Last 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!