After a few days at etmooc

I have to confess that I am finding really difficult to cope with all the information at etmooc. I need time to read the posts, go through the links, watch videos, presentations, make comments, write my own posts and contribute with my own ideas to keep the stream going…Difficult to manage if you are a full-time teacher (and English is not your mother tongue!)

Today, I have had some time to reflect and make some comments on other people’s blogs and also on twitter, but I find it really difficult to start writing posts. It’s not just the lack of time, but also that everybody seems to be so well prepared and experienced that I am not sure I can say anything interesting.

One thought that have come to my mind these days is that we (I mean myself, mainly) need to change the way we approach learning. Most of the tools available today to teachers and students weren’t unimaginable 20 years ago, when I was still a student. It seems to me more and more obvious that the way we learnt stuff at Uni before the arrival of internet, blogs, FB and Twitter is not the right way any more.

Some time ago, a colleague of mine asked me if I could explain to him how to start using a blog, just the basics. As I readily showed him the initial page on WordPress and started to point out some of the main features, he took out his notepad and his pen and started to take notes of what I was saying, step by step. He didn’t even care to look at the computer screen, he just took notes. I felt stupid. I had learnt everything I knew about blogging on my own, just by doing it, visiting other blogs, reading what others who knew more than me were saying, making mistakes, trying out new things, reflecting on what, how and why to do something… My learning had been active, self-motivated and led by own interests. And now there he was, this colleague of mine, trying to learn all that from me (the teacher!), taking notes, pretending skip all the learning process I had suffered and enjoyed at the same time, as a student would have done 20 years ago.

With all the technological advances available to us nowadays, it is clear to me that way of learning is not working any more. The problem is, I am not sure I have yet found the right approach to how to learn and enjoy the process, without feeling overwhelmed, stressed by so many new things to learn, ideas to reflect on…


About Juan Fernández

HE Spanish teacher in love with London I am from Granada, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, but I have lived in UK for almost twenty years. I have always been interested in languages, travelling and learning about other people's cultures. Maybe that's why I teach Spanish in London, at University College London. Recently I have become more and more interested in the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.
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15 Responses to After a few days at etmooc

  1. bettyannx says:

    I really liked your point about how you learned about blogging on your own. I think that is self-directed learning, and what we need to start encouraging students to do. I started thinking about that when I reflected on how I approached learning new things. Finding a mentor is extremely helpful but I also need time and permission to just play with it. I taught Grade 1 for many years, and I knew I always had to let the kids play with new tools (say, Math manipulatives) before we started using them to learn concepts. Same thing on a larger scale! Our job is becoming more about giving students the tools they need to become lifelong learners rather than sharing predigested chunks of information. It’s exciting.

  2. granainoinuk says:

    I think that might be the way forward when approaching learning something new… self-directed learning, time to play with things, reflect, learn with others…but the lack of a structured path may be a bit chaotic for some – 😉

  3. Deidre Wilson says:

    I think play is the key word. If we are to move forward than it is time to play, experiment, try, fail and try again that we need to encourage. I feel overwhelmed too but love trying all the stuff being shared. I think for learning to happen we have to be changed. We have to know or be able to do something we didn’t know or could do before the learning experience.

    • granainoinuk says:

      I like your attitude. It is very positive and stressless 🙂 I like to put the words “play” and “learning” together.

  4. Gemma says:

    Hi, Juan! I feel identified with your points of view. About this MOOC, I’m trying to make connections and learn, choosing, observing… For me the mainly problem is the language, I don’t understand all the things that I read nor can express myself in the blogs of others, although it’s being a good experience to improve my English… 😉 About the collegue of yours: In my job I try to orient adults in the uses of New Technologies and they usually have a little fear to experiment with technology, they need writing everything that I say too… I think that their (and our…) past about how they (and we…) have learnt at school years ago it isn’t easy to change. But I try it, I try that they try it too…
    And, personally, I think that the time it’s an important thing at learning, especially in this kind of experiences… The time that everybody need to learn and enjoy with it, at their rhythm.
    (no estoy segura de haberme expresado bien pero ahí estamos…) Salud!

    • granainoinuk says:

      Two good points, Gemma: learning at your own pace and how difficult it is to change our own learning habits. It will take time, I agree.

      Tte has expresado bien, por cierto. Es bueno participar en estos cursos internacionales, aunque solo sea por mejorar el inglés!)

  5. Sue Dunlop says:

    Your thoughts are so aligned with mine! ETMOOC is overwhelming. Up to now, I’ve been noodling around on my own (with some help from smarter-than-me colleagues) because I really want to. I’m still sorting out how I want o proceed.

    • granainoinuk says:

      Hopefully, we´ll learn how to handle all this new technology in a way which is playful, fun, interesting and stimulating.

  6. Sue Waters says:

    I use to deliver professional development for educators on how to use online tools and the type of support they needed was related to where they were along in their online journey. Those starting out needed lots of one-on-one support, with paper based how to steps, where they would then write their own notes. As people progress in their skills you do see them move eventually from this, to teaching themselves; sometimes it’s just a case of giving them something they want to play with in their own time, that grabs their personal interest, and they start gaining the skills without realising.

    The key with the ETMOOC is to use strategies that make it faster to review the material while accepting you don’t need to follow every link and learn everything right now. For example, my strategy is I use an android tablet which makes reading / commenting faster. I pull the ETMOOC blog hub into Google Reader on my tablet which allows me to quickly read the latest posts. The Google+ app lets me quivkly check the latest discussions and the ETMOOC hashtag pulked into FlipBoard allows me to quickly check the twitter conversations.

    Spending a bit of time working out what strategies will help you speed up the process makes it more manageable.

  7. karacjacobs says:

    Love your post! I could relate to a lot of your feelings. And I have also experienced the colleague writing down lists of instructions for creating a blog. I think the feeling of being confused, stumbling and trying to figure things out on your own is the best way to learn. That is how I learned to create my class website. It used to be a list of homework and now I have four class websites with unit packets, videos, and a (perhaps) ridiculous amount of links. And most of that I learned on my own, no one taught me.

    ETMOOC is definitely feeling a little strange right now, but I am confident that as we move along and start to make more connections, we will feel more settled. But we might not feel totally comfortable because this is such a totally different way of learning!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about ETMOOC so far. I look forward to reading more! And I’ll “see you” on Twitter 🙂 Btw, I read what you wrote on G+ about G+ and I agree in that it seems a little redundant to have G+ and Twitter… and then Google Reader for all of the blogs!! I am invaded by ETMOOC! 😉 But maybe that will help me to find the best stuff.

    • granainoinuk says:

      Thank you for your comment. You has expressed much better than me exactly all I wanted to say in my post (my English writing is not very good and teaching Spanish full time doesn’t help!).

  8. granainoinuk says:

    Thank you, Sue, you advice is really good. Part of my problem might be, as you say, that I am trying to follow every link and learn everything right now. I will need to find some strategies (like the ones you suggest) to deal with etmooc in a way that works for me.

  9. Pingback: Etmooc Comment Scraper Output (continued) « Connection not Content

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