How my Student-led Seminar Experience Improved my…

An old Chinese proverb says: “Tell me – I forget, show me – I remember, involve me – I understand” and this proverb encapsulates what I learned from co-leading the unit 2 seminar.

How it improved my Digital Literacies  – my involvement of the design of the seminar has enhanced my technical ability to allow me to utilise and leverage more of the tools available on Moodle.  What I learned, especially from my more technically able partners, has allowed me to take a more active part in my online design role at work.  I feel more of a partnership has emerged between myself and my Learning Technologist. I’ve moved away from simply being the expert in the content, but having to leave all the online design to them, to being more able to contribute to the online design.

How it improved my confidence in engaging colleagues with online provision – most likely with the increase in my digital ability, I was able to identified an opportunity to provide online knowledge for students, allowing a more blended approach in a recent joint initiative. Prior to unit 2 seminar, I would have required more technical support and definitely wasn’t as confident at engaging colleagues in adopting new online delivery methods.

How it is improving my online and blended practice – I also wasn’t as confident in my ability to engage an unknown student audience. Practice with this seminar gave me the opportunity to try new things out and receive feedback, in a ‘safe’ environment.  Truly reflecting the success of the exercise for my personal learning style of: ‘involve me and I understand’.

What this experience also allowed me to appreciate more fully was recommended reading from unit 1 – ‘Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community’ (Palloff & Pratt 2005). In chapter 2 ‘The Process of Collaboration’, key stages of collaboration are described, and from the point of view of:

  1. a collaborative learner (in the seminar team)
  2. a collaborative leader (in leading the seminar)

I experienced the real value of the tutor ‘staying present and involved in order to assure that students will engage with one another in a meaningful way’.

Our tutor Anne modelled this as she supported us as a team (the stage – ‘Model the Process) and I consider we followed her lead up by making a good job of replicating this stage for our seminar participants. We also successfully ‘Guided the Process’ (the next stage) and positively impacted on the seminar by joining in the discussions started by participants or kick-starting topics to lead the way in thinking (P.22-23).

Continuing with Palloff and Pratt into chapter 3 ‘Collaboration Challenges’ they describe that often there are ‘Things That Go Bump in the Night’! Examining the list of collaboration challenges (Davis, 1977, extended by Palloff & Pratt P.31-33) I don’t consider that this team encountered any of these, however, I can see how some from the list might be adopted by collaborative teams and create real challenges i.e:

  • Turf protection and mistrust
  • Dropping out
  • Reduced participation
  • Teams that play too much

Our team constructed the online seminar in a co-operative way; working to individual strengths and freely allowing others to draw upon and utilise expertise to the benefit of the team and the seminar participants.

I think it worked well on all levels and hope I’m proved correct by the feedback once it’s released.

Palloff, R.M. and Pratt, K. (2005) Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community, San Francisco : Jossey-Bass.

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