Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Narrowing the focus with 'Me as a Teacher'

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald

Personally I believe that to be a truly effective teacher, you need to instill passion and enthusiasm in your learners to be able to bring about some type of change in their life. Because for me, that's what learning is - change.

I am currently working in a People & Development role (fancy name for HR), which although facilitates training, does not actually conduct any training or teaching. Am I passionate about it the way Road Dahl describes above? No. No I am not. I couldn't convey enthusiasm even if I tried as I am coming from an empty pot , there is nothing left to give!

But what is my passion? This is a question that reverts back to my very core, my very essence, one I have been continually asking of myself.  Varshavskaya (2014) poses the question to ask oneself as 'what I would be interested in doing if money were of no concern'. My Nautropath gets me to think about my passion when she asks 'what is it that makes your heart sing?' (I kinda like the visual of my heart singing).

For me the answer is a no brainer, but at the same time, is  fraught with issues surrounding economic, parental, political and if I'm really honest, fear.

If money were no object, I would be working in a permaculture role from home, teaching others how to do it for themselves.  Perhaps start a seed business to sell online through my blog. Become interested in natural healing using herbs from my garden.Teach people to not rely on others but to be able to give the confidence to others to be able to do it for themselves. I could talk about this topic all day long, I could be researching it til 'the cows come home', I often find myself saying 'Did you know that...' or 'I watched/read/thought about this today and it got me thinking about...'. Like I said, a no brainer for me.

But what is the demand for people to learn this type of information? Is there a market for teaching skills in this area?

I have been interested to read about what others from the course are planning to do.Charm is exploring her use of ICT in supporting teachers, Rebecca White is expanding ICT and NGL with her Yr 4s, Bec is looking at it from a higher education perspective, Sharon from a secondary education perspective Lisa is looking at html and javascript from a LMS perspective, and I am glad Al that you are having similar issues to me in identifying the 'teaching' aspect!

I do feel a little lost compared to others in this course as I am not coming from a current teaching background.  I have considered looking at my 'teaching' aspect as it is described in the assignment requirements - 'to help someone learn' - with the view for this to turn into more formal teaching in the future. 

To expand on my adventures in teaching within a NETGL environment, I feel I can now respond to these questions more adequately;

What is your role as a teacher? Who are your students? What is the context?
  • focus teaching strategies on small scale permaculture to beginners (most established permaculture sites are on larger acreage/small farms or small urban blocks)
  • to facilitate learning opportunities for our climate in the Yass Valley, whilst understanding the upcoming climate challenges
  • Initially, this teaching will be to a 'set' of learners, as described by  Dron & Anderson 2014 and could possibly include ,networks' to get the initial knowledge of my existence 'out there'. It would not be as specific as a group. I guess I will be appealing to the 'lurkers' (those that read but do not participate in electronic discussions) as described by Gray (1999).
 What role does NGL currently play in that context? 
  •  Permaculture Design Course online opportunities
  • Numerous 'experts' in the permaculture field with substantially more experience than me (See some of the videos posted by Geoff Lawnton )  and Bill Mollinson 'Global Gardener' TV series on YouTube.
  • Excellent knowledge sharing through forums  
How do you think NGL might help? 
  • Use blog as basis to attract people and for the name to be seen on other blogs
  • Attract people to formal courses (long term goal)
  • Be able to comment on other local blogs/information and gain credibility by linking/commenting with others on social media
  • Gain credibility by demonstrating knowledge
  • Potential to connect with other practitioners from similar climates in other parts of Australia and even the world.
What difficulties might you face with implementation?
  • Credibility as a teacher, not well known in the area for this type of teaching 
  • How the 'me' can shine through online (potential for videos?)
  • Unsure how I can incorporate all the different learning styles in an online environment
 I still have a lot to tease out in relation to this topic and especially within a NETGL setting but it is a start :)

The Wild Fermenter

After doing some more research into this sauerkraut business, I stumbled across the 'superstar' of the fermenting world - Sandor Katz. He has written the book 'The Art of Fermentation' and maintains the Wild Fermentation website.

The youtube video I  have linked to below is a very interesting watch if you have the time. Here I am focussing on the cabbage to the sauerkraut transformation, hopefully getting to an edible end product, with little thought for the actual process.

In the video Katz talks about microbes, and bacteria in particular, and how our bodies are made up of over a trillion of the little guys, each with their own distinct colonies in different parts of the body. These bacteria, according to Katz, actually outnumber the genetic material in our body 10:1.

