve academic performance, physical activity levels, social interactions as well as emotional wellbeing’ (Merewether, 2015). In my experience as a pre-service teacher, I agree that children have a natural preference for outdoor environments. I also agree that the equipment, materials and experiences that we provide to children outdoors must cater to their individual needs, be open-ended, facilitate challenge as well as social engagement (Merewether, 2015).

References:

Clark, A., & Moss, P. (2001). Listening to young children: The Mosaic approach. London: National Children’s Bureau.

Merewether, J. (2015). Young children’s perspectives of outdoor learning spaces: What matters? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 40, No.1, pp.99-108.

Tuan, Y. (1977). Space and Place: The perspective of experience. Minnesota: The University of Minnesota Press.

Article 5: The group, collaborative and cooperative learning space

digital learning space

Group, collaborative and cooperative learning experiences have been made an important aspect of the modern classroom, and are found to be a ‘practical alternative’ to traditional teaching practices (Slavin, 2010). Research shows that cooperative learning proves to be beneficial for students, such as an increase in higher order learning and thinking skills, team focus and rewards, preparation for ‘real world’ collaborative group experiences, such as diversity and inclusive partnerships, accountability for the individual and equal opportunities for success for each student (Slavin, 2010). Teachers also benefit from co-operative learning in the classroom as it creates an opportunity for an alternative to grouping children based on ability, remediation or special education (Salvin, 2010).

I feel that it is important that group, collaborative and cooperative learning spaces are ones in which students are actively engaging in the work as a group, and also have a sense of responsibility for the learning of the group, as well as their own. There can be challenges that arise within these learning experiences, as some students may take more responsibility than others, resulting in an imbalance of work-load, as well as minimal interactions and contributions.

Teachers may also find challenges along the way, such as providing the right environment for group work, setting student expectations on outcomes and behavior. Teachers must consider the layout of the learning space, as well as creating groups that cater to students needs, as well as aim to extend student’s higher order thinking skills.

References:

Does ‘group work’ work?: Is it the best way for children to learn? [Video file]. (2010, February 18). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdt-b4yMp-M

 

Slavin, R.E. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? Educational Research and Innovation, 161-178. DOI: 10.1787/9789264086487-9-en

Article 4: The liminal learning space

liminal learning space

Reading about the ‘Liminal’ learning space has been a very insightful, retrospective and enlightening experience. Meyer, Land & Baillie (2010) describes threshold concepts and transformational learning to help readers understand the liminal. It is described as a journey, one where we ‘pass through’ a threshold or ‘portal’, leaving behind a familiar space. We then move over to a new space of uncertainty, from which a new perspective opens up, and allows things to come into view, creating new learning (Land et al, 2010).

I can see strengths and challenges of the liminal learning space, for both teachers and students. Teachers may find the concept of the liminal learning space quite challenging to perceive. However, after reading these articles I have found that visualization of ‘passing through a portal’ (Land, et al) has been a helpful tool when conceptualizing threshold concepts and transformational learning. As for students, the idea of change can be a very scary and confusing process, and one that can happen almost instantly or over time. However, once achieved students can feel exhilarated, motivated and more confident in their learning.

Experiencing the powers of the liminal space, has been a transformational and scary process, and in hindsight it is these experiences that have given me strength and motivation to learn more about myself as a pre-service teacher.

References:

Baillie, C., Land, R. and Meyer, J. (2010). Threshold concepts and transformational learning. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Article 3: The Digital learning space

Study Studying Learn Learning Classroom Internet Concept

Thornburg’s (2014) article insights the different benefits and challenges that educational technologies can bring to the classroom. I agree that there are many important factors to consider when choosing the right technology for the learning environment. Thornburg advises teachers to first ask themselves questions such as ‘what is the educational objective’, and ‘what software meets that objective’. I agree with Thornburg for reasoning behind this question and process, as these technology tools are costly, so schools need to choose the right technology with the greatest longevity in order to get as much out of them as possible. Another reason is that time in the classroom is precious, and therefore teachers and students must use the technology wisely (Thornburg, 2014).

