Three teachers of mine and I are participating in OLLIE, a summer online learning opportunity through Heartland AEA 11 - facilitated by Evan Abbey, blogger extraordinaire (and blog baller), instructional technologist and area technology expert. I have just completed the first module and here are my initial reactions.
First off I have taken a couple grad courses online 6-7 years ago and have helped administer our Moodle site at CAM High School. I have experience, but my knowledge has many gaps that need filled.
The Facilitator is Key: Evan has been great getting daily announcements out, being flexible with some initial problems and communicating those as well as providing screencast instruction as needed. Each Evan "buzz" on my blackberry reminds me to touch base with the class at least once a week and has me done with the first week's activities on Thursday.
Don't underestimate the power of the forum Reading other's responses and my own, commenting and browsing has really helped me start constructing a vision of online learning from the fuzzy/cloudy one I had coming into the course. It gives you time to thing and construct your thoughts from information provided and created within the course and in the forum.
Learning takes place when you're ready: I sat down twice to work on OLLIE and just plain had to shut the laptop and do something else. While this morning I got on just to check the news update and ended up finishing the weeks assignments I still had to complete. Also sipping a beverage on your patio and reading an article as the sun sets is pretty cool too.
Personal connections online: Without talking, chatting, messaging or emailing I am feeling a personal connection to members of the group and the facilitator. Just listening to the screencast is amazingly calming and good to see and have available at your disposal. There are two people who follow me and I follow on Twitter taking the course and the connection started there has already started to grow.
Little things matter: Just knowing that the drop downs are for in Moodle and watching on the screencast has elevated my knowledge on "groups" ten-fold. I now have a new perspective on utilizing Moodle and it came from something I felt I didn't need to look at.
Modular learning is better: Being able to see things divided up, knowing that you need to complete a set amount of material to move forward basically is like defining objectives without listing them and droning on about "here are the objectives you need to meet...." It's nice to take a little time to jump around and look, have the organization right in front of you at all times, not just tucked away in a syllabus is huge. I see this as an important step in transforming education at the high school level as you can begin to individualize instruction for students better if the essential skills are taught in ways that are compartmentalized. If one module or skill is deficient, OR already mastered, you can move to another (not necessarily in order). This could be the missing link to breaking down Carnegie Units within the current systems between secondary and post-secondary institutions.
The experience looks to be the one I've been searching for and am excited to start Week two soon....or maybe Monday.
I get to choose.