What is even more interesting is the connection between the bacteria on the food we consume and the interaction with bacteria in the gut. Although gut bacteria is a hot topic in research circles at the moment, with gut bacteria and its functions linked with autism, and other diseases such as cancer, bowel issues, obesity, diabetes and asthma, it is still an area under researched and not fully understood.

Fermenting foods, like sauerkraut, is the pre-digesting of the food by microbes. Katz claims by eating fermenting foods you are enriching the bacteria in your gut by providing different genetic bacteria material to the existing colonies of bacteria in your gut.

Combine this with organic cabbage, like the ones growing in my veggie patch, with no pesticides or chemicals added, there will be *hopefully* more natural bacteria on the cabbages, and therefore an even healthier or more diverse population of bacteria in the end product? Well one can hope.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Commencing the Sauerkraut learning journey

I am taking it waaaay back to the beginning of sauerkraut making. Here are my little babies :) Homegrown organic cabbages - although I am having doubts as to whether these will be large enough to use by the end of the course!

Although these ones look a little bit eaten! (They are mixed in with the broad beans)

I have begun my search into making sauerkraut from scratch, and luckily today these posts came across my Facebook news-feed (isn't it freaky how technology is now preempting your thoughts before you have even enlisted Google's help!). The first is from Nourished Kitchen. I really like this website as they have some good information and recipes that come across the news feeds. She mentions using a crock like these ones to ferment however, I am not particularly fond of paying a huge amount of money for something I am not too sure we are even going to use! But gives a good indication of the actual process to go through.

I then stumbled across this website from the Kitchn on how to ferment sauerkraut using Mason jars. This sounds a much better solution at this point in my fermenting travels as I have an abundance of these jars from when I preserve sauces and stocks. Also I have read that using smaller jars is better as you are not constantly opening a large fermented jar and contaminating the contents.

I really need to do some more research into how to not let them go mouldy.

My PKM routine

My PKM for this course is going to require drastic changes to the way I have conducted my knowledge management throughout my Master's course, and keeping abreast of general online interest topics.

All previous courses have been on the USQ course page, and all interaction and knowledge acquisition occurred through this central point. This was of course linked with my email which prompted me if there was discussion, posting or the like.

Likewise on keeping track of my personal interests, as you can see on this blog on the lower left hand side, I had bookmarked those blogs I read frequently and new post headings came up underneath. I was also linked on Facebook and could see regular posts there.

As I am a highly mobile person, and very rarely behind the laptop screen unless doing dedicated study, adapting to using feedly on a daily basis is going to take a bit of work, but I can see the benefits, especially once this course has been completed. As always, 'there's an app for that!', so I downloaded the feedly app so I can check in. It seems completely random at this point but I have seen  a few posts from fellow course members so I must be on the right track!

Lastly, I think I will need to do similar to Sharonngl and join Twitter. Like LinkedIn, I have been putting it off and putting it off but alas I think I can do so no more. You can find me here @murramumma. Hopefully I'll figure out how to link the blog, twitter and Facebook at some point! There are some real benefits to all this networking, however I do worry about the pitfalls such as my 'digital footprint' and having all my information out there.

Getting back to the topic at hand, here is the plan for my PKM for this course;

  • Check out Feedly daily (via mobile app), and keep adding to this to make it a valuable resource.
  • Blogs and websites (old habits die hard :) )
  • Still check my emails, as most things are linked to this.
  • Scan twitter
  • Scan Facebook (I still have a lot of links through this) As Jarche said, connecting to the right people, organisations, and the like makes this process so much easier.
  • 'Old school' handwritten notes and mind maps
  • Having the ability to draw information from other areas to make sense of the information in this space, and perhaps to apply other/new ways of thinking about a problem
  • Go back to 'seek' if I hit a road block
  • Blog, Facebook and Twitter
  • Diigo (when I get my head around it) 
  • LinkedIn if it is 'work' related.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Some intial thoughts as Me as a Learner

What would you like to learn? Why? 
  • I am considering learning how to perfect the art of sauerkraut making.
    Really I am looking to learn how to not make a pile of mushy mouldy mess and something that is edible.

    I would like to learn how to make this for two reasons;

    1. I planted the motherload of cabbages in my veggie garden this season with the intent to learn this. Given it is now August, I am going to be swimming in cabbages shortly. I need to know how to make this.

    2. The bacteria from sauerkraut is extremely beneficial for human gut bacteria. This is an area of interest for me and I would like to learn more.

How suited do you think it will be to learning via NGL? What will be the benefits and the barriers?

          I think this will be well suited to online learning, even though the practical component will not be, but I hope to learn using online videos, forums and readings.

What is learning?

Learning is firing up the neuron connections and sparking a change in the way you think/feel/act/behave.