A very popular classroom technology tool in 2018 is Google Classroom. Harrell (2017) provides beneficial insight on the future of our classrooms and it begins with Google Classroom. Google itself has changed the way that we as people, educators and students access information, organise, and create. Harrell, a teacher, describes his own use with this technology in the classroom, and discusses its benefits. Suggesting that Google Classroom can help students to be more collaborative, creative, use critical thinking skills, as well as self-manage their own studies and communicate with their peers (Harrell, 2017).

References:

Harrell, D. (2017). Beyond Surfing: Google Classroom. Education Digest, 82(7), 32-35. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=00c5f48a-a36c-4f57-b070-ac54ea396513%40sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=121177460&db=eue

Thornburg, D.D. (2014). Ed tech: what’s the use? The history of educational technology is a   reminder that it’s not the machine that matters- it’s finding the tool that best serves your educational objective. T H E Journal [Technological Horizons in Education], 41(6), 27+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=acuni&id=GALE%7CA381286423&v=2.1&it=r&sid=AONE&asid=13ea5230

Article 2: The Personal learning space

person on mountain

McDevitt (2006) defines motivation as either an intrinsic or extrinsic, and ‘energises, directs and sustains behaviour’. I think it is important for students to learn how to practice self-direction, where learners are taking responsibility of their own inquiry, planning, managing, and evaluating their own learning experiences (Smith, 1996). There may be challenges for some students who may not have any experience in self-directed learning skills, and could lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and often failure (Smith, 1996).

I agree with Cherry (2018) as she highlights the importance of self-efficacy when it comes to an individual’s pursuit of goals; ‘what goals we choose to pursue, how we go about accomplishing those goals, and how we reflect on our performance’ (Cherry, 2018). It is important for educators to teach students to celebrate their successes in learning, observe peer modelling, give positive feedback and practice self-awareness (Bandura, 1977). In relation to this idea of self-awareness, there is also a strong drive for educators to practice and teach their students how to reflect and think more ‘abstractly’ on their own learning and teaching patterns, processes, connections and progress (Pappas, 2010). This is something that I am mindfully practicing in different areas of my life, such as my studies, relationships, health and wellbeing, as I am learning about how beneficial it can be.

References:

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioural change.         Psychological Review (84), pp.191-215

Cherry, K. (2018) Self- efficacy: Why believing in yourself matters. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-efficacy-2795954

McDevitt, T.M, & Ormond, J.E. (2006). Child development, educating and working with children and adolescents (2nd ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.

Pappas, P. (2010). The Reflective Student: A taxonomy of reflection (Part 2). Retrieved from https://peterpappas.com/2010/01/reflective-student-taxonomy-reflection-.html

Smith, M. (1996). Self-direction in learning. Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/self-direction-in-learning/

Article 1: Learning to Learn Online

learning to learn online

Reading through Smith’s (2003/2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, I can reflect on times in my life when learning a repertoire of skills and knowledge occurred through ‘a shared domain of interest’ within a community of learners. In relation to the three characteristics of communities of practice, there are a number of strengths that propel one another, as well as distinguish a community of practice from other groups and communities (Wenger, 2007). These include the domain, which has an identity that is defined by the shared interest and commitment to the learning; the community, which includes the relationships formed in the ‘mutual engagement of the participant’s pursuit of interests (Wenger, 2007); and the practice, which is the shared ‘repertoire of resources’ that develops over time through the participant’s collective engagement in the learning (Wenger, 2007). Therefore, participants ultimately ‘learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’ (Smith, 2003/2009) as a collective community, practicing, doing, talking and sharing ideas together.

Salmon (2011) suggests that when learning online, we the participants, move from the “known” and onto “the unknown”. For me, the “known” learning space is the traditional and more familiar classroom learning environment, and the “unknown” is learning to learn in the online environment.

References:

Article 1:

Salmon, G. (2011). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online (3rd ed.) (pp.31-59). London: Routledge.

Smith, M. (2003). Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice. Retrieved online from http://infed.org/mobi/jean-lave-etienne-wenger-and-communities-of-practice/