Why, Why, Why am I mooching about a MOOC?

Why am I doing this MOOC?  How do I personally benefit from trying to improve my professional practice?  If I were to conduct a cost-benefit analysis  would CPD (Continuing Professional Development) be a sound personal or institutional investment?  *Adopts the most sarcastic tone that she can muster* – “I’d be surprised!”

Hmm, that feels better!  I was feeling angry and frustrated at myself for making a personal commitment to this MOOC.  Right at this moment, like every student there has ever been,  I have multiple draws on my time.  In the past two weeks there have been children off school, orthodontist appointments, a New Year’s resolution to commit to physical activity, furniture upheavals and a bathroom cleanliness issue that if not tackled soon may necessitate a visit from the local environmental health officers.  I don’t have time for this.  But then that’s really the nub of the issue when taking personally responsibility for CPD isn’t it?  There never is time.  There is no CPD Fairy waving his magic wand and granting me an extra day to my week and declaring that “This day, dear heart,  is designated as your time.  At your leisure, you can read scholarly articles, you can post erudite comments on relevant forums, you can make meaningful connections in communities of practice and you can tweet thought-provoking tweets. ”

So here we are, we are *making time*.

It’s  Week 2 in First Steps in Learning and Teaching 2014 and the Week 2 Activity is ‘Reflective Writing’.

mirror, mirror

What are my aspirations for this course?

Well, mainly I think they are focussed on:

  • making a bit of time to reflect upon the current state of my professional practice
  • widening my reading
  • putting anything I learn into action (we aim to be evidence informed)

How do I learn best?

By doing.  You can show me how to shelve, cite, answer an enquiry, that’s great.  If you want me to learn to do it independently, let me have a go and be on hand if I have any questions.  However, never  leave me metaphorically or actually alone for too long.  Contact with relevant others is essential.  You never know what wonderful nuggets of knowledge we might absorb from one another. Every now and then check back on me to make sure I’m abreast of any changes in procedures or any paradigm shifts in professional practice.

How have my own learning experiences influenced how I teach?

Whenever I can, I let the students drive.  Oh so tempting as it is on occasion to grab control of the mouse and click through a few screens,  I sit/stand/kneel to one side and talk them through the steps that need to be taken.  In an ideal world there would be an attempt on my part to crow-bar in a few common principles alongside the ‘how do I find this book/article/case study RIGHT NOW?’

What kinds of students have I taught?

Well, I’ve worked in public libraries, the private sector and in academic libraries so my answer would be ‘all sorts of students’.  In terms of Higher Education, having The Open University and Oxford Brookes on my CV means that I have had the privilege to assist adults of all ages and abilities.

What have I discovered from the experience?

1) That I still have loads to learn and that I hope that I continue to learn and adapt throughout my career.

2) Not all students respond to the same techniques and approaches.  I have a tendency to adopt an informal tone and style which doesn’t suit everyone.

What strategies and techniques do you employ to help students learn?

Well, a mainstay technique would be aforementioned  ‘stand to the side whilst you talk the student through’.  In more formal, ‘me-at-the-front-trying-to-impart-an-agreed-learning-agenda’ situations  –  I try to allow plenty of opportunity for questions as we go along and I always try to gather feedback.

Why do I use these strategies and techniques?

I find that the  ‘stand to the side whilst you talk the student through’ technique works because by allowing the student to show you *exactly* what they have done you can pick up where there has been a problem, for example a spelling mistake or step that has been missed.

The questions and feedback thing I use because it helps me to assess some level of group/individual understanding and it helps me to adapt my behaviour accordingly.  Questions allow you to adapt any training as you go along and feedback allows you to adapt future training.

Right, that’s about all the reflection that I have time for today, back to that bathroom.

Happy Week 2 in FSLT14 everyone!

2 thoughts on “Why, Why, Why am I mooching about a MOOC?

  1. Hi Penny
    Thanks for this interesting reflection.
    I think you have highlighted for me one of the key ‘take home’ messages about learning: We learn by doing with the support of others.
    If you were to guess what you want to learn next about this topic what would it be? Which direction are you looking in?
    Interesting that you don’t think an informal tone always works. Can you expand a bit on why?
    When you are in ‘standing at the front mode’, what techniques do you use to encourage questions? What have you found that works best?
    The next step is to think about how these questions and your reflections can be informed by the literature and your colleagues. Brookfield’s lenses are a valuable tool in helping us to understand our practice.
    Best Wishes

    1. Hello Neil, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I’ll use your questions for the basis of my next blog entry, I’ve certainly got plenty to think about!

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