Unitec’s Diana Ayling (pictured) spoke at an Elearning Community workshop about an online community she’s involved with which focuses on teaching and learning. These are my brief reflections on her presentation.
Diana and audience members identified some challenges for members of a teaching and learning community:
- Teachers take time to develop a voice online because creating and managing content is a complex skill set. There is a growing need for teachers to develop ‘real-world’ technology skills such as working with social network technology. We need to ‘go to where the learners are’ so need to move beyond the institutional Learning Management System.
- Teachers have varying levels of resilience – when something goes wrong such as a technical problem, some are inclined to give up straight away while others see it as only a temporary setback.
- There is a tendency to form splinter groups, as some are more comfortable with interacting a small group. This may have the effect of decreasing overall activity and interaction.
- Data protection and copyright are ongoing issues as teachers move to more open technologies such as social network tools.
- Online safety and privacy is an issue for both teachers and learners. Separating the personal and professional online presence is complicated but necessary.
- When working with teachers as community members, we should not make assumptions about their level of technical skills – patronising them is a real turn-off.
- Finding time to contribute actively to multiple communities and online spaces is difficult for busy teachers. RSS is a great tool for managing all the sources you read, but it doesn’t really help with contributing through writing.