Week2 abruptly demanded I learn. Faster. I didn’t react that well and felt quite stressed with the sudden loss of spare time. I tried out stuff like how to use Google Scholar, and which web browser would work best with the OU site. IE10 is the only one that allows easy cut and paste, Chrome is fine, Firefox keeps nagging me to update plugins. I love being nagged. Don’t we all ?

I tried to use the live chat software called Elluminate, and that seems like it could be very useful, especially for PM-ing. I got a gaming headset which works great, but the Elluminate software creates a high-pitched whine when it starts up. Hmm. I also tried to catch up with the stuff I had missed in week1.

I got my first experience of how tech-learning can go awry. My peers and I logged on to chat to our tutor, who was unfortunately still stuck in traffic, having been diverted into a jammed single track road because of a flood.  So he didn’t make it. And there was no 3G coverage. And the dog ate his iPad. 🙂 Obviously that last part is a joke. Actually, it must have been very frustrating for him. I think we all know how frustrating it is when plans go wrong and time is wasted, and even more so when it is a labour-saving piece of tech that causes it. Tech-disfunctional non-learning ? TDNL. My first acronym – see, I’m really getting into this eh ?

I watched a lecture by John Seely Brown about group learning. Click here to download the transcript. 2a_JSBrown_Transcript I say lecture, it was more like an informal impromptu monologue. However, it raised my awareness of why it is so important to have group work;  some time for students to test their understanding of the “new” by discussing it, developing it, applying it, etc. They can develop, consolidate, and deepen their understanding this way. Well, maybe, if they aren’t just taking the group time to log onto Facebook on their iPhone. Technology distracts from learning ?

I also looked at a paper about how culture, pedagogy and technology intertwine. It was interesting but I felt it missed out the other vital ingredient in the mix; subject matter.

There was also a look at community participation through a website about snails. The idea being that most people can see the difference in snails so they can record this and the data can be used to show changes in climate; snail markings are, apparently, related to climate. Who knew ? Snails tan. Well, sort of.

In all this looking at group stuff, I saw a few problems. Personalities dominate and clash, shy people don’t participate; individuals are often competitive, not co-operative; grading on a curve induces competition within a group; people don’t have common goals; groups can be lead astray by an individual and become unproductive; hidden agendas create conflict which can remain unresolved if the group is immature; we want people to agree with us, rather than have a conflict, so often a wide range of ideas are not heard in the group. How can these problems be overcome ? I think that’s my role – the teacher.