I’ve received feedback from my tutor and she’s given permission for it to be posted on this blog so I’ve included part of it here:
“……….My starting hypothesis would be that those who work in an online environment would be a self-selecting group of fairly self-sufficient individuals, in which case there might not be a lot of chatter in the system. There is, I think, some danger that the success of the environment is judged by the volume of chatter, which I think would be a mistake. There’s also a thing about work process, and the extent people want to share their deliberations. Not everyone is the same. In our group, there are people who email me directly; and there are others who prefer the Discussion Board. And these things will vary according to contingent factors. Work pressures will mean that some people will prioritise the Discussion Board over responding to individual emails; and others will do the opposite; and yet others will do one thing some of the time and the other at different times, in a rhythm that is difficult to predict. An online environment can’t be successful if it imposes a work pattern………. Anne”
In considering Anne’s response, I’ve tried to analyse the online environment created through the use of our class blog, individual blogs and wikispaces. I need to respond in ‘bite sized pieces’, though (because there’s a lot to digest!) so it may take a few posts to respond to all the points.
This post includes my first thoughts about just a bit of the feedback:
I agree totally with Anne’s interpretation of our adult use of the Blackboard learning environment for the Chartered Teacher course at University of Paisley. I’ve never felt comfortable using the Discussion Boards (even after 4 years of studying in that environment) but have always been an ‘enthusiastic lurker’!
In the past, I’ve had to force myself to participate just to be seen to be a part of the community. I’m not sure why it’s always been a poblem for me …….. and why is that I’m perfectly comfortable posting to our class blog (surely posting to the WWW should be more scary than posting in a much more private Blackboard setting)?
Although I’m comfortable enough posting to the class blog, it has taken me a long time to feel even remotely comfortable with the idea of having my own personal blog. However, here I am – and it’s ‘my own space’ (and personalising the blog with my own Header seemed important).
I think that the notion of a ‘personal space’ is also very important to children. Last year our class won a local ICT competition. At the time, Ewan McIntosh posted a response on his blog which included our ‘winning formula’ for providing a successful blogging platform for the pupils. He mentioned that the environment had to be:
- easy to use
- part of a community (the Falkirk school have created several individual pupil blogs which are all interconnected with each other, as well as connected with students and schools outside Scotland)
- personalisable (this means really personalisable – the kids have control of every detail on the page to make their site feel like theirs, not some centralised silo-ed academic project).”
I think that I’ve continued to allow the children in this session’s class build their own personal space so that chatter, informal learning and formal learning can co-exist, and that I’ve resisted imposing a ‘work pattern’?
I think that Anna’s blog is a particularly good example of this?
A Critical Friend response would be just great at this point 🙂 ……… and a big THANK YOU to Kim for agreeing to being my online critical friend! I’d really appreciate any comments 🙂
The notion of work patterns seems to correlate to the traditional classroom’s ‘routines’. If an online community is going to be successful people always need a reason to go back to it. This is where routines and regular ‘special events’ help people have that kick into action in those parts of the course where motivation begins to flag. Is this what your tutor means?
Hi Ewan- Thanks for commenting – much appreciated!
Here’s a recent post of mine on Blackboard addressed to my Tutor :
“Hi Anne …….Jackie replied to my email. She wrote:
………….. I like the way you are letting the children drive the use of the blogs, that is so important if they are going to be successful…………
Is this what you meant in your feedback when you said that, “..an online environment can’t be successful if it imposes a work pattern…”? ” ……..
It appears that we both took a different meaning from Anne’s reference to ‘work patterns’? I’ll get in touch and ask for more info … after tomorrow’s very late Parent Night evening is over!
Meanwhile, if you have any relevant research links, please share 🙂
Ewan … here’s Anne’s reply.
“Hi, and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. What I meant was merely that you’ll all have slightly different agendas, and want to use the blackboard environment in different ways. It’s important to use it in a way that suits you — very banal, I’m afraid! Jackie’s point is really what I meant, namely that the users have to drive the environment. Moreover, I think that peripheral participation is legitimate. Jackie sounds like a good source.”
Thanks, Anne 🙂
…. I’m interested in Ewan’s notion that ‘special events’ should be provided to motivate pupils to return to the ‘online environment’ – I’d thought of taking a ‘back seat’ now that the class have their own spaces and just watch to see what happens?