illumination


cc licensed flickr photo shared by khalid almasoud

In the book Educating the Net Generation (2005), Malcolm Brown challenges us to consider learning spaces as encompassing “the full range of places in which learning occurs, from real to virtual, from classroom to chat room.” Having dabbled in a variety of web-based learning opportunities I found it both challenging and exciting to finally be able to break out of the traditional school classroom and enter a new learning space.

Seeking a calm virtual space to contemplate my first Elluminate session in EC&I 831, a University of Regina grad class taught by Alec Couros, I came across this beautiful image and sat down on the virtual bench to think. It occurred to me that much of what I focused on during class consisted of the nuts and bolts of the technology and tools. While technology was the obvious focus, I realized that what really intrigued me were the people. I felt a little like my Grade 10s on their first day in high school. I hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself and I hoped that I would make a good first impression. And, just like that Grade 10 class where some students seemed more comfortable, others preferred to observe their surroundings first. For the record, I was somewhere in the middle – both quietly watching, but occasionally trying out my on-line persona and voice. While it wasn’t a familiar experience it did become a little less awkward. I became aware that the very structure of what I was “doing” (or constructing) mirrored much of what I was studying.

When the session ended, I was surprised how tired I was after 90 minutes in Elluminate. I realized I had been “hyper concentrating” and had been worried that I would miss something if I didn’t pay 110% attention or that I might click on something unintentionally. Hopefully I can relax as I get acclimatized to the nature of a virtual class. I would be interested if anyone else has experienced this same intensity of concentration(?).

I really enjoyed meeting my classmates from many different locales and want to get to know them better. I definitely want to get a better sense of who teaches what where. (Note to self: check out a map of Saskatchewan ). I admit I missed the subtle glances and unspoken messages of a traditional classroom, but it’s highly unlikely I would have met many of the participants in this class otherwise.

Expanding the definition of learning spaces has allowed me to experience new insights and face new challenges. That’s a good thing.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by kiwêhowin.

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8 responses to “illumination

  1. What a great reflection. You’ve captured so eloquently many of the feelings and experienced folks have the first time they participate in this type of learning space.
    It’s different, not necessarily better, not worse. I wrote more about it here if you’re interested:

    http://ideasandthoughts.org/2009/07/31/whats-so-good-about-face-to-face/

    All the best

  2. Welcome back to #eci831 Anne-Marie. You and Dan will have a very unique experience I think as you get to participate in both the f2f and virtual renditions of this course material. I think for this virtual round, the connections will likely become much more clear for you as you can’t simply look around the room and see what the person next to you is working on. Well, you can. But it’s different. Not necessarily better or worse, but different.

    Thanks for taking the challenge again, and I look forward to connecting over the next four months.

  3. I love your integration of CC licensed Flickr images, not as “ornamentation,” but as visual illustration of your thinking processes (i.e., “illumination,” “calm virtual space,” and “expansion”)! Very thoughtful reflection piece!

  4. Welcome to eci831. I will be attending virtually from Massachusetts, US.
    Dennis Richards
    innovation3.wordpress.com

  5. Great post! In my experience, once I become comfortable with a new tool it kind of fades away and I am able to focus on the content/people. I am taking the same class non-credit so I guess I will see you online!

  6. Good morning Anne-Marie,

    I can identify with your feelings. I am a grad student in Saskatoon. This summer I took an online class from the U of A. That was my first time in a totally online class. I needed to go about getting to know my classmates in a different way.

    Next Tuesday I will be joining in with your Elluminate session since I am one of the virtual attendees in your class.

    Have fun,
    Ruth

  7. Hi Anne-Marie!

    I loved your reflection post… so much of what you said struck a resounding chord within myself. I completely understand what you mean by the hyper-concentration thing. My poor 7 year old! She’s going to start thinking her mother has been replaced by a leaky tire every Tuesday night from 7 pm – 9 pm for the next few months with all of the “Shhhh” – ing I’ve been doing! I also found that I needed to wind-down after too.. that it was almost impossible not to start work on something for class right away.. like I had been energized too. I’ve always been the facilitator of online distance courses, never a student of one and this experience most definitely will have implications on my practice. Thanks everyone! You are all incredible teachers and I’m learning so much already from everyone.

  8. I was very much in the same mental state as yourself after meeting with the VLC. I feel overwhelmed and bombarded with an abundance of stimuli. I found that the more information I tried to take in the more my brain began to hurt. I had to pause for a moment and ask myself, what do I want to get out of these interactions? At first that may sound selfish but there are as many reasons why people are in this class as there are ways in which we interact with new knowledge and new learning environments. I think a part of the stress as you pointed out is the comfort level with the learning environment. Once we confirm for ourselves how we want to interact with this media our 2.0 personality will emerge and we may end up being bored with traditional education styles, perhaps both as a learner and facilitator.

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