Certain contexts either F2F or online in spite…

Certain contexts either F2F or online, in spite of their differences, may favour connectedness or not.

When we think of democratic schools, we know that group deliberations are a common practice. As the decisions are in the hands of the whole school community, conflicts and rules are decided in general assemblies, discussions are held openly and decisions are taken by vote. Usually these schools are relatively small and everyone knows each other closely. In these schools respect for each other’s opinions and citizenship are in their core principles. So the sense of community and connectedness is very strong.
Summerhill – http://youtu.be/KIyaKWeFhDo

Regarding online learning, I suppose that courses that stimulate discussions, groupwork, peer-review, certainly favour that sense of community. Communities have many different levels of interaction, and an online course of 1 or 2 months, may generate a community that will end in a short time, eventually a few participants may extend their interaction for some common interest.

Another level of connectedness may be fulfilled with communities of practice, which extend collaboration for a long time and may have other longevity. Lave and Wenger developed the concept integrating the three dimensions:
1.Domain – A domain of knowledge creates common ground, inspires members to participate, guides their learning and gives meaning to their actions.
2.Community – The notion of a community creates the social fabric for that learning. A strong community fosters interactions and encourages a willingness to share ideas.
3.Practice – While the domain provides the general area of interest for the community, the practice is the specific focus around which the community develops, shares and maintains its core of knowledge.
Interview with Étiènne Wenger – http://youtu.be/63rQ3S8EHoA

I’ve only parcially watched the videoconferences of this…

I’ve only parcially watched the videoconferences of this week, since they seemed too basic. I’ve read the introductory text of this week and downloaded the two articles «Rapport in Distance Education» (from IRRODL) and «What the best online teachers should do» (from Merlot journal).

From the summary of this week webpage I produced an animation with the main factors to take into account when starting an online course to build rapport with students – http://www.powtoon.com/p/g1DqM825ohd/ .

Teachers that have a psychology background are usually familiar with icebrakers, professional trainiers use them as well. In academic environments and more directive lectures this is not a major concern.

In online learning a «getting start» scene is useful, though with hundreds and thousands of participants it may be difficult to reach some level of personalization.

However, there are ways to keep the «approachability», the weekly newsletter we receive from this MOOC is a good idea. To have direct messages in one’s email is a good strategy.

I remember that in my 1st MOOC, the backup team used to send 2 email messages per week – one in the beginning of the week with a synthesis of the previous week activity and another one, at the end of the week, preparing for the following week. I was very impressed, because it worked, it helped to catch up with what was going on and makes one feel included.

Regarding the modalities of distance learning blended or…

Regarding the modalities of distance learning, blended or e-Learning, I’m an advocate of e-Learning for myself, at this stage of my life. I think that for most professional people who have a traditional job (fixed time and place) the best way to accomodate things is online learning. Access to the Internet has progressed and nowadays a lot more people have that chice. There’s a prevalence of english spoken countries offer of online courses and MOOCs, but in time I believe universities from all countries will join the movement. In Europe an Open Initiative was launched to disseminate MOOCs – http://openuped.eu/ .
The Open University of Portugal has launched his first MOOC on Climate Changes this year and I think it was quite successful – http://openuped.eu/courses/details/1/10

I don’t think that there are magic formulas…

I don’t think that there are magic formulas that may apply to online teaching-learning. I believe that it depends on the context and target public.
As I deal with adult and professional people (teachers), they are peers with whom I exchange ideas and share whatever I find of interest to them in the scope of my Moodle community. In a situation of training I like very open and free approaches, giving room for choice. I think that an outline of the course is important and some kind of organization intelligible for everyone. The best way to learn is to discuss and produce, so activities are important to put «hands-on», to create, to synthetise, to have critical views.
I have engaged in some MOOCs and they all were/are different. I like diversity. I’ve engaged more deeply in some for circumstancial reasons, but I’ve enrolled in each one of them because I was motivated by the themes addressed. Contents are no longer so important since we have access to a lot of information in the Internet, but discussion and exchange with peers from all over the world and the opportunity to share one’s own experiences is enriching. The production of artifacts is also important to me, to experiment new tools and organize ideas.

