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.