A number of months ago I had enrolled in a Graduate Certificate of Education and was “really looking forward to learning more about how to use ICT more effectively in my classroom, and hopefully a whole lot more!!!” (to quote myself from a blog I posted in January this year)
Seriously ..what was I thinking??
The first dampener on things was when I picked two subjects for the year and enrolled in them, only to find one wasn’t on offer this year, so I would have to change my choices. So I opted to study “Online Learning and Teaching” in Semester 1 and do the core subject “Understanding educational inquiry” in Semester 2.
There are only three subjects listed in the Graduate Certificate of Education, that are in my area of interest, ICT (and obviously my fourth subject would be the core unit). But two of those weren’t on offer this year, and when I asked if they would be on offer next year they said they didn’t know (Why bother listing subjects if you don’t actually offer them??). So I asked what I should do if I couldn’t do my selected subjects, and was told to do an “educational research project” and nominate one of the lecturers interested in ICT as my supervisor . This didn’t really align with my plans, but I thought that I’d just make a start and see what happens…
So I start this course ‘online learning and teaching’ and the lecture notes are all massive blobs of text, which introduce things like wiki’s and podcast’s and blog’s. It talks a bit about what they are and then maybe asks you to reflect on how you think they could be used in the classroom. So firstly I am put off by this “online learning and teaching” class not actually making use of any good technology.
The the assignments are all talking about technology, not using it, not discussing ways they could be used more effectively. There is absolutely no practical aspect to this course. Even the first assignment in which we have to participate in an online discussion forum…we have to answer a particular questions, so you essentially write a mini essay to answer it, with references and post it on the forum. A discussion forum, to me, is about sharing ideas and discussing things. It’s not inspiring to go to a discussion forum and have to read a wall of text, then be assessed on making original, thought-provoking and insightful comments/replies that demonstrate a breadth of reading and knowledge in the area. How does this encourage free flowing conversation around a topic?
The other assignments are all very formal, writing a project brief for an effective education resource that makes use of ICT, back up why it should be done, what will it cost, what is the project timeframe, who are the stakeholders etc etc. But you don’t actually have to learn how to engage with the technology you are discussing!
The last assignment is an essay discussing the use of ICT in your work climate. It is an academic essay. So again you simply yap about technology but never have to engage with it.
I find it so frustrating to spend my time on these assignments and weekly readings when I have not learned a single thing so far! Perhaps I just didn’t have a clear understanding of what I would be learning, or perhaps I was too hopeful about what I would potentially learn that I didn’t stop to think about what it would actually be.
Another aspect that really made it difficult to engage in the uni course, was the Udacity course I started around the same time. The Udacity course was designed brilliantly, it had heaps of short lecture videos for each unit, with quizzes for almost each lecture to gauge learning and understanding. The each week was supported by a number of homework tasks. It was so interactive and interesting. It also made it easy to work through in stages, watch a few videos, do a few quizzes and then take a break. The design of the uni course with all its text to read, meant you had to be prepared to sit and read for a large block of time. Also the interface of the learning environment is ugly..it just doesn’t inspire you to engage with it.
So to enrol in one course about learning and teaching that was presented in an non-interesting manner was very hard to deal with when compared to another course with such an interactive and interesting design.
The only plus that I can see from this class is that it has encouraged a little bit more web browsing and reading of technologies available. So it’s prompted me to a do a little more of my own learning, learning I don’t really get the opportunity to apply to my course of study, but things that I can then take and test out with my class.
So to cut a long story short, I think I will finish this unit (even if I don’t enjoy it and aren’t learning anything, I’d prefer to complete the unit than bomb out halfway), after that, I will ditch uni and will keep on doing what I was doing before and playing with the technology, engaging in it’s use, testing it out with my classes and getting immediate feedback, rather than philosophising about it’s potential.
I might even go back to doing some Udacity courses from time to time, in an area that interests me, that is presented in a way that encourages me to learn and engage with the material.