Thursday, April 12, 2007

"After all is said and done, more is said than done"

I have made mention in some previous posts that I participated in Henley's Virtual Tutor Course (VTC), a certificate which is a prior necessity for anyone active in Henley's virtual learning environment.

Part of the evaluation for this course is to summarise my own thoughts from my Learning Journal, a kind of blog-within-the-course, and Ithought I'd add those here to share.

In Henley workshops I go on so much about the value of sharing of experience that at the start of this course I was genuinely looking forward to experiencing interaction with live fellow learners. I wanted to place myself firmly in a student’s pair of shoes and push every button, pull every knob to get as much out of the experience as possible. If from nothing else, I thought I would learn from doing so. In short, I felt like a participant.

In experiential training, most debriefs revolve around three questions:
What went well?
What got in the way?
Do what differently next time?

Following this pattern now in my own summary, I was pleased to note hat I continued all the way through as a participant. I made time to visit the site very frequently, and that reading the contributions of others sometimes brought forward my own thinking, and occasionally revealed an insight.

The learning journal worked well for me. Reading others’ thoughts was a delight, and knowing that I had an audience for mine was a great help in constructing my entries to make sense.

A few things still feel like they were barriers. They include:

Most of my written contributions were ‘fired from the hip’. Unlike this one (Blogger) the VTC web-site had limited editing facilities and I did not choose to write something in draft elsewhere for revision before posting.

I had the feeling that others varied their input (and, sometimes, their output) over the life of the Course. Because so many of the tasks were simply collaborative activities within the sub-group, this was quite uncomfortable.

Attuning the two roles of participant and facilitator was also difficult, but not impossible. It was more of problem (for me) that every activity was a task.

I reflected more than once during the course on how so many distance learners fail only by failing to finish. A convert now to reflection, the only drawback has been the necessity to stop, or suspend, this in order to complete this assignment!

So finally, after the Virtual Tutor course has been said and done, I find that I want to draw some ‘doer’ conclusions that reflect how I would choose to behave as an e-facilitator (were I to do this again). These are:

Adapt what you know works in a training or classroom (or just with any face-to-face encounter) and apply it online. Good planning is essential

As facilitator, be comfortable enough with the technology of online learning for the learner to forget about it

All learning is blended learning. We need to employ all our senses, and the facilitator needs to tune into the unique way each person learns

Build in a mechanism to ‘tether’ the learner to the course so that they don’t drift away at the end

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