Unit 1

September 7-13

Teachers as Learners

Do you perceive yourself as a learner? Granted, you’re enrolled in a university course, so the answer is probably ‘yes.’ I challenge you to continue viewing yourself as a learner, long after this course is over. In this one-week unit, we’ll explore the importance of personal learning networks and we’ll begin to explore the ways in which community reinforces learning.

Objectives

  1. Identify your existing learning network (beyond the scope of this course).
  2. Evaluate the strengths and deficits of your learning network.
  3. Reflect on the differences between novices and experts in your field.
Estimated Time to Complete
 Instruction  3 hrs
 Assignments  3 hrs
 Collaboration  2 hrs

Reading

  • Benander, R. (2009). Experiential learning in the scholarship of teaching and learningJournal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(2), 36–41.
  • Brooks, C. F. (2010). Toward ‘hybridised’ faculty development for the twenty-first century: blending online communities of practice and face-to-face meetings in instructional and professional support programmes. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 47(3), 261-270.
  • Cox, M. D. (2004). Introduction to faculty learning communitiesNew Directions for Teaching & Learning, (97), 5-23.

The articles by Brooks and Cox are situated in the context of faculty support on a university campus. I believe the concepts can be more widely generalized, however, to support the importance of learning community for all educators.

Note: Some of the articles listed as required reading in this course are freely available on the internet. In those cases, I’ve tried to provide a direct link.

If a direct link is not available, you can access the article through the Rasmuson Library, following these steps:

  1. Go to the Find Articles page
  2. Click on Academic Search Premier
  3. You will be asked to log in. This is typically the same username and password you use for Blackboard
  4. Enter the name of the article or other identifying information and press search
  5. Once you locate the correct article, look for a link to the “full text”

If you can’t find an article using Academic Search Premier, you may need to go back to the Find Articles page and click on Journals Listed by Title. Locate the journal and navigate to the cited issue.

Watching

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Personal Learning Networks, please view this short commentary by Will Richardson:

Learning Activity

Begin a brainstorm list of your learning network by answering these questions:

  1. Who do you approach for answers to your questions?
  2. Where do you go for advice?
  3. Who inspires and motivates you?
  4. Where do you find new ideas and resources?
  5. With whom do you share new ideas and insights?
  6. With whom do you brainstorm or problem-solve in the face of new challenges?

Your list may be lengthy. It may include family, friends, and colleagues; it may also include groups, resources (such as journal subscriptions), and web sites. More than any other time in history, learning networks may include people we’ve never met face-to-face.

Once you have a somewhat comprehensive list, evaluate how efficiently the network is working for you. What are the key strengths? Are there obvious gaps? Are you stuck in predictable ruts (do you find yourself relying solely on previous solutions—rather than exploring new and creative ones)? This is a prime opportunity to develop new connections and new strategies for staying current.

Review your online service subscriptions and your connections on Twitter—then make updates as appropriate. Do a little housekeeping to delete old items. Revitalize your lists by searching for new connections.

Expand your personal learning network by connecting with other students in this course:

  • In Twitter and Diigo, follow each classmate
  • When posting, use designated course tags

Reflection and Writing

In the Benander article, the author contends that “experts negotiate the learning space differently from novices.” Reflect on your own experiences with that. Compose a reflective essay to describe the differences you’ve observed between novices and experts in your field. You will share your essay with the class by making a new post (use the +New button at the top of the page). Give your post a meaningful title, and be sure to use the category “Weekly Writing.” Your post should appear on the HOME section of this site.


I will schedule a synchronous meeting on Blackboard Collaborate this week (time to be determined based on student preferences). Watch the Announcement page for details.