ALIA Schools Online Forum: Online learning – Day 1


ALIA Schools Online Forum: online learning – Day 1

Welcome to the first day of the ALIA Schools Online Forum: online learning.

Everyone is welcome to participate and there are no registration requirements. If you do post a comment/s during the next week, you will be entitled to a certificate of participation for your records which you can request on the final day of the forum.

Over the coming week we encourage our participants to take a small amount of time each day to think about our focus questions and learn a little bit more about online learning. We suggest that you also post a response here on our blog to share your thoughts and understandings with other participants.

Our daily plan for the forum is:

 Day/Date Focus
1: Wed 19/10 Introduction and overview
2: Thu 20/10 Online learning vs learning online
3: Fri 21/10 What does online learning look like in our schools?
Weekend Break
4: Mon 24/10 Suggested tools/repositories to explore
5: Tue 25/10 Online learning tips
6: Wed 26/10 Conclusion and certificates

Today we ask participants to begin thinking about their understanding of online learning. We recommend that you read the following two short articles and respond with your thoughts about them, or suggest other articles that participants might find useful.

We look forward to engaging with you all here on our blog during the next week.


21 thoughts on “ALIA Schools Online Forum: Online learning – Day 1

  1. Currently I’m studying a Master of Education degree in Teacher-librarianship at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). One of the units is called ‘Connected Learning’. The word ‘connected’ sums up my understanding of online learning. Yes, the ‘6 online collaboration tools and strategies for boosting learning’ are essential ingredients to facilitate effective online learning. The title of the article ‘Online, collaborative learning’ emphasises the co-operative, connected ingredient to online learning. However, another key ingredient to effective online learning is the role of the teacher or moderator. Guiding inquiry in the online environment is essential for effective learning.

  2. This is good to think about and reflect on what we are actually doing in practice. This morning I am taking an extra and the Year 5 class are all using Story Bird to write a book for Year 1. I am seeing collaboration, hearing discussions about the emotion characters are feeling, I am hearing students edit and make changes to their story when choosing the right pictures. I am hearing students learn through story writing! Love my job!

  3. Pingback: ALIA Schools Online Forum: Online learning – Day 1 | Information Learning Nexus

  4. It appears that one of the characteristics of online learning that is so powerful are the opportunities to connect, collaborate and create. As we move into the online space, perhaps we need to re-vision how we define knowledge and knowledge creation. The affordance of the internet to create (relatively) low cost access to abundant information moves us naturally to a social constructivist view of learning which recognises the interaction and dialogue between learners and between learners and their environment. Therefore online learning becomes a pedagogical challenge; we cannot simply transfer what we have always done into this different context; we are challenged to re-think and re-design to support creation and connectivity.

    • So true: “we cannot simply transfer what we have always done into this different context; we are challenged to re-think and re-design to support creation and connectivity.” When educators/principals think about transferring existing traditional courses online and call this innovative, that’s when you realise that you can’t envisage transformative learning online without a personal experience of learning with others online.

  5. I did my Grade 3 by distance education….correspondance school in the day. The opportunities for a student base to come from anywhere and location to not be an issue in engaging with other learners at school, university or in workplace learning is very powerful.

    In the secondary school where I work we are using the schools edition of Office 365 which has a classroom version of OneNote which enables information to be shared and collaboration to take place in a very immediate environment. It has a better mechanism to combine organisation and collaboration than Google Docs.

    As a teacher I have particiapted in workplace training in the form of online courses (First Aid, Disability and Access PD) as well as participating in Professional Development in the form of a MOOC, an online course on Project Management and undertaken the Vic PLN.

    The potential is huge in what we can provide. The main issues for me are:
    -the design of the course needs to keep the learner engaged
    -technology is a delivery mechanism , and needs not to be what you land up learning (it need to work seemlessly)

    I agree with Kay that design is key and that we cannot just replicate old style learning in an online environment. Rething and redesign are essential. I look forward to the discussion in the next week.

    • Catherine, I agree that the online course design needs to keep learners engaged. Or even get them to be engaged in the first place. I am engaged now while reading everyone’s comments and thinking about my own thinking in response to these. That’s because I want to have these conversations and connect to others who do the same. The problem with making this happen at my school is that, sadly, many of our students expect to be told what to do. They expect prescriptive lessons with the teaching leading. To get these students to have conversations online is difficult. For example, my co-curricular writing group publish in their blog, and over the years I haven’t been able to get more than a few short comments from them, even though they themselves appreciate receiving comments from readers. I’ve had this struggle when working with classes also. They just do enough if they think it will reflect in their assessment. So ‘the design of the course’ is one thing eg. ‘you must read and comment on more than 3 student pieces’, but the involvement of the teacher in discussions both face-to-face and online is possibly the best bet in terms of creating community and a desire to take part in conversations. I think the interaction ‘offline’ is essential so that online discussions continue from where they left off in the classroom. It’s not easy and particularly in my own school where marks and VCE are often the only thing in sight for students.

