Saturday, 13 August 2011

Skills for study

oh where to begin......?!?!??

I took over leadership of the study skills module this year and began by proposing a few tweaks. Now I am heading for revolution (shakes head in despair).

The modest proposal I first mooted was to change the first assignment for this module from a paper-based journal/photocopying and note-taking exercise into an online search terms/ database accessing exercise, with online submission via the VLE. So far so 21st C.

But still I wasn't happy. Yes I need to show first year students how to use library catalogues and e-searching techniques, but surely they need more? What about social bookmarking as a place to save their web searches?

And instead of a final portfolio in a Word document, how about an e-portfolio? a wiki? a blog?

And if I am going to start telling them about these tools and introduce them to Twitter along the way - well, am I not I really on the verge of describing a PLE???????

So my question is this: is it appropriate to introduce Year 1 students to these tools - will they get it? will they be bored already? will it be just too different given that 99% of the rest of their studies will be based on using libraries, text books, the VLE and handing in their work at 2pm on a Friday afternoon after a lengthy queue to get to the reception window.......

Or are these actually essential life skills?

Anyway I have now pretty much decided on a way forward and though I take this route with some misgivings, I will be blogging as a I go and reflecting on how it turns out.

Last year the task for the first assignment in Term 1 was to find, then contrast, two or three articles on a topic chosen at random from a current issue of a health and social care journal. I then discovered that they do a nearly identical assignment for a different module in Term 1 and another also pretty similar for yet another module at the start of Term 2. I don't feel the task on my module is really adding anything to their learning about techniques for study and writing at HE level.

So this year I have decided to give them as a topic the use of social networking tools for study/learning in higher education. This fits well with some of the key texts we look at in relation to study at HE - for example Study skills for social workers - Stogdon, Chris, Kiteley, Robin, 2010

I have already done some research and put some useful articles in a Diigo group they will be asked to follow/join/add to and I will spend some time talking about and demonstrating this site and a variety of other tools - blogs, Twitter, Google sites, wikis, slideshare, iGoogle etc, which they might want to use to start to build their Personal Learning Environment.

I feel like I am stepping into the unknown: but on my side is my passion and my practical experience of using these tools myself for my own learning and I also know I'll have my personal learning NETWORK to fall back on for advice and support :)

Wish me luck!

Reasons to be blogging - Part 1

Yesterday in the course of doing a bit of preparation for next year's modules (or should that be the modules that start in less than 2 months???), I came across this interesting bit of research on motives for blogging.

Motives for Maintaining Personal Journal Blogs Erin E. Hollenbaugh, Ph.D in the journal Cyberspace, Behaviour and Social Networking (where else?) Vol 14 No 1-2 2011

Basically motives for blogging divide into:
  • Helping/Informing
  • Passing the time
  • Exhibitionism
  • Archiving/organizing
  • Professionalism
  • To get feedback
I started blogging to archive and organize my reflections on learning as a PGC(H)E student; I was encouraged to do this by Richard Hall , but I continued in an effort to bring some additional resources to the attention of my distance learning students.

I think the first of these reasons still holds true for me as I tend now to use my blog as a place to try out ideas - and to keep a record of them - so that at the end of the year I can reflect on how my plans turn out.

I now include a Twitter feed on my blog which adds a bit more of the helping/informing dimension as the feed is from key players in the health and social care sector and often has some great links to articles and websites which I think students might find useful in their studies.

There's a bit of exhibitionism in the mix as I recently added a Flickr feed. And I do love it when I get feedback :) - this is one way of linking into my Personal Learning Network.

Almost never is this a way of passing the time for me as I find it difficult to find time to blog.

What are your reasons for blogging?