Category Archives: Online Learning

When Student Meets Academic

imagesLast week, I was honoured to be asked to present a workshop at the Australian Catholic University  Learning and Teaching Conference called “Learning for Life 2014”. I co-presented this workshop with Mr Adam Staples, a lecturer at the university. What is interesting is that I am a student, or at least was a student, in one of Adam’s university units in the online environment.

The conference obviously allowed for many memorable moments particularly listening to their keynote speakers Dr Larry Johnson and Dr Panos Vlachopoulos who both inspired the minds of many in the conference room.

But for me, the interesting concept was to listen, as a student, in a room full of people who determine the thinking of the teachers who teach our children. It felt like a big, very accommodating staffroom. These people are educating the teachers in our schools to consider their teaching. When this comment is fully digested, you realise what an important role these people have.

My experience started by meeting Adam for the first time in person even though we have communicated for a year through university studies. This was quite a comical moment as we have both communicated via email, phone and Twitter and suddenly we are face to face. This is the beauty of online learning, i.e. you can know someone and never meet in person.

And the introduction of other academics and staff flowed for the next 24 hours...Dr Donna Gronn, Penny Wheeler, Dr Kristian Lorenzen and many more. From Professors to Doctors in their chosen study area to Directors to learning staff. All people who have extended their own learning and experiences. All these people feel committed to the learning process enough to continually push the boundary of their own learning and experiences.

What then would a student have to offer these educated people, some might ask? The answer is that the student is able to allow them to reflect on the “other side of the fence” and perhaps give an insight into what makes for effective online learning. Adam Staples and myself have had this conversation over the last six months in particular. What has resulted is a desire to extend this question so much to design a theory and framework around it to make the online community of practice or as we have called it an  “e-COP” one where we are able to learn how to teach online and learn how to learn online. Some very exciting “thinking” times ahead!





Filed under Communities of Practice, Learning Environment, Online Learning

What Are Educators Missing?

I grew up in a time where the rows of classroom seats were perfectly aligned. The step platform elevated me to a dusty blackboard. The sun drenched classroom windows were exposed to the elements. The teacher stood out the front, usually on the elevated platform so as to get a clear view of the children in the far back row. I say far because there were usually around 36 – 40 students in the class split into rows of 3-4.


This classroom is familiar to many  teachers and for some this is still the method of teaching. Very much teacher centred. But before I throw this scenario  out the window, Continue reading

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Filed under Classroom Designs, Confidence, Curriculum, Gilly Salmon, Internet, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces, Online Learning

Kindling a Flame

imagesAfter finishing a university unit and reading the evaluations of other students, I started to mentally digest what makes one unit more effective, enjoyable, rewarding and productive than another. After all, I am in the position of student at the moment as opposed to my usual position as teacher.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

The thoughts of my fellow students have had my mind working overtime as I tried to “steal” some teaching and implementation skills from the unit. Each evaluation I read seemed to repeat many common statements.I found this fascinating as this was not a group to rely on others to think for them, this was a well thought and informed group. Why then the many similarities?

The unit itself was online but regardless of the different formats ie my classroom face to face teaching as opposed to online, I realised that there are many elements I could borrow from this unit:

These elements as I understood, defined and summarised are as follows: Continue reading


Filed under face to face learning, Learning Environment, Online Learning

I Think You Nailed it, Gilly Salmon!

ID-100167452It is now twelve weeks since I first turned my computer on to a learning environment called “Online Learning”, a small defining component of e-learning. An environment that couldn’t be further from my original studies at University back in the late eighties where I spent twenty minutes trying to find somewhere to park, racing to my lecture or tutorial only to find “the good seats” all gone, and then realising how hungry I was and should have had a pit stop at the cafeteria before this two hour avalanche of information.

I have to confess that online learning was nothing as I had expected. I thought online learning was about logging in, getting my learning readings, “go home” ( i.e. debark from the signing on of the unit) , do some activities and email an assignment through to someone unknown called my lecturer. Feeling extremely naive now.

Perhaps it is the term we use…”Online learning”. Is it deceiving? There are no words in this title of interaction, collaboration and group experiences. They are two very isolated words that suggest, to me, that we are signing in and out of an environment as individuals floating in a “pool of other onliners”.

So, what are my thoughts now.?  Having been introduced to the theories in Gilly Salmon’s “e-Moderating: The Key To Teaching and Learning Online” I even still questioned reaching what she called Stage 5 where “Participants are essentially using a constructivist’s approach to learning.” (Salmon, 2011)…no way, this is not going to happen in 12 weeks, surely??? How could I possibly engage in a university unit whereby the students are helping themselves and others without the full, visual, interactive support of a lecturer? To be identified as “Communities of Practice”. What a ridiculous expectation to ask…wrong again, I was!

It is now Week 12, and yes, our lecturer is “lurking”, some would rather say “quietly encouraging yet enabling presence” (Staples, 2013) , but the learning I am getting from other “uni students” is phenomenal, supportive, scaffolding, constructive and emotional.

Do I believe every online learning will be like this…not in a second! But do I believe, and now know, that it can be like this…absolutely. Oh, the doors it opens….

Enough blogging, time to go re-enrol in another unit, or two, or three…online, of course!


Filed under BLOG WRITING, BLOGGING, Communities of Practice, Gilly Salmon, Online Learning