  6. The keywords with online learning seem to be connect, collaborate and create. When one of these points is missed the learning is diminished significantly. The comments in the first article about clear instructions are always true, but even more so in an online environment where it is easier to misconstrue something. As others have said, “design is key” as poor design leads to frustration and limited learning.

  7. From reading the two articles today, I feel inspired to create with my students these online experiences:
    1. Use a Google Sheet to record a class list of birthdays, football scores (during the AFL season) and books students are reading each term
    2. Mindmeister – groups of students can use this tool to plan / brainstorm a mind map document when planning a group response for example, about micronutrients and disease prevention.
    3. BigMarker – students could use this tool to participate in webinars. Small groups in Sydney and Melbourne could research a particular animal (that may be endangered) and swap anecdotal findings / sightings from their local areas during a webinar. Another use of this tool is that students can write their procedural texts and then demonstrate each step to others in a webinar.
    4. SlideRocket – students could use this tool to participate in making an online group presentation about a topic (for instance, sustainable water practices). The URL of the group presentation could then be sent to the teacher.
    5. Skype – this tool could assist students in one area of Australia learn about the lives of students in another part of Australia (or the world, depending on time zones).

    • These are all excellent ideas, Judith. I can envisage how much they will learn from each other once they connect with other students. I love the first idea because it starts with who they are and potentially their interests which is a great way to create connections with each other as people rather than just collaborate on work without knowing much about each other. Even if they are in the same class, they might not know a lot about each other if they are mainly focusing on curriculum.

  8. At the ALIA Schools seminar at Westbourne Grammar in August we were given some insight into the design of online courses by Kelly Gardiner from the State Library of Victoria. Key takeaway for me from Kelly: know who the learners are, their needs, motivations, what they already know and what support they require. I liked how Kelly’s team created profiles of their learners to guide the design process and tools that they would use.

  9. The potential of online courses to enrich learning is enormous. No doubt we enjoy a Ted Talk every now and then or an Open University course. I would like to build an online information literacy skills tutorial for our students, that they can just ‘dip’ into as and when it suits them.

  10. I have been working as a librarian in a school for 6 months, so am still relatively new to the school library game! I have been really impressed with the use the teachers make of Google Docs, Google Classroom and the like – I have personally discovered many things I didn’t know Google offered…and I’m generally across of this sort of thing! These articles have given me greater insight into what else is possible.

    On a personal level, though – I undertook my Bachelor of Applied Science (Library and Information Science) via distance ed through Charles Sturt University. I really found it was crucial to have connections with the tutors and fellow students – and the set-up of the course allowed me to develop those. Without that, I believe my experience would not have been as successful or enjoyable as it was.

  11. I’m at a school where we have had 1:1 notebooks for 10 years. We have GAFE, O365 and use Canvas. After reading the articles I realised how much we take for granted as online learning is now so much a part of teaching and learning and the collaboration that online learning allows is so powerful in changing the dynamics and excitement in the classroom.

  12. I’ve just read Corrie Barclay’s article (Hi Corrie!) and have been thinking about his main message about using technology tools to help students collaborate on a task. I was nodding when he said “The students were more engaged when it came to entering and sharing their data – this was not a monotonous task to be done in a workbook.” I absolutely agree that any technology that takes students out of their workbooks and shares their findings and conversations is the way to go. One of my favourite online learning spaces is the humble blog or similar, which students can personalise, using images and multimedia to enhance their writing. There are different online platforms which include blogs and share these so that students and their work are not cut off from the rest of the class, like they would be if they use the traditional workbook. I feel sad when teachers encourage discussion in class but keep the individual student work to themselves and usually read it for the purpose of a mark. Students will care more about their learning if they can share their findings and ideas with their peers.

    I also agree that Google docs and similar are great ways for students to collaborate in their research. Google Forms, for example, can be used for surveys and then the results can be viewed as charts or graphs. There are definitely many such enhancements when using tech. tools.

    In his conclusion, Corrie says: “Something as straight forward as having many students access and collaborate on one shared Google document meant that 21st Century teaching and learning skills were being developed, adapted, and showcased. That is where the real teaching and learning lies.”

    I admit that I felt slightly uncomfortable with the statement: ‘That is where the real teaching and learning lies’. Yes, technology tools, if used appropriately, can enhance teaching and learning and help students practise real world skills, but I wouldn’t say that this kind of learning is more ‘real’ than a teaching/learning situation that uses no technology. I think we have to be careful not to idealise technology but to think carefully about how and to what extent it can be used for optimal learning.

    • Thanks Tania,

      I enjoyed reading your reply and feel the same as you regarding:

      “I admit that I felt slightly uncomfortable with the statement: ‘That is where the real teaching and learning lies’. Yes, technology tools, if used appropriately, can enhance teaching and learning and help students practise real world skills, but I wouldn’t say that this kind of learning is more ‘real’ than a teaching/learning situation that uses no technology.”

      Absolutely – “I think we have to be careful not to idealise technology”……. but to consider carefully how technology, at times, can enhance and extend the learning of our students. .

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