I love new technology (if you hadn’t guessed already) but the traditionalist in my never really disappeared. With my background being in administration with a little librarianship along the way, you can imagine how I loved my paper, my triple copies of everything and my books.
Many years ago (too many than I care to remember) I was issued with a brand new computer thingy to replace my trusty typewriter. I hated it with with a passion but that was probably down to the fact that I was given no instruction on how to use it. [Why is it that just because you can type 80 words a minute without even looking at the keys people assume that you can automatically use a computer?]
Anyway, after I persevered, finally getting to grips with the formatting tags for bold, italics etc (something I never had to bother with on a typewriter) I was a convert. Anything that made my life easier was certainly the top banana for me.
But always at the back of my mind was that little voice of caution. That ‘what if’. We were told that computers would herald the paperless office. [ Hmmm – well certainly not in my experience. In fact it, produced more. It was too easy to rethink and rewrite letters whereas if produced on typewriter they were more careful to get the first draft as perfect as possible.]
My fears were always if we were to keep everything on disk and save valuable office space by reducing the amount of paper to file away, what would happen if we had a power cut? For that reason, I kept everything in hard copy – for years.
As I got to trust technology a little more, I’ve learned to let go of my old administrative ways and little is now printed off and filed in sad looking filing cabinets. I’ve embraced technology to the extent that I would, if I could, have every gadget imaginable (I blame my techie of a husband for nurturing such compulsions). I became quite jealous when Dean got his iPad a few weeks back whereas I have a second hand Galaxy tablet – very nice but nowhere near as responsive. Both devices however, have proved to be very versatile and have allowed us to carry out tasks we would not have otherwise been able to do. More about how the iPad saved the day later.
Although I have the occasional palpitation about how all my eggs seem to be in one basket and what would I do if somehow I couldn’t retrieve them, I quickly dismiss those ugly thoughts.
Until yesterday when we were cut off from the world and the iPad came to the rescue…..
See my next post about how the iPad saved the day.
If you have a little over 1hour and 17 minutes to spare, here is a very interesting debate from late 2009 (but still topical nonetheless) on the whether the VLE (virtual learning environment) is dead and that the PLE (personal learning environment) is the way to go for learning.
I’m going to sit firmly on the fence here. It might get a little uncomfortable at times and I can waver a little but for me certain things come to mind before we force a decision. Perhaps we’ll be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
Do we really know what our VLE can do?
Have we taken enough time to investigate the functionality?
Have we exercised enough creativity in what we could do with it and in it?
Did we forget to ‘be there’ providing that human touch or have we just left our students to their own devices with merely a map to guide them through the maze of content.
Are we going to going to remain within our secret walled garden of the VLE or could we, as Dicken and Mary did in the novel ‘The Secret Garden’, unlock the door enjoy the best of both worlds?
Remember that we can easily create doorways out into the social world and PLEs with the use of links. For instance, one activity within the VLE could be to take a conversation beyond the walled garden and out into a social network where students could share resources more easily, upload photos and videos for comment and discussion and return to the VLE to post a conclusion or analysis of their ‘field trip’. Maybe you’d create a Facebook account for the course or a Twitter account using hashtags for grouping the assignment conversations (after establishing whether your audience can access these of course), the limitations are really only your imagination.
Maybe we need to invest a little more time into these creative ideas and encourage the meeting of these worlds rather than an exclusion of one or the other. It’s not always necessary to make a decision between one or another.