Steph's E-learning and Digital Cultures Blog

part of the MSc in E-learning at the University of Edinburgh

Archive for December, 2011

End of Lifestream Summary

A thoroughly challenging and inspiring few weeks have been spent involved in the course content. When embarking upon this course, two personal concerns were that the content would be irrelevant to my professional practice or the technical aspects too advanced considering my limited experience of e-learning. Fortunately, the course has proven to be relevant and (although frustrating at times) technically achievable. My journey over the past twelve weeks can be compared to walking a path with one foot on the uneven rocks and the other on trudging through mud, knowing too well that if the two paths would combine the journey would become more manageable. One foot followed a path of experiencing the many and varied modes in which the education can be facilitated by digital means. This has been reflected in the weekly summaries. The second path was one of academic learning; exploring intricacies of the ethics and philosophies related to cyberculture, virtual communities and posthumanities. The task at the end of each block provided some even ground as the paths merged and I embarked upon the opportunity to share my understanding course content through a digital activity.
At times it felt like a success or failure situation as I tried to understand the readings and find a way represent this in a way that fed into my lifestream. I can now appreciate that success is not simply an opposite of failure. With a ‘failure’ in using feeds or a bookmarking site came the opportunity to learn, improve and achieve a greater understanding of the place of e-learning and digital cultures within the real world. Likewise, the tasks provided opportunity to integrate a new digital activity into my lifestream. As noted in the weekly summaries, this was time consuming and perhaps not as comprehensive in content as if I had put pen to paper. However, the lessons learnt from the experience of undertaking a digital activity are as invaluable as learning academic arguments when it comes to understanding the uses of e-learning and digital cultures within education.
It became challenging to keep the weekly summaries in sync with the course contents when moving onto a different block of work before all work had been completed for the previous block. I decided that it would be best to keep the summaries chronological aligned with the calendared course content to provide some structure to my lifestream.
My lifestream reflects a hesitation in sharing my knowledge/understanding before I have a comprehensive appreciation of a concept. The comments posted in relation to my work helped me to consider concepts in more depth and from an alternative stance. I well appreciate that peer support and shared thinking facilitates understanding and concept development. This course structure, as with any way of learning, has required testing and practice in order to establish how it works best on an individual level. Therefore, in future I personally would contribute to future blogs and seeks peer engagement more freely and certainly advocate it as an effective educational process.
Having to initiate each account for the first time, for everything that fed into my lifestream is representative of my previous involvement with such modes. Such academic discourse has proved itself to be motivating. The ‘conventional’ expression of knowledge through academic writing is self limiting. Using Prezi, twitter or blogs with links to U-tube for example, allow an expression of complex notions; unrestricted by the constraints of an essay. The experience of e-learning has also raised some interesting ethical considerations that I intend to further explore within the assignment. All in all a very worthwhile journey!

Week 12 Summary

Much time this week has been spent reading and looking at PBworks, though this has not been fed into my lifestream. It is only as I come to write this summary that I see how empty my lifestream is this week. I realise that I am naturally inclined to work through ideas in my mind more so that through writing. As this is does not enable assessment of my processes and if probably not the most efficiant way of working, I have made a last minute attempt to represent some of ‘background activity’. A few pages from StumbleUpon and posting a blog in response to the comments received on my posthuman pedagogy have now fed into my lifestream. It has also be useful to take the opportunity to look at classmates lifestreams and see how the themes that have emerged from their end of block tasks vary and also seem to relate to the individual interests.
In preparation of submitting this section of the course I have also played some more with the format of my page. Adding a contents list (in the form of tabs) across the top of the page will hopefully make it easier to navigate around my posts. The final course summary is also ready to publish.

Week 11 Summary

To look at my lifestream this week it would appear that no work occurred this week. However, quite the opposite is true. In preparation for the final assignment I have been looking back over my previous end of block tasks and the subsequent comments. Some posts provide a useful reference to literature that has been identified as being relevant to the work I have produced. This seemed a logical way of deciding the focus for my assignment as the contents of the tasks has been self motivated and therefore the subsequent recommended readings are general found to be of personal interest. These comments have certainly helped develop my understanding and spurred on some critical thinking that I hope to carry over into the assignment.

Week 10 Summary

Much of week 10 was been spent understanding the first half of this block. By moving onto pedagogy I have found some clarity on the previous readings and been able to construct a blog for the posthuman/cyborg readings. After spending considerable time on Prezi and Slides/U-Tube presentations in previous weeks I decided a blog (with hyperlinks) would be appropriate for presenting my pedagogy within the timeframe. I was happy with the outcome and have received useful and interest comments. This has been one of my more enjoyable sections of work as I realise I have a particular interest in pedagogy and inherently find myself looking at e-learning as a method with which to become more familiar…something I am reading around in view of the final assignment.
Now at week 11, I am more comfortable with the format of the course and find myself not needing to make such a conscious effort to use blogs and the likes of delicious and StumbleUpon as they have become part of my routine when looking for wider reading and storing artefacts. My newly acquired familiarity with such sites has most probably contributed to taking some of the ‘stressful effort’ out of studying and allowed me to consider the content in more depth. I have even started using these sites for other courses and browsing personal interests. With the little remaining time left to the structured part of this course I hope to use Holyrood Park Hub some more as this is an area that I can see will help me develop ideas for the assignment AND become more comfortable with sharing ideas in a virtual community.