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Conference Diaries...
November 2, 2013
My Conference Experience:  I have to admit, I am  somewhat of a nerd.  I love going to conferences; I learn a lot when I get the chance to talk to other members from across Ontario, and across Canada for that matter.  The majority of the workshops that I chose were related to technology. I attended a research symposium on Blended Learning, a workshop exploring Tutela's next steps, and what's up in LearnIT2Teach.

What I Learned:  There is a definite interest in using and exploring Virtual Learning Environments, but as this is still relatively new, there is some difference of opinion on exactly how to introduce a Learning Management System into the classroom.   I've been using MOODLE.  One thing that came up often was the initial investment of time and energy into getting a VLE off the ground, and, as one member pointed out, how to use the various functions of a VLE in a way that is accessible to all learners.

There are a lot of bells and whistles that you can use when you develop your LMS.  From talking with colleagues who are experimenting with a VLE, I'd suggest to take it a step at a time.  Don't overwhelm yourself and your learners with too many functions (wikis, forums, questionnaires, SCORMS, NANOGONGS, etc).  I've written this elsewhere, but I give myself permission to quote myself.  Building an online tool is like using LEGO (TM).  Unless you're well-versed in LEGO mechanics, don't attempt to build a Millenium Falcon on your first go.  Start small.  Figure out how to use the pieces.  Try to build an Inukshuk.

The same is true with your online  VLE; begin by using the forum.  Get your learners comfortable expressing themselves in the group forums.  Read an article, comment, etc.  Then connect this to the development of a Wiki class glossary.  You won’t necessarily use all of the functions that are available, and that’s okay.  Too many distractions can create the deer-caught-in-headlights effect. 

Anyhow, speaking with colleagues from Ottawa, and Manitoba, I’ve found that they’ve come to similar conclusions.  Online learning is a new frontier for many of us.  Manitoba has an online learning conference coming up in January.  Click here to find out more.

Jen Artan, Communications Chair, deeply engrossed in a TESL Ontario workshop.

Me in Toronto 2013

Filed under: Teaching Tips


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