Lifelong learning reflection

It’s Friday evening and just some hours ago I finished a training workshop for teachers about ‘how to teach with Moodle‘. I spent 12 hours in sessions of 4 hours/day with teachers from Primary and Secondary who were eager to start their summer holidays after a long and hard yearly course. The last effort for them was to become students for some days to learn about a popular LMS called Moodle.

This post will be my first learning reflection for the OERu course #OCL4Ed. The topic will be about my experience in teaching colleagues (I’m also a teacher) about ICT for education. What they feel and how they react when they become aware of the new possibilities provide by tons of ICT tools mostly free of charge and easily accessible.

Let me say in advance that I was lucky because I had a strongly motivated and hard-worker group. We applied strictly the ‘learning by doing‘ motto along the workshop. Their previous level of ICT competences was diverse: most of them followed the intensive learning plan quite well but some needed extra help sometimes. Even so, the group was quite homogeneous if compared with others I’d had.

Although the goal of the workshop was to learn teaching with Moodle, I didn’t miss any opportunity to talk about lifelong learning, 0pen educational resources (OER), creative commons, open-source, informal learning, social media and many other trending topics nowadays. Looking at their faces and how they reacted when  I pronounced these topics usually gives me and idea about to want extent they were exposed these topics.

As I posted in a recent tweet commenting a video of Desmond Tutu speaking about these topics in 2007, there’s still a long way to achieve the Desmond Tutu’s goals. Sometimes I think that instead of closing, or at least reducing, the gap between the evolution of ICT and the digital competencies of teachers, the gap is growing more and more.

I haven’t got the magic bullet to fix the gap but, my long experience training adults (mostly teachers) gave me some guidelines that seem to work better than others. I’m going to list here some of them:

  • Workshops are better than courses: People learn better if doing instead of only listen and taking notes. In workshop based trainings, people have to work more but usually also perform better and retain more at he end. Teacher’s workshops should produce usable learning objects (LO) as the main outcome. Handwritten notes taken in a conference are valuable but a LO are definitely much better because they are ready to be used in class.
  • Become again an student as often as possible is a valuable experience for any adult but particularly for teachers. Trying out the difficulties and challenges of learning from scratch will increase teacher’s awareness of what our students feel. Perhaps the experience as a student can lead to some change in our teaching routines and to a higher sensitivity to assess our student’s outcomes
  • People need to feel that he/she is allocated in a group where the level of required competences are very similar: If we feel that we’re the less competent in a group we will drop out sooner than later. Teachers who give up or have a frustrating experience training course won’t retake easily unless they were forced to do it.
  • Lifelong professional training needs to be carefully planned with the worker: We must stop sending employees to attend to courses massively without a personal learning design. No more courses about how to use flashy webtools like Prezi, Weebly (all of the excellent tools!) for anyone who is still unable to copy, paste, attach, upload or download a files over internet or find out the size of a file.
  • Follow an online course must be part of the full picture: There are tons of free online courses everywhere. Long (months) or just short (a few weeks) courses are on the list to be chosen according to personal preferences and motivations. Doing a short and carefully chosen online course should be mandatory for all teachers as a goal for their annual training plan.

To connect what I’m writing with the goals of the OCL4Ed activity I should point out that doing this course is aligned with what I claimed some lines ago. OCL4Ed is an online course that I chose by myself. The course topics are in my radar this year because I had to deal with creating open learning objects with open source tools.

I hope this post will meet the evaluation criteria declared for the ‘1st Learning reflection’ task. If you disagree with my opinions feel free to post a comment and we can go on debating online.


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