There’s a video of RSA with one of…

There’s a video of RSA with one of Ken Robinson’s conference in this MOOC. He’s an inspiring speaker and a critical voice of traditional schooling. I read his book «Out of our Minds»(2011), and the report «All our Futures» (1999) and watched practically all conferences and public interventions available on Youtube. I would like to recommend a short biographic clip (probably not so well known), quite touching and inspiring – http://youtu.be/lpiI0WIo6Io.
Do you know Blue School? He’s an advisor of this NY school founded by Blue Men Group, this video is from 2008 – http://youtu.be/bTM8y1CdHbo
Blue Men Group produce very creative shows (just one of the many videos) – http://youtu.be/XQZVd76ShrM

One of the issues raised for reflection in…

One of the issues raised for reflection in this week’s activity was to describe a best teacher and a worst teacher ever. And when I think of school of my infancy and adolescence this brings no good memories.
University was an adult experience and something of my choice, so a different reality.
I’m a senior and my times of school go back to fascist times. I was a regular pupil, not at all problematic, but my emotions towards school are those of being imprisoned. My comfort zone was home.
I remember some of the teachers but I don’t regard any of them as mentors or model people that I particularly respected.
The interaction resumed to listen and be quiet. Speak when you are called – the 19th century authoritarian school.
At the time, genders were separate – schools for girls and schools for boys. No contact allowed. I had a friendly relationship with schoolfellows but didn’t kept contact with any of them aftering school.
As you can imagine, I didn’t like school. It was a repressive institution, and though I was not a rebellious girl I had a strong sense of injustice.
The education system, at the time, had primary schools separate from other levels and types of schools, with two main branches: (i) liceum and (ii) technical schools (commercial/industrial), which were linked t class strata.
In Portugal, we were much influenced by the French system and culture. After leaving the primary school with a final exam, I had to do a second national exam to enter «liceum» (very rational???). With several separate subjects, we had as foreign language French. Moral and Religion was also compulsory. In a catholic and fascist country anybody with a different religion was treated as an outcast. I had a schoolfellow who was a protestant and had required to be exempt from this class. The teacher humiliated her and persecuted her until she finally got permission to leave. Things like these were normal but for me unacceptable.
I’m very much in favour of democratic education, modern school movement and other free education alternatives inspired by A,S.Neill, Freinet, Ferrer Guardia, etc.

Jenni from «down under» shares her Toolbox with…

Jenni from «down under» shares her Toolbox with Technologies and Pedagogies and I share her approach regarding authentic learning contexts and authentic assessment. In her toolbox she gathers many of the learning theories and tools that I myself have been using.
By the way, the most complete repository that I know comes from a neighbour from «down under» – NZ -http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/

I hope next webinars will be more interesting…

I hope next webinars will be more interesting than those of this week. I think that they are too extensive and boring (my black hat). What was told in this first presentation could be reduced to a max. 15min long screencast. As for the blogging tools you get short tutorials in Youtube that are much more efficient to get you to the objective.

So far I think the Google+ community has been more interesting.
I’ve also twitted but I’m not a fan. I prefer the forum approach to discussion. So, this community wall works better for me as well as my webpage.

I think that the newsletter-email is a good reminder to keep people alert and engaged.

I have a personal space dedicated to MOOCs…

I have a personal space dedicated to MOOCs in wordpress, which I have been using to follow up some MOOCs – idabrandaomooc.wordpress.com. I’ve created a webpage for this MOOC – http://idabrandaomooc.wordpress.com/how-to-teach-online/

At present, I’ve enrolled in MOODLE MOOC, the plaform I use for professional reasons and in a MOOC on Disability promoted by the Northern Illinois University, since I work on ICT and assistive technology for special needs.

I don’t have the habit to enroll in so many courses at the same time, to avoid dispersion, but these ones were very tempting and seemed very useful. So I’m taking the risk not to be fully dedicated to this course but taking whatever I can learn.

I’ll use a Prezi to introduce myself – http://prezi.com/oc9nygvkceaj/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

I have very little experience as a tutor of online courses. I run a virtual community of teachers in Moodle and have acted as a facilitator to validate an online course on inclusion and technology last year. This year I wish to validate a module on Accessible OER and the approach will be the same – a formative one, with activities per topic, peer-based, eportfolio for certification.