in flow or reflections on week 2 #lthejan13 @pgcap

We had a special Valentines session this Thursday. Full house too, which is always nice. A heart balloon (but not for long,  loads of red paper hearts filled the room but also real ones that were full of life, love and energy. Silos broke, we opened up.

LTHEJan13 week 2: reflecting, observing

How do you learn? #lthejan13 said

We learnt what reflection is through actually immersing ourselves through a facilitated activity into our own past, trying to make sense of it and learning something through it. We all got what reflection is really quickly. Fancy Powerpoint slides would just be a distraction, would have made reflection look like something detouched from reality, something sterile and distant. Building theory through experiencing it in our own context is much more powerful than the other way around, I think… Is this aways possible?

The session worked really well, I think and it was a feel good session, not just for me but I could see that my students felt that it was useful for them. Somebody said at the end: “The 3 hour session went so fast, like an hour which means the session was interesting.” Did some of us at least experience what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls the state of flow?

Not all sessions are like that and we all have lows as well. Some of them are so low that we feel that we don’t have the strength to continue, to pick ourselves up again. What do we do then? Can we reach out? Should we reflect? What about our emotions? What if we don’t hav anywhere to do? What if our thinking is just not leading us anywhere? How can we move on then?

I have to say, that I am really impressed with my current group and the openness and honesty so far. I think this is the most open cohort ever. The majority of portfolios is open, we have portfolios already available under creative commons licences, some badges too and more importantly we have conversations happening in these portfolios and our Google + community. All this activity just makes me wonder why this hasn’t happen before to that extend? What did I do differently this time? I know that every group is different and what works with one group might not work at all with another but there seems to be a massive change suddenly.

The transition from learning to teaching to reflective learning and teaching happened organically and I think this was the first time also we achieved this. Perhaps I am getting better at making links between different concepts so that what we discuss doesn’t seem too disconnected and the transmissions are now smoother? I think this is really important. If we appear to be jumping from one topic to the other without enabling the students to see and make the connections, this can be confusing. Not saying that confusion is not useful. Confusion is necessary for learning and can lead to strengthening connections and making new ones but also letting go of others.

LTHEJan13 week 2: reflecting, observing

good teaching poster by #lthejan13

Making the connection between learning and teaching was powerful and interesting thoughts and observations came out when we discussed what good teaching is. Collaborative student-centred learning featured strongly but was intermixed with more traditional and conventional views about content, covering, delivering, and lecturing and at the heart of the posters were still the teachers… A disconnect between beliefs and reality? How much time do we spend thinking about  our students and what they will be doing in the classroom? How much time do we spend preparing slides? I think we know the answer. Is this healthy and useful for us and our students? Remember, content is everywhere! It is not about covering! Uncovering is what we need to encourage and original thinking! Is there an opportunity here to un-think! Re-think! New-think!

How would we spend our time preparing when we start from the learner and what we want them to learn? Hopefully next week will be useful for everybody when we will be looking at planning sessions.

LTHEJan13 week 2: reflecting, observing

Cross-disciplinary learning in action

What I need to do now!

Well, I have to admit that we didn’t spent enough time discussing the observations. Despite the 5 minutes mini break. How often have I said, that the 3h should actually be a day event. And I actually think that would be beneficial. We would have a morning session, then a lunch break and then come together again in the afternoon. In my head I can plan for a series of LTHE days and can see this working really well. Will it ever happen? If the module was offered in blocks, we could have a chance… maybe…

Ok, back to reality and my plan. I think it would be useful to offer a webinar in the next week to discuss this further especially as I can see that some are concerned. Ok, I think I need to think of a day and go ahead with this idea. Can’t afford to just forget about it and assume that everybody will be ok. Thinking of also inviting others who have completed the module and share their experiences about the observations they carried out.

Comments are always very welcome 😉

@pgcap #cohort2 getting there hopefully

This song is just great. It gets me into a very positive mood. It wakes me up, makes me alert and fills me with energy which I need this evening. Music is definitely a power-medicine!!! Could we use songs for your reflections? Do you connect with music you hear? Does music affect you at all? Something to think about.

