Browse Month by January 2011

Online learning doesn’t have to suck!

There was a very interesting article posted by Mashable yesterday reporting on the use of virtual classrooms in higher education. There is no point in me repeating what it says here – I’ll let you read the full report yourself but it does certainly make for interesting reading. To me there are no surprises because I know how effective virtual classrooms can be used.

When you read the article, although it is primarily looking at higher education in the States, please don’t let this cloud your thinking. When it talks about education – think learning in general. After all, set curricula in higher education can be similar to set courses in organisations.

Here are some key points I took from the article.

  1. Garbage in garbage out to quote the American phrase. It’s not the tool that makes for low-quality online learning, it’s the quality of the design and delivery. If you know how to deliver engaging, learner-centred face to face classroom session, you can, with an open mind and enhanced skills, deliver engaging and learner-centred live online classroom sessions. Just because it’s delivered online doesn’t mean you can make less of an effort – in fact you will need to make more.
  2. Blend the delivery for maximum efficiency by making the best use of resources. For example, observed assessments locally were face to face as well as being assessed over video by the tutor.
  3. The ability to reach more people with minimal extra cost and physical resources. Not to mention being able to overcome travel disruptions such as those we experienced in December just gone.
  4. Encourages self-motivation and collaboration on a wider scale.

The future of learning is using the right set of tools for the job. The key to success is how to use the tool effectively.

A look back on my 2010

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A Happy New Year to one and all. For my first post of 2011 I thought I’d look back on my 2010.

2010 was a year of firsts for me:

1. I started Tweeting
2. I started blogging
3. I got my first iPhone
4. I delivered my first presentation to a room full of strangers

It won’t come as any surprise to you all then to hear what my top tools for 2010 were!

One that has to be near the top of the list is Twitter which has proved to be an invaluable professional development tool. It’s been nearly a year since I began my Twitter journey and I will review my first year at another time.

The others, in no particular order are:

WordPress which I use for my blog
Evernote – very useful for collating my research articles and planning my blog posts
Hootsuite – helps me manage my social media posts
Google calendar – to share with friends and colleagues
Feedly and Google Reader to help collate my blog subscriptions
PowerPoint 2007 (not yet got 2010)

The overall number one tool for me in 2010 though has got to be my iPhone (although other smart phones are available) which has helped me use my beloved Twitter at more convenient times. Snatches in between sessions, waiting for a train, sat in the dentist’s waiting room – always connected. Before my iPhone, it was often inconvenient and frustrating to use Twitter. Although I could access it from my normal mobile phone via text, it was cumbersome and using it on my laptop meant I was probably interrupting some other piece of work I should have been concentrating on.

My smart phone gives me easy access not only to Twitter but to my top tools as listed above and:

    • e-mails (all accounts)
    • my contacts and calendars
    • all blogs I subscribe to
    • my Amazon account
    • video snippets on YouTube
    • podcasts
    • my Skype account
    • a collection of online newspapers
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      my Kindle collection

In fact, I will go as far as to say, my iPhone has become my mobile office.

What are my predictions for top tools in 2011? Well, I’m guessing my new Kindle I had for Christmas might be playing a big part in 2011 for me. My iPhone, of course will still be there as the contract doesn’t come to an end until 2012. It is debatable whether I will stay with the iPhone – but smartphones are here to stay.

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