Looking back - Me as a Student

Me as student
  • Describe your prior experiences as a learner in this program. What did you like? What didn’t work? What haven’t you seen that you would like?
I have almost come to the end of my studying online. I originally chose to study online to fit in with my family and work commitments and not physically having to be in a certain place at a certain time.  Technology has changed dramatically, even since I started studying online three years ago. I worry that as my formal learning in an online environment draws to a close, how I am going to keep up with all the new technologies and programs designed to make one's life easier. How am I going to continue to learn about them?

The study conducted by Bell et al, resonated with me, that although some courses 'got it' in terms of teaching online, other subjects simply moved the content from hardcopy 'book/periodical' form into online materials. I didn't find these subjects particularly challenging, and honestly a little stagnate, considering the endless possibilities in teaching knowledge to adults.

I particularly hated group work in an online environment - that is not flexible! Again trying to take an aspect of 'real life university' coursework and translate into an 'online environment' just didn't work.
  • What is NGL? What do you currently know about it?
As can be seen by my blog, I have dabbled in a bit of online informal learning by connecting with other blogs, and also interested parties through my blog.  My knowledge of the possibilities of NGL is minimal but hope to learn more during this course.
  • What have you previously learned that is related to NGL?
The majority of my learning related to NGL is related not to university coursework but to personal interests. I think this gives an indication of the path I should be travelling with my own 'teaching'. I found Day et al's reading particularly interesting and this notion of to be a good teacher (in my mind) and create the inspiration and motivation in students, is to be able to draw on your own identities and motivations and promote this in your teaching. As a student, I find it is hard to not get motivated and have a real curiosity sparked when the teacher is fully engaged and conveys the subject matter as 'the best thing out there', their enthusiasm and knowledge is nothing but infectious. The difficultly is conveying this in an online environment. But I think it can still be done by developing your own online voice.
  • How have you previously performed your student role? What practices and tools do you use? 
After having completely 'bagged' teachers in their conversion to online learning, I must confess I revert back to 'traditional' student tendencies - notebook and readings :(
  • How do these fit with the idea of NGL and what you know so far of this course? 
I need to improve that's for sure!
  • What do you want out of this course? What aren’t you seeing from the course that you’d like to see?
Unsure at this point. Perhaps tools to make learning easier once I leave the formal learning environment.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Ponderings as a Teacher into the future

A concern that has been plaguing my thoughts over the last couple of days (apart from how useful Diigo would have been from the BEGINNING of my online study), is how, once I graduate from being a formal student and progress into the world of teaching (in whichever form that may take),  on Earth do I keep up with all the new programs, networked learning, social media hookups that seem to pop up hourly that I need to contend with?

Does Teaching - whether that be in a formal sense or informal sense (like a mum trying desperately to keep up with ICT to stay ahead and navigate the world for the four kidlets following closely on her heels) - need to be less about the 'expert' and more about the 'collaborator'. Do I need to be an 'expert' in all these different ICT capabilities in order to be a good teacher? I guess this is what I took out of the paper by Jawitz (2009). Academics are still truly a product of the industrial era of teaching, where now, in a knowledge era everyone has access to Google and can instantaneously find the information and be their own expert. To be an Academic in the knowledge era, do I remain an expert or do I evolve into something less formal?

Warner (2006, as cited in Whitby, 2007), identifies key 'knowledge era skills' for effective teaching;
  • collaboration
  • negotiation to arrive at shared expectations
  • engagement management
  • creating and managing knowledge
  • self-awareness and self-evaluation
  • self management and self directed learning 
Regardless of a traditional setting or in a networked global learning setting, I believe these still ring true for what we need to achieve as teachers in this new Web 2.0 world.

I'd be interested in others thoughts :)

Reference: Whitby, G. B. (2007). Pedagogies for the 21st century: having the courage to see freshly. Australian Council for Educational Leaders, Strawberry Hills, NSW.

Me as a student - Emoji pictorial

You would think being in my final semester in an online course I would have this whole online learning thing down pat...but alas no.

For the first couple of weeks I have been like...

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And then I realised how far I was behind and I was like...
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And then I tried to get all the technologies to work and I was like...
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And then I thought about quitting this subject and I was like....

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But then I attended the online chat session, clarified where I was supposed to be heading and now I am all like...

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The Bonzo & Parchoma reading got me thinking about being an online student, in a somewhat 'formal' (well at least structured) learning environment. In particular, when things are deemed too difficult, people tend to revert to coping strategies. In this case, it was good ol' face to face talking (OK...admittedly online and not in the 'true' sense...) to achieve direction out of the online maze.

Thanks for your time tonight David & Charm! :)