I am back with some more thoughts and reflections on today’s session. I should really be finalising the paper I am preparing for the PBL conference but I just feel the need to do something different before I tackle this for the very last time. So, here I am.

It was really nice to see everybody again today. I enjoyed the session. It felt relaxed and I think the amount we did was about right, for me anyway. Any comments on this would be very welcome, if you did attend and participated in this session. At the moment, I feel a bit unsure what people think about the co-delivery.

And there was a moment during the session today when I thought that we confused everybody or at least some. This is something I thought about when travelling home and looking back. It was when we started talking about referencing and how we do it when using audio, video or any other media-rich methods beyond text. We definitely need to reference! The confusion I think was created because our two groups are using two different tools to build their portfolios. For the PebblePad a template is been used which has a separate section for all referencing. With our WordPress portfolios we also have some structure but I have suggested to keep the references together with the actual pieces. So if I write something and I am using specific literature, I would like to see these referenced properly using the Harvard Referencing System in the text and also at the end of the text add a references list with the full information about the book, article etc. Also, if it is an electronic source adding the hyperlink would be super and enable us to access it faster. If you go for audio, I suggest to mention the book, article and the full description in the audio or video file, again using Harvard) so that everything is together. Neil and I both agree that referencing needs to be done. It is the how that changes if working using the different tools. However, I think there is a need and the room for flexibility and personalisation as well which is important too. The more prescriptive we are or become the less creativity we encourage.

Strange really the whole thing with reflection, isn’t it? We prepare, deliver, reflect and we did that openly immediately after the session and turned it into a communal activity, but the session was and still is with me 8pm in the evening while I am writing this and I actually felt the need to write something. Maybe capturing it somehow, externalising it, it helps us also to close that chapter, that session and move on. I don’t know.

I am pleased that we did share our initial thoughts on today’s session with everybody. I think it helped everybody realise how random and messy things are but that to view it as something that is normal. Again, looking back, what we didn’t do is to actually think about how this session could be improved further and yes, what we would/could do differently next time. What would we do differently? No, this is hard, and I definitely can’t speak for Neil, but I would say, that we should consider ‘cutting bits out of that session’. The activity that we missed out in the end, was actually a very useful activity and I hope that people will access the whole presentation and have a look at the resources around reflection and study how different reflective writing actually is let’s say in comparison to writing a report or an essay. This activity was actually vital and looking back now, I am just thinking, maybe we should have cut something else. It is tricky, I have to admit but maybe we could have asked our participants and give them an option. I think that would have worked. We could have presented them with 2 options and whatever the majority goes with, we could do. That is actually not a bad solution I think and creates an opportunity to learners for shared ownership and responsibility. I think we should try that in one of our next sessions and I have actually already an idea linked to week3. Neil doesn’t know about it yet but I hope to discuss it with him in the next few days. Can’t wait now.

Already written quite a lot I just noticed but when I started writing I wanted actually to focus on something completely different which is gone out of my head now. Strange really isn’t it. You have an idea, start writing but you end up writing something completely different and in the end you forget what you wanted to write about originally. Weird how our brain works! We are such a complicated machine.

When I was cooking supper, suddenly, after all that thinking about today and the need to capture my reflections, I switched and started planning next week’s session and got excited about it already. Am I mad? How can you get excited about a session… some would say but I think this is really important and I am probably over-using the word exciting, excitement – not because I am a silly foreigner who doesn’t know any other synonyms (this is a Greek word, by the way), but because I just get excited about teaching and learning and just love to do things that come us a surprise for some/many. No, not to shock, but just to enable people to experience something less common, something that has the potential to be explored further. Like are saying, we provide the space to experiment with ideas and do things differently and do different things altogether. We try! If anybody isn’t taking anything away from any of our sessions, I think it would be a waste of time to attend and I think that applies not just to our sessions but to all sessions. Do you know what your students are taking away from your sessions? Have you asked them. I am very interested to find out and will actually ask you, or am asking you now. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with me.

Further readings and materials on reflection I had put together for a pilot, please access MoRe

I better stop here now because I have to do all that work this evening which I don’t really want to do now, but I have to. Ok, by for now and we will speak again very soon.