The highs and lows of online learning Voicethread

My first comment relayed my feelings of being excited, overwhelmed and frustrated during my online learning journey.

Coach Carole empathised with my feelings of being overwhelmed and commented to let that be a lesson to 'keep it simple' when training/teaching online.

Sarah was interested in understanding more about the amount of information that we deal with throughout the course and expressed her concerns about this, as it may be a reason that some participants drop out. Sarah asked our advice on what she could omit from the course to allow participants to learn what they need but without overwhelming and still engaging them. Sarah also asked how Voicethread could be used to 'continue' a discussion ie.keep the conversation going. [This is something I tried to investigate with my next Voicethread 'How can you use Voicethread?']

See below my extended response, or you can listen to the Voicethread [http://voicethread.com/share/1423218/]

Karen H commented on Sarah's question about what could be omitted, her suggestion was to break the course into 2 'levels' A key part of learning that Karen is taking from the course is Sarah's skill in keeping the conversation going by "asking questions to dwell a little deeper".

Jane commented on the many tools that we are exposed to and the glee, excitement and frustration she experienced in using them. She recognised that part of her satisfaction from the course was because she is very comfortable online and the fact that she has had the time to dedicate to this course.

 Kim’s extened response to Sarah’s initial comment...

I have been thinking about your questions/concerns about the volume of information in FO2010. I have recorded most of this in another comment on the Highs and lows of online learning Voicethread so you can listen to it, which might be easier as there looks to be a lot of text but no real answers for how to fix the volume of info.

Tools

The plethora of tools that we have been introduced to throughout the course has been sometimes overwhelming yet I believe very neccessary in allowing us to play with what is available to us as online facilitators.

I don't feel there is any pressure to have to use or become expert with the tools, which in itself has been part of the joy of the course. The course is guided yet completely up to the individual as to how much they put in (and as a result get out).

I know that I missed the week that we used Skype and as a result I am not very confident or competent (as yet I have not made a Skype call) but I know that so many people talk about using it as a back up plan resource should their primary platform of communication not work.

Jane mentioned that she believes that Dim dim should be taken out of the course as a tool, due to the difficulties experienced by the group. I must admit that I was only in one of the sessions where Dim Dim did not work and rather than finding this frustrating I thought it was a great example of how the facilitators skillfully referred everyone to the back-up plan which was to use Elluminate. I have enjoyed watching people use a technology that does not work to cue as it illustrates just how 'unpredictable' any technology can be. I watched a great screencast of Nellie using WizIQ but she was unable to load a document, she kept her cool under pressure. If it were me I probably would have redone the recording to 'perfect it' but I think that was the facilitator I used to be. This course has 'shown' me, through the examples of others how I can be humanly imperfect in front of others and teach them something about how things work, and also give a bit of who I am. That is not to say that there have been many egs of people making mistakes but rather that things don't always go to plan...and that's okay!

Time

Jane has commented on Vt that she has had the luxury of having time to dedicate to the course and I too have been in a situation where I have not been working and had the luxury of dedicating time to the course, although I probably could have spent 12 hours a day in front of the PC if I did not have kids to run around after. I have missed many things along the way ie.readings or doing my own research on a topic, but I have been ressured by Sarah's constant encouragement and reminded that I was in this to enjoy the experience and learn something, boy have I done this.

I would have to agree with Jane that this has certainly been one of the best, most valuable and enjoyable learning experiences that I have had. I only wish I was more organised initially and subscribed to all participant's blogs then kept up to speed by regularly cheking Google Reader. Alas I am only just getting the hang of Google Reader which is much easier to manage than numerous emails. Jane suggested a FO2010 follow up course, I think she was referring to splitting FO2010 into 2 seperate courses ie an intro then a more advanced. I really like that idea, I would be up for a follow up course (the thought of which is probably sending shivers down Sarah's spine) if there were one available.

People

The value in the course has been making contacts with the individuals who have taken the course. I know that Sarah reinforced initially that we needed to comment on each others blogs to 'engage' with each other but I fear that I have not done this enough. I know that when I started and saw the list of nearly 100 people that I expected that I would be getting 20 updates a day of blogposts but it appears that many of the initial list of participants have not stuck with the course to completion, in fact I was surprised early on when only maybe 30% of the participant list showed up to the Elluminate sessions. Slowly the group has reduced in numbers but I think people have gone (due to other commitments) and then come back to the course.

 

What to take out of FO2010 course

I am not sure what should be taken out as I have found the learnings very valuable.I liked the way a new tool was added nearly every week around the weekly concepts.

I would suggest to add in the use of Voicethread as a tool for everyone to introduce themselves to the group, that way you can put a face to the name to the voice. I don't know if you have had any specific feedback about the course having too much content and that is the reason that people drop out but I think if you have checked out the course schedule before course commencement you realise what is expected of you.

Perhaps the idea of breaking the course into a first then a second part would be the answer as a shorter intro course might mean that more people complete the first part.