Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who I am and why I'm here

I am interested in using online and blended approaches in teaching and learning for people wanting to master new, practical and recreational skills - I guess you could call them hobbies, but they have the potential to turn into money earning or life changing activities. some of the things I have been involved in that I would like to explore include amateur winemaking, beekeeping, coffee roasting, environmental monitoring etc.

I have previously enrolled in a Coursera MOOC, on data analysis, but found that I did not have the time available to devote to it. I find that, even with forums, discussion boards etc, it is difficult for me to remain engaged. For me, online learning environments that include synchronous components - e.g. by including webinars, Skype chats or Google Hangouts are far more successful; especially when blended with a face-to-face component.

My partner Josephine ( who is also on this course) and I have recently completed a year long course in basic beekeeping. The course lasted a whole year, and included almost every aspect of basic beekeeping, from building the hive through to harvesting honey, disease recognition and feeding the bees throughout the winter. What made the programme successful was that included in the course fee was the materials to build our own hives, together with a starter nucleus of bees. Another source of learning has been the local bee club, which has monthly meetings with intensely practical instructional sessions.

I am interested in seeing how much and to what extent this sort of practical, hands-on and effective teaching and learning can be approximated using online pedagogy including scenario planning.