A Trip Across the City!

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For what it’s worth, I found it hard to find a free image of businesswomen shaking hands (clarification: with their faces showing, not just generic hands!). Make of that what you will, and take into account the fact that I spent less than 6 minutes on the endeavor, but it did remind me of Women Laughing Alone with Salad.  

Anyway! My stock photo woes aside, this week is busy busy busy. Yesterday, I took a trip over to Mary Immaculate College to carry out my interview for TW5212. I interviewed an educational technologist, who actually did this MA about 6 years ago! He informed me that there are a few past-MA students working in educational technology over there, which is awesome. 

The interview was a fantastic experience. I am not going to lie, when I first heard about this assignment last semester, I recoiled at the thought of A) tracking down a stranger and asking them to give me an hour of their time, and B) actually interviewing them in person. The horror! I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I decided to contact my interviewee as my summer project (an online resource for UL students) has deepened my interest in third level education and technology. 

Trolls and Technology…

In 2014, I went on Erasmus to Norway for 5 months. At that point, I was used to technology in college in the form of Sulis, emails and those headsets we used in Spanish labs in first year! Everything in Norway was done with technology. In some of my classes, instead of putting up our hands and answering questions, we would log into a website and type our opinions via our smartphones. I believe it was a function of the university’s Learning Management System, Fronter. Which, by the way, I can pronounce in an impeccable Norwegian accent. 

Many of the business classes were simply too large to fit in one hall, so half of the class would sit in a lecture hall with the lecturer, and the other half would sit in the hall next door and watch via videolink. When it came to exams, we used our own laptops! We had to download software that locked us into the test, and wrote our essays from our own devices. I learned to just shrug and think “Okay, so this is how we do things here” a lot. 

Times are a-changin’…

All this to say, I am fascinated with how technology is creeping into universities. Speaking to my interviewee, it became obvious that the field has exploded with interest in the past 4 or 5 years, and that it is rapidly expanding. He provided me with so much insight into how we can effectively communicate with clients, and the challenges that we can face when bringing technology to reluctant users.

He also gave me a lot of think about, software wise. He mentioned some great open-source resources, such as eXeLearning which is another option to look at for the summer project! 

The rest of the week…

I am hyper-focused on getting my RM6011 proposal finished. I have the bones of it complete, and in my head know where I am going. The biggest challenge ahead is redesigning my interface designs! I am happy with the specifications I have already, but I need to create them in Illustrator, where I think they’ll ‘look the part’ more. 

Until next time! 

Virtual team assignment: submission time

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On Monday, we said goodbye to our virtual team assignment!

In the end, despite all my hopeful thinking at the beginning, I would say we had engagement from 1 of the 4 American students. Those aren’t very impressive numbers, but I’ve learned from this experience that I can’t expect everyone to prioritize work in the same way. I was lucky to have Toni on board! She copied and pasted all our Facebook messages onto documents for Sulis, as in the end I don’t think any  communication took place on there. The French students were thankfully very involved, and finished their translation with very little trouble.

With everything said and done, I believe Toni, Caroline and myself managed the assignment pretty well. While we always kept the others in the loop, we ensured that we were picking up any work that was leftover. I found that towards the end, the updating of the document got a little confusing. We were uploading new versions of the Word document and sometimes were unsure which was the most up to date version. I don’t know the best way this could have been managed… perhaps by just one person carrying out the edits? Or emailing documents may have been more beneficial at this point. I liked that we waited for each others opinion on making changes at the end and were able to talk through them logically, without wasting time.

So, I now know nearly everything there is to know about Google Slides! I had used it for group projects before, but there were loads of features I hadn’t seen before. For example, I think it’s pretty handy that you can search for images from within the app, and even filter through them (see image 1).

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Image 1

Another assignment ticked off the list… hard to believe we only have around 5 weeks left!

 

Transitioning to blended learning

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It’s funny, when I was first thinking of applying to this MA programme (around this time last year, actually!), I was set on staying at home in West Cork and working completely online. This was entirely for practical reasons. By the time the course rolled around though, I managed to secure part-time work in Limerick which allowed me to move back and study on campus.

Having attended nearly all of my classes on campus last semester, I was really comfortable with that setting. I enjoyed being there for the lectures, and it was great to really feel a part of such a close-knit, intelligent, optimistic (usually!) group of people.  That camaraderie can be so helpful when the stressful part of the semester hits. So when the timetable came out this semester and I realised I would only be able to attend 1 out of 4 modules on-campus, I really had to adjust my ideas about how I interact with the course.

The good:

  • The flexibility of this course means I can easily continue working, which I’m really grateful for
  • I was never very good for getting involved in the online discussions and would feel a little intimidated by the idea, but this semester I’m pushing myself to jump right in
  • I listened to a podcast the other day on the couch with a mug of tea and some biscuits, what’s not to like?

and the strange:

  • I always feel like I’m catching up, even though I’m generally looking at the resources as soon as they’re up
  • It would be nice to have someone to immediately turn to when I’m working with the new software applications
  • In Weeks 1 & 2  I felt very Not Involved. However, I took a step back, got myself organised and I’m feeling more of a balance moving into the third week

It’s an adjustment, but one that I think can only be for the best. Last semester I had to adjust from undergraduate to postgraduate studies, and this semester I’m learning what it really means to be in charge of my own studies. It’ll be grand!