Lifelong Learners

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As an educator, we need to be armed with a hefty toolbox of resources, including our own skills, knowledge, strategies, experiences, behaviours, and opinions. We also need to be able to breed motivation when children seemingly have no desire to learn. We are sometimes challenged to inspire boys and girls with engaging learning opportunities that are relevant to their everyday lives, and we must be able to create welcoming and encouraging learning spaces that are tailored to suit their needs in order for them to take risks with their learning.

Most importantly, I believe we need to instil the belief that learning doesn’t end. To become lifelong learners is something that we all must preach and practise. I feel this is particularly important as an educator as we are the ones fortunate to be involved in the learning experiences of so many children year after year. We lead by example, and for those of my colleagues who have reached the ‘end’ of their most recent learning journey, I implore you to keep the momentum going throughout your professional practise.

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(Longworth & Davies, 1996, p. 22)

Immerse yourself within an inspiring community of professionals and continue to widen your network (virtual and otherwise) as the years progress. Give back to your community and share what you can with others, whether that be encouragement and support right through to your professional advice. Most of all, remember that we are a part of the largest group of professionals on the planet, so you are not alone! You just need to keep moving forward, as both a teacher and a learner.

Happy teaching!

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This post is dedicated to a cohort of educators who are preparing to cross a virtual threshold this evening as they submit their ideas, suggestions, and hopes for future learning spaces. If their experience in discovering the possibilities of learning spaces in education was anything like mine, then the past several months would have been eye-opening, challenging, inspiring, and worthwhile. Good luck to everyone with your future endeavours, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your experience.  

LONGWORTH, NORMAN, and DAVIES, W. KEITH. 1996. Lifelong Learning: New Vision, New Implications, New Roles for People, Organizations, Nations and Communities in the 21st Century. London: Kogan Page.

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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

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