Doris and I have just begun taking an interactive, completely asynchronous online “workshop” with one of our main influencers, Jane Hart. The title of the “workshop” is Modernising Training Content (she is British, hence the spelling differences). Here is the description:
Much of today’s e-learning is unappealing, and differs greatly from the resources enjoyed daily on the Web. This workshop looks at how to modernise training content to bring it more in line with that found on the Web, as well as how to make it available in more flexible ways.
Jane will be our learning guide. She says this about the structure of the workshop:
Please note this is not a traditional online course. As it is hosted on our social platform, think of it more as a place for socialising and learning from one another – rather than an online classroom! Each week a set of reading and practical activities will be released, and you are invited to work through them as best suits you and fits in with your working life, and then share your thinking and your work with the group. Although nothing is compulsory, you will find that the more you “learn out loud” with the other participants, the more you will get out of the workshop
Doris and I have written a lot about online learning, working and learning out loud, and creating learning networks and bubbles. Although we have participated in MOOCs and other online professional development opportunities, Jane is explicitly giving us permission to learn and work in the course as we can. She does emphasize, as you see in the quote above, that the more you invest in the workshop, the more you will get out of it.
What is a procrastinating person like me, who struggles with staying focused and organized, to do with such an invitation to learn as I can? My first reaction was one of “hooray!”, no pressure! Next was a dialogue with myself about how I wanted to get a lot out of the course, it was a chance to work with Jane Hart (as my learning guide no less!), to work in a new way that we can apply here at the Studio and in my other work, and to meet and learn with a new network of people. I also paid for this course, so getting something out of it has a monetary incentive. I chided myself: what kind of online learner am I if I don’t participate and learn as much as I can, and how can I tell others to do what I am not willing to do myself? Chastened as well as determined, I am going to try and do as much learning as I can handle in this workshop and work out loud as loudly as I can.
I am going to use the advice Doris and I have given about digital learning and literacy, and revisit Howard Rheingold‘s and Harold Jarche‘s prescriptions for successful online learning. Here is my plan:
- Committing to a couple of hours a week, Jane’s suggested time to benefit the most from the workshop. I will schedule focused time either each day or every few days to make this happen, and stick to my schedule.
- Creating new habits and routines that support learning is one of Howard Rheingold’s digital literacies. He coined the term “infotention” to describe being focused enough to pay attention in a digital environment: the mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills and computer-powered information filters. In addition to setting a schedule, I intend to turn off all notifications, emails, text messages, etc. during my focused time for the course and be fully present.
- Remembering that learning is fun, exciting, and opens new worlds. Focus on being excited about the learning activities Jane has in store for us, not stressing about the assignments I have due.
- Following Harold Jarche’s Seek, Sense, Share to engage in the learning process. Seek out the information Jane provides, mine links and references from my fellow workshop takers, then formulate my own learning, and share it in the workshop social space with others. Engage in discussions to deepen understanding and thinking.
- Making new contacts and widening my learning circle. Being open to diverse views, cultures, attitudes, and knowledge levels. Workshop attendees appear to be from all over the globe, so it is an opportunity to broaden my horizons and reflect on my cultural biases.
- Keeping up with each week’s focus and activities by adhering to my schedule and maintaining my focus. Although Jane invited us to learn as we can, I know that once I let assignments slide and time goes by, I never catch up. Life gets in the way, work and family obligations take over, and I just give up trying to regain the learning momentum. I want to break this cycle and make learning in this course a priority for my time.
Wish me luck! This is a noble plan, and I hope to stick to it. I’ll report in a later blog about how it went, what worked, what didn’t. I can say that I am excited to be enrolled, taking the workshop with Doris (always good to have a buddy), and being able to work out loud about it with all of you.
What plans, skills, and tips do you have for learning online? What has your experience(s) been with online workshops and courses?
Featured image attribution: https://r3bl.github.io/en/learn-something-every-day/