Can we quickly share our learning journey with others?

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How can the past 18 month learning experience which has been shared with my colleagues be “bottled and served” to others in a short period of time?

That is a desirable thing to do. I but in retrospect, I believe all we can do is attempt to inspire others by celebrating our own small successes. These successful learning experiences have not come without some pain, investment in time, failed attempts, continuous revisions in thinking and seeking and looking to the future for yet better ways to learn, share, interact, create, etc. Perhaps when viewing our experience after 18 months, we metaphorically stand in a garden and look at stone a path surrounded by flowers and vegetation. Ironically, we forget that each stone had to be selected, carried, positioned and sometimes repositioned to arrive at the current state of completion. It just might be that the best we can do is share the image of our gardens and provide others with some stones in the form of tools, technologies, learning theory, pedagogy, etc., in order that they can begin to map and create their own path.

Leading questions to my reflection:

What has changed in me in regard to my own learning over the past 18 months?

What has changed in the way my colleagues and I have collectively learned over the same time period?

What has influenced the changes in my thinking during this period?

How can I guide others to such a rewarding experience in a shorter period of time? Is it possible to provide this opportunity for faculty during a one week workshop? Is it realistic to even believe that I could inspire someone to take such a personal learning journey without overwhelming them?

Stepping stones in my garden:

• Exposure to tools and suggested practices and exploratory discovery of possibilities for their use.

• Exposure to learning theory.

• Participation and completion of an online Masters program which provided meaningful interaction and exchanges of ideas in a virtual environment with people whom I’ve never physically met and who through that process have become respected peers and colleagues. This experience has made me realize how “flat” the world has become and how easy it is to work on a global scale.

• Morning coffee meetings in which personally meaningful thoughts, ideas, and experiences were shared, discussed, challenged and refined.

• A transition from physical meetings to contemplation, writing and sharing ideas with online means (which has ironically led back to the former)

• The discovery and adoption of concept mapping which was so personally relevant to clarifying my ideas that I was compelled to write about my experience lead a discussion about concept mapping, create a class in order to give faculty first-hand experience to concept mapping and exposure to some tools which I found relevant.

• Exploring the idea of screencasting and forcing myself to condense information and ideas to very short overviews. Collaboratively developing screencasts through peer review and critique. Creation of an introductory class in the use of Camtasia to create screencasts for class related use.

• Trust – trust has been developed through the experience of sharing ideas and work with peers who have given valuable feedback which has resulted in allowing me to present ideas more clearly.

• Collaboration – prior to the last year, I worked collaboratively with others, but the level of collaboration and the willingness to take risks and accept change in work which I often take personally is much higher now; the combination of new tools and working environments, such as Wikis, Google Documents, Gliffy, etc., have been central to my current level of openness and almost a sense of adventure in seeing what the wisdom of the group can develop. This has given me insight into the power of group work in the class or learning group environment. It speaks to the opportunities afforded by the current W20, read-write web as a learning space.

• Information overload has hit me in various waves, but the discovery of RSS feeds as a means to subscribe to the writings and ideas of others through blogs and podcasts has helped focus my attention to specific people and groups. These have provided links to other resources, including other writings, recordings, people with whom I might want to share information or ask further questions – i.e., network. This is an area which demands more study on my part to reap yet more benefits and further focus on information which is relevant to my learning and work.

• Delicious initially provided a solution to my ever-changing methods for filing and finding resources – it compliments my own multiple tagging system. However, I have made the transition from a personal filing system to a means of benefiting by the research of others, connecting with people who are interested in similar topics and sharing links with specific people.

• I became aware of social bookmarking and the discovery of others through delicious, but I have since discovered many tools which provide a social connection by which I can become aware of people with whom I can share and discuss information on topics of mutual interest.

• Slideshare and Slidecasting were discovered and originally seen as a means for faculty to repurpose PPT presentations for student use after class. But, on further exploration, these have become a means of soliciting comments of others and provide an opportunity for students to create content which is relevant to other learners. These and many other online tools are now seen through the lens of their read-write capabilities and potential benefits.

• YouTube was discovered as a means to share screencasts. It has opened up a world of resources for various learning and teaching opportunities.

• Jott was discovered through Michele Martin’s blog posting in her Bamboo Project. It was one of those discoveries which immediately sparked ideas for quickly sharing information after a class and has led to experiments with updating blogs, sending e-mail, etc. It has enabled me to capture fleeting thoughts and change the way I think and work.

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