#ONL152 has come and gone……but has it really? I would like to think not as the course has certainly changed my perception of online and digital learning and teaching. What I have learnt through the online interaction has led to much contemplation and inner searching in regards to my learning and teaching philosophy and approach. Lifelong learning has become firmly entrenched in my plans for the future of my learning and teaching. If I have learnt anything from the #ONL journey is that there is always something new, a different way of thinking, don’t be afraid to be experiment, challenge and try out the unknown. Whether one is successful or not with the new ideas and challenges so long as you learn something which can be taken back to the student to improve learning then we have been successful.
My final blog for the #ONL152 has been much delayed as I had the great privilege of experiencing a road trip from my home town of Howick to Cape Town (South Africa). A journey of +3,500 kilometres. What was the purpose? Firstly my daughter and I visited various tertiary educational institutions to get a physical and emotional feel for the various tertiary institutions as she is facing the choices available to her for 2017. The decisions regarding the choices of tertiary institutions and the direction of study has been debated long into the night and on the journey. So why did we do the road trip vs online? And secondly to enjoy a mother daughter vacation. Both instances were highly successful.
The online space and information is prolific and tends to be very confusing as there is perhaps an overwhelming amount of information to sort through and process. This information often requires the good old fashion conversation between individuals. Therefore we undertook the journey as there was no interaction other than via website and email. Even telephone calls didn’t happen. And in this whole research which my daughter and I undertook none of the institutions had the facility to “hangout”, skype or any of the other face to face online interactions.
Having done the whole look and feel on the website, we looked and felt physically in the various tertiary institutions. Worlds apart from the online to the actual. One institution in particular stood out for personal interaction, advice and personal appeal and I am very happy to report that it was our very own Varsity College (Cape Town (Anon., 2015)). Second was Stellenbosch University (Anon., 2015). So what made them stand out to all the other institutions we visited? Personal face to face conversations where the dynamic of the individual student (my daughter) was taken into account.
During the +3,500 kilometres we travelled I had the time to think, reason and argue in my own mind regarding the way ahead for me and my own personal teaching and learning added to the knowledge that I had gleaned from #ONL152. The old ways of teaching and learning definitely need to be changed, adapted and moved into the digital era of learning and teaching. BUT there has to be a “grey” area in our digital move. I watched a You Tube clip entitled “New World of Work vs Old World of Work” regarding the use of technology and way of conducting meetings – which is very similar to conducting lectures. The video discussed face to face being preferable in the Old World of Work. New way of work has allowed information to be instantly available in the palm of one’s hand. The way in which we worked in the past worked and was effective and efficient, but it doesn’t work in a global technological world. We need to take the best of the past and refit it for the future to make the world of work/teaching work today. (Global, 2015). This brings me back to my road trip with my daughter. How do we integrate how we educated in the past with how students require education today to make them fit the world of work without losing the personal contact? Students no longer need to retail volumes of information – this is instantly available. In the past these volumes of information needed to be reproduced in order to pass exams which tested how much information had been retained. This is changing and has changed. Now students need to access information (not retain) and use this information to problem solve. What did #ONL152 reveal to us? How to access information, try new ideas and ways of thinking and apply it to our learning…..and yes we did learn.
One of Elvin Toffler’s famous quotations – “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. (Good Reads, n.d.) This is so true of today’s educational system and the world of work. We can no longer continue doing what we did before because it worked then, but does not necessarily work now. What we did needs be adapted, changed, moulded and continuously so. An exciting era to be in with the amount of information that is available to us.
However in all of this we need to be cognisant of the fact that we have inordinately large amounts of information at hand – we need to be selective of what we want to learn, how we learn it and how we use it. If we don’t we become totally overwhelmed and will lose focus and in the process become derailed and demotivated.
The other question which plagued my mind during the road trip was who is the student and who is the teacher in today’s educational and work environments? Another grey area as we are all students in some way, because we have to continue the lifelong learning process in order to be of benefit to society and the younger generation who cross our paths for various reasons. I would have preferred the use of a map and track my journey on a large piece of paper with a coloured pen. My daughter used the GPS available on our smart phones – I have to admit that the GPS route was a lot more successful that the old fashioned map method. Sadly though my daughter has absolutely no ability to read a map. Perhaps a gap in the digital education?
A quotation that is 2,015 years old and has had great impact on me from an educational perspective: “A student is not greater than the teacher. But the student who works hard will become like the teacher” (Anon., 1996) With no religious connotations intended, we as students cannot be greater than the teacher, as who is the teacher in today’s world? We all are and thankfully we have vast resources available to us through the digital world. Therefore if we work hard at learning we can all become teachers and lead by example.
Building communities of learning and sharing will enhance our journey and that of our students. (Tannhäuser, 2015) Without sharing and conversation, whether personally face to face or digitally we will continue to think in our own little silo’s of knowledge. We have to move into the digital conversation which can be so successful across thousands of miles and build relationships with other human being although we will never personally meet. This is possible and was proven during our #ONL152 course. I wish to thank each and every member of Group 7 and the #ONL152 greater community for a wonderful “road trip” of a different kind. I came into the group not as a academic but as a student. I do not profess to an ability to use academic terminology or to write as an academic. I don’t have an ability to create, devise and develop academic material. I do have the ability to use the tools at hand, to understand the needs and wants of both academia and learners. Something which I will be putting to use in 2016 and going forward.
A great man who had made a profound impact on our beautiful South Africa – Mandela – a picture of myself standing in front a mural in Cape Town South Africa
Anon., 1996. Holy Bible. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Anon., 2015. Stellenbosch University. [Online]
Available at: http://www.sun.ac.za/english
Anon., 2015. Varsity College Cape Town. [Online]
Available at: https://www.varsitycollege.co.za/cape-town.aspx
Global, T. T., 2015. You Tube – Old World of Work vs New World of Work. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=462beuKLJig&inf_contact_key=75dae97341fd44cf8fc7041010a20e239d898f2e7b8992511d4559585972b21e
[Accessed December 2015].
Good Reads, n.d. GoodReads. [Online]
Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3030.Alvin_Toffler
[Accessed December 2015].
Tannhäuser, A.-C., 2015. Discuss-Community. [Online]
Available at: http://www.discuss-community.eu/building-communities-of-practice-3/item/234-webinar-virtual-communities-of-practice-for-lifelong-learning-approaches-success-stories-and-challenges.html