Posted on July 1, 2012 - by JourneyGirl_2012
This past week I found myself in over my head, but not alone with our Week 3 assignment to create a course lesson for the perfect PB&J:
During this week, your three teams will each develop a short “lesson” to teach people how to create the perfect P-B-J sandwich. The catch is that you have to develop this extremely timely and important lesson for an online audience. We will use the wiki for this process. Each team will have their own page in which to develop your lesson and post it by Thursday. Then, you will look at the other two lessons and comment – provide observations, critiques, and suggestions. Finally, again in the wiki between Friday and Sunday, we will discuss our lessons learned. (Dr. Watwood, Course lesson 2012)
It’s amazing how that assignment turned lives upside down over the course of the next seven days. Well, perhaps I cannot speak for everyone, but I do know my life was turned upside down and based on a few of the comments that I read on our class wiki along with a few heart-to-hearts with my fellow teammate, there were some frazzled nerves among our ADLT 640 classmates. For myself, I began to think about PJ&Js in ways I didn’t think was possible. Childhood memories came to mind, senses, tastes, preferences, associations with PB&Js…etc. I discovered that I had warm, fuzzy feelings, for a sandwich that I haven’t thought about on such a personal level except as a fast easy lunch for my daughter, or for myself when I am sick (with Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup). But, how do feelings about a sandwich have any bearing on a class assignment? For my fellow teammates: none. For me: a lot. As we developed our course and began to brainstorm a class activity for our lesson, I advocated poking the senses of our fictitious students while they blogged. Questions for reflection were suggested but not mandatory. I felt that any feelings about the topic/assignment would play a role or contribute to what type of sandwich would be created in the end. I used the argument that the purpose of our pre-assessment survey was to group opposites together wherever possible, so that the teams could learn how to work together with different ideas, opinions, and feelings (there’s that word again) to create something reflective of the “team” and not the individual. That was one of many examples of each of us voicing our opinions, making suggestions, defending our positions, in order to communicate, contribute, and collaborate online as a team. *It is in the friction or “sandpaper moments” that true communication can be born and with that comes true “teamwork” and “community”.
Week 3 of the course lesson was so much more than creating a lesson for “How to make the perfect PB&J.” I feel that one of the learning objectives, among many, in the online portion of ADLT 640 was to help us build communities with each other as students, in addition to giving us an introduction to building, collaborating as future educators, and perhaps, designers of online courses.
In my article for our course library, How to Build and Lead Successful Online Communities: Behaving appropriately, by Nic Laycock I found the subject matter very reflective of what I had experienced first-hand with this assignment. In regards to me and my fellow teammates setting the tone for our behavior and communication, we also had to learn to collaborate; collaboration being key to our success in finishing the assignment by the deadline. If we couldn’t work together we would be dead in the water before we began. We also had to establish our individual roles for this course assignment. If we hadn’t worked that out fairly quickly, I believe the end result would have been a reflection of that confusion.
Here are a few of Nic Laycock’s comments on how communication is essential in addition to respect towards your community members:
“In my own experience there were times when things went wrong in the online communities with which I had been associated. In some cases the cause lay in a failure of leadership, in most a failure to create the right behaviors and support those who were hurt, isolated, and disempowered. Ultimately, some of those communities died.” (May, 2012)
“The impersonal and cryptic nature of some of our online work together with the high-paced life that is now the norm common in business means we run the risk of forgetting such politeness and miss the opportunities to create relationships…”(May, 2012)
Within our team, although we had different voices, opinions, and ideas the trust and respect was always there for each other as we pushed through to create something together. We all adapted and adjusted how we communicated with each other so that we could work together.
From our assigned textbook reading I discovered the terminology in order to describe how I was learning through not only the online portion of this course, but how teaching online was changing and evolving. In chapter 10 of our course textbook, The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, the article by Caplan and Graham, The Development of Online Courses, discusses the change in “learning trends” in how the Internet is used in regards to learning; in addition to the people that use it. (pg. 248)
“In learning, these trends are manifest in what is sometimes called learner-centered or student-centered design….it is the placing of the control of learning itself into the hands of the learner.” (Marzano, 1992)
“What is emerging from the learner-centered approach to online learning is “E-learning 2.0,” the next generation of online learning that is characterized primarily by a shared domain of interest where members interact and learn together,…” (Wenger, 1998)
“In other words, the shift in learning is moving from the didactic teacher-to-learner model to a networked, community-based mode of learner-to-learner.” (pg.249)
I recognized my learner-to-learner experience in my technical growth throughout Week 3. I found myself using software and LMS’s that I wasn’t completely familiar or competent with using. As a group we decided to use Google+ to have “Hangouts” – a tool for online communication (my first time using). The file exchange in our team wiki (using Wiki being another first for me) was also used extensively to share information, suggestions, and final contributions. To describe myself as a novice at using the presentation software, Prezi is putting it mildly. But we were all “fish out of water” in that respect, nevertheless we all learned to use it and make our contributions when needed; learning from each other as we tried to create a “How to” course lesson. E-mail and texting were used; in addition to “ol’ reliable” – the telephone, but only to talk each other through technical hic-cups. Every effort was made to do this assignment from “a distance as a collective” through as many electronic devices, tools, available.
Through this experience I feel that my membership in the ADLT 640 online learning community has opened my eyes even further into what is involved in developing Online courses.