Week 1

As a social worker, I was taught to use reflective practice as part of my regular routine.  I’ve enjoyed that this community has been about sharing and reflecting.  Making sense of material and trying to see how it relates to us educators.  The “What? So What? and What Now?” and reflections and sensemaking activities that have been presented as part of this MOOC has impacted so much, that I’ve adapted it for my class.

I struggle with my role as an educator.  I am caught between the paradigm that was my experience and that which I am told is best practice. In social work (and other helping professions) our roles are often that of guide.  I use this idea of being a guide in my role as an educator as well.  My students are at various points in their learning process.  I know and appreciate that I only have a brief amount of time to help them acquire the knowledge and skills that are set for the course, knowing that mastery of the material will be a long-term goal they achieve well after the conclusion of the semester.

This approach of being a guide is different then my academic experience.  In trying to move myself towards this new way of educating, I have no model of comparison.  So as I spend a class period doing activities, I think back to the lectures that I was exposed to and wonder if I am doing everything wrong.  The responsibility of preparing these learners to be the leaders of my profession is daunting.  I worry that I do not do enough to prepare them to be successful.  I wonder how much I must do to create a experience that will motivate them to do more and to do better.

Perhaps is the best thing that I am always questioning if I am doing things right, it keeps me thinking of how to improve myself and my class.

This semester I started a few new things in class.  I end each class with a closing protocol where I ask my students to provide feedback on: what they learned; what they would change; what went well; and what they dislike.  They can also provide a “Tweet” of the class or use 6 words to describe what they learned.  I am hoping that by doing this, I can adapt to their needs and that I can tackle any issues or concerns before they become a problem at the end of the semester.  By collecting the feedback, I am able to gauge what is working and where I may be missing the point  I also started a new “living” assignments and readings document.  This is a Google Document that I update ever week.  Based on class each week, I add new content for them to read in future weeks.  My goal is that they see how fluid a class must be for me to guide them on this journey.

The funny thing is that in doing this Blog, I am gaining an appreciation for the work that I ask of my students.  Here I am, trying my hardest to complete an assignment and turn it in before it is due.

A hui hou!


Week 0 – Post 1

Howzit! My name is Robin, I am a social worker and employee at UH-Manoa.  I had many moments this week questioning why I had decided to do this, but after sitting down and looking at them material for this week and writing my blog entry, I am optimistic about this opportunity.  Best of luck to everyone!

What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?
I’m here to learn and improve my ability to create an engaging class.  I’ve taught graduate courses in social work since 2011 in a variety of formats (through interactive television, blackboard, and face-to-face).  Each semester I am able to learn new skills that I apply moving forward, yet I desire to learn more.

What issues do you think are important?
In terms of education, I feel the most important issue is how to engage learners and assist them acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in the future. I also think it is important that more time and focus is directed towards the theories and philosophies driving education and the application of these items in practice.  On a grander scale, I think poverty, the distribution of wealth, equal access to resources, and healthcare top my list of important issues… Additional note, I also believe free resources are important.  In fact they are so important that after creating a blog in edublogs, I moved to back to google’s blogger because many of the features I would like for my blog appear to cost money… Free is always best… Now I am trying to do two blogs with the same or similar content.  I secretly don’t want to abandon edublog as I would like to learn it as well.

How will you contribute?
Good question.  I have attempted blogs multiple times in the past and have never remained actively engaged.  So in starting this blog, I am worried that it will be another failed attempt on my part.  I am a resource sharer.  I like giving out information as I find its applicability to people and situations.  I also like discussion.  So if I had to pick two areas that I will try my hardest to contribute in, it would be sharing resources and engaging in conversation.

How would you like to see community develop among participants?
I am an advocate for learning communities.  I am hopeful that this will continue to be a forum for discussion and learning.  In adult learning, there is an assumption that every learner brings something to the table, an expert in something.  I am hopeful that as a community of learners we can facilitate a fruitful discussion that drives each of our abilities to facilitate online learning, thus moving education forward.

These types of courses are new for most people. In fact about 90% don’t even participate. How will you overcome the fear of learning in the open and the frustration of using new technology? How do you plan to courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?   New technology is not a fear of mine.  I am an early adopter and try many different means to figure out what will work best for me and my situation.  The openness of a blog is something that I will have to work on.  I’ve instituted some new elements to a class I am teaching that I believe will help me become less fearful of appearing like an idiot and more able to go with the flow.  The public aspect of this can be concerning.  I get most fearful in thinking about how my words are perceived.  With the changing times, it is important to move beyond this and accept that this is part of the new normal. Time will be challenging.  I have a lot on my plate and much more that I want to accomplish.  I need to continue to find the meaning behind the exercises and see how this is truly an opportunity to improve my skills.  If I can keep that mindset, I believe I will remain engaged.

Full disclosure, I didn’t read everything that was asked originally and had to go back and add content to my first blog post.  So in essence, this is post 1.1….

The best teachers I ever had were those that both identified my potential but didn’t let me be complacent.  There are many examples in my past in which I felt my instructors didn’t challenge me, they saw my ability to learn and engage in class and were okay with it.  And in those classes I don’t feel that I acquired as much as I could have nor did I retain that which I did learn. My most memorable interactions are those that have a conversation.  Where there is disagreement and it is welcomed.  I also value fairness and have taken this lesson with me in my role as an instructor.  I strive to challenge and inspire my students while also ensuring there is fairness.

In thinking of those experiences that were less than positive in learning, I identify those elements in which engagement is a problem (meaning I am not engaged), discussion is not welcomed (or if it is welcomed it is dismissed when it does not align with the instructors view of the situation), and the instructor did not appear to be engaged in the material.

Making meaning of this content is also important for me.  And to make meaning of the content I have to see how I can build the parallel to my practice in social work.

I am grateful for the “wear a hat when you comment” and “sensemaking” material.  I’ve been struggling with developing an activity for my class on providing feedback to classmates.  This material will help them reconsider the multiple ways we provide feedback.  MAHALO!