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).

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 experience 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

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

Did someone say “PLN”?

As educators today, it is important that we embrace the possibilities that the internet (and Web 2.0) provides in the form of instant, global communication with others who share our interests, challenges and passions. A blog can be a useful and effective means of building your own Personal Learning Network (or PLN), and one of the biggest advantages is that you can expand your network far beyond your school and local community.

PLN’s have changed significantly over the past few decades, primarily due to the improvements in global communication via the online learning space and the creation and development of supportive “communities” of professionals, sharing their triumphs and challenges with one another. (Hoskins Sakamoto, 2012).

A blog is simply a way of defining an online form of communication, much like an online diary or journal (Saddington, 2010). However, a blog invites participation from others in the form of comments and/or feedback to your thoughts. It is through a blogs’ interactive nature that we as educators have opportunities to share our thoughts, achievements or challenges and receive support or advice from peers, novices and experts worldwide.

The idea of connecting, sometimes seemingly instantly, with other professionals in my field is exciting. Learning the ropes of a new process (i.e. a blog) can prove to be challenging, but worthwhile. I do wonder where this blog will go? How far outside of my local community can I reach to expand my knowledge and skills? There are also other ways in addition to blogs to utilise the online environment to build your own PLN, such as social media (e.g. FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube etc).

Running your own blog isn’t necessary for building your own PLN. However, don’t underestimate what you may be able to gain from all of the online tools available to you as an educator. After all, we are aiming to teach our students how to become competent adults for the future, aren’t we?

tomorrow, the world

Happy teaching!

References

Hoskins Sakamoto, B. (2012). What is a PLN, anyway? Retrieved August 7, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.teachingvillage.org/2012/01/03/what-is-a-pln-anyway/

Saddington, J. (2010). What is a Blog? What is a Blogger? What is Blogging?. Retrieved August 4, 2015. Retrieved from http://john.do/?s=what+is+a+blog

Image. (2015). Retrieved on August 7, 2015. Retrieved from www.buzzquotes.com

What is a blog and why do I need to know about them?

The word “blog” comes from the words “web – log”, and it is a way of creating an online diary or journal. The benefit of sharing this online (with the world) is that others can not only read what you share, but they have the ability to interact and respond as well (a feature of Web 2.0).

Blogs have not been something I have traditionally followed, but I am quickly realising that nowadays a blog has the ability to connect me with professionals from all corners of the globe who may avoid me trying to “reinvent the wheel” when I am faced with challenges or seeking support as an educator. The creation of a blog is challenging for a newcomer (such as myself!), but I am excited to see where I can take it…..or perhaps, where it can take me!

Happy teaching!

References

Saddington, J. (2010). What is a Blog? What is a Blogger? What is Blogging? Retrieved on August 7, 2015. Retrieved from http://john.do/blog-blogger-blogging/