Salmon anyone? My journey of learning online.

“Salmon – more than just a fish”.

I was asked to reflect this week on whereabouts I felt I was within Salmon’s Five Stage model of online learning and I was reminded of the above quote that my lecturer shared from a prior student . For some reason, that made me compare my online learning journey to the challenges faced by the actual fish – fighting against the odds, swimming upstream for miles, ultimately reaching their target (hopefully!).

Perhaps online learning isn’t so different, after all? Students may agree that trying to succeed and thrive in an online learning environment can be very similar to that of the fish fighting for survival. At first, and without support, it can feel very daunting and foreign learning in the online space, particularly when it is not facilitated by someone familiar with the a model such as Salmon’s Five Stage Model (Salmon, 2011, p.31).

As an online student myself, I agree that when a facilitator has not supported me adequately as part of a larger learning group, nor put the strategies in place to foster and transform that group into a learning community, my online learning experiences has been far less enjoyable, felt somewhat solitary and my interactions with others were out of necessity  (i.e. “tick and flick”).

In fact, prior to learning of Salmon’s Five Stage Model, I may have gone so far as to assume that this was what online learning was meant to be – an individual exercise with limited interactions with fellow students.

However, as someone who has now had the benefit of studying online under the Five Stage Model, I can proclaim that I have seen the light!! Not only has my thinking of the online learning space been adjusted, so has my approach to it. I now see not just what I can gain personally, but moreso what I can contribute to the creation of something far more authentic – a Community of Practice (Smith, 2011, n.p.) with my fellow students and the facilitator.

This realisation and the subsequent change in my attitudes and behaviours has helped me progress far quicker through the stages in my current online studies. I have tried to resist the urge to “stalk” in the shadows and instead offer support and contribute –  even if I am afraid of being wrong.

The fear of feeling inadequate in an online space can be heightened, especially if you bravely post your thoughts, feedback or opinions and no response is received. However, the reality is that even by doing this you are still contributing to your own learning, and most likely to that of your peers.

Reflection on how different my current experience is to some that I’ve had before is eye-opening. I feel that I have been eager to dive in and get on with the learning that I know is possible once my fellow members and I become a learning community of our own. I have progressed quickly past Stage (Access and Motivation) and I feel I have tried to incorporate Stages 2, 3 and 4 all together (Online Socialization; Information Exchange; Knowledge Construction) (Salmon, 2011, p.32). I have certainly been motivated to access our online learning environment and eager to get to know my peers. However, as I have done this, I feel I have tried to incorporate more of Stages 3 and 4 than I have in the past. That is, as I am getting to know others, I am sharing information with them where I can (Stage 3) and using their information to help construct knowledge of my own (Stage 4).

It has been an enjoyable journey so far, so I am excited to see what is yet to come and whether I can get all the way upstream, so to speak.

Happy teaching!

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References

Salmon, Gilly (2012). E-Moderating : The Key to Online Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com

Smith. M. (2009). Communities of practice. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm

Image

Salmon, Gilly (2012). E-Moderating : The Key to Online Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com

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