Online Learning (So Far)

As of today, my tools still haven’t arrived and so I can’t post about my first encounter with a push graver or the difficulties of tool control. I decided to look at what I’ve learned so far and how learning online has affected it.

Online learning has its own difficulties, its own pros and cons and I believe I’ve learned a bit about acquiring information from the internet this early in the game. So here is the break down of the pros and cons of online learning according to little ol’ me.

Pros

  • Information is easy to access. I do a majority of my searching on my phone and so I’ve learned about engraving while on the road home from Calgary (my husband was driving, I promise!) and in the pasture while feeding cows.

  • Information is available 24/7. I do not need to work around office hours or someone else’s schedule, I can find information on my time (unless participating in a webcast or something similar).

  • There is a lot of information out there. Bucket-loads. Just about as much information as I could want.

  • There are a lot of different sources for information. Thanks to these various sources, people with different learning styles can learn the same information.

  • There are communities available, no matter where you live. I live so far in the middle of nowhere that most of the road signs are handmade. I’m not kidding. It is hard for me to take classes without driving long hours. The internet makes it easier for me to build my personal learning network (for both education and engraving). I can join a forum for engraving, follow awesome educators on Twitter and read blogs about both. I can ask questions and someone just might answer them.

    billiard-balls

Cons

  • Information can be somewhat scattered. Since there are many sources (and different opinions), my introduction to hand engraving was not laid out like a textbook. I had to actively search for information based on context and I had check out different sources to verify that information. I’m not sure if I’ve really absorbed most of the information I’ve read (I bookmarked just about everything so I can find it again).

  • There might be conflicting information. Thanks to all those handy-dandy sources, I’ve run into conflicting information that I’ve needed to research more. For example, some engravers refer to the flat graver as the wiggle tool. I was thinking they were two different tools until more research led to the conclusion that they are the same thing.

  • The quality of information might vary. Just as the information might be conflicting, the information quality is not guaranteed as it might be from taking a class from a master or purchasing a good instruction manual. Someone posting on a forum might be as green as me, but they might think what they are writing is correct when it might not be. I do not have enough knowledge to be a good judge myself, so I must research thoroughly before I leap.

  • Information about certain topics might be difficult to locate. For example, I can easily find videos about engraving scrolls and letters and working with the wiggle tool, but I am finding it difficult to locate information on how to design scroll work. In this case the internet can only take me so far and I may have to purchase a book or DVD with this information.

How does this look in the classroom?

The application of this experiment is easily transferable to real-world classroom scenarios. Students may find it difficult to locate sources related to their topic or they may need to assess their source by checking it with another, reliable source. Source assessment is an integral part of digital citizenship and one students in the 21st Century must learn. Now that I’ve had a taste of online learning, I can better help my students when they are struggling with issues similar to the ones I’ve encountered the last few weeks.

I can also teach skills that will help students be successful when it comes to online learning. Those skills could include:

  • source assessment

  • organization

  • note taking

  • citing sources

  • compiling sources

Overall, I am excited to continue learning using internet sources and I’ll overjoyed when my tools decide to arrive so I can apply the knowledge I am accumulating. I am ready to embrace being a connected educator and I want to bring my social studies classroom (my future classroom, that is) out of the stone age and embrace the 21st century. I want to create a portfolio (or toolbox, if you will) that will help me set up my class when I do get that full-time teaching job.

Until next time, keep learning!

Robbi

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