Monday, October 29, 2007

Engaging The Digital Learner

Last Saturday I had the privilege of participating in at workshop at the Burridge campus of NSCC in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Through NSCC's Community College Education Diploma Programme (CCEDP) new faculty and professional support staff hires attend a one week Foundations In Adult Education course in August if each year. Then at the end of October after several weeks in the classroom they gather again for a weekend of reflection and networking. This year several colleagues and myself were invited to this weekend to deliver an "Engaging the Digital Learner" workshop.

I believe that the future of education lies in the use of social media and the development of learning and learner-centric customized learning environments controlled by the learner - in other words the personal learning environment or PLE.

The team was led by my friend and colleague Carolyn (Randommind), and consisted of her husband (and my colleague) Chris (Bitdepth), and my colleagues Chris (The Path Is Too Deep) and Lorraine. Oh and me too! We are all graduates of CCEDP and all currently work at NSCC. I am so fortunate to work with such an amazing group of people. I am truly blessed.

Here's a picture of the group in front of the campus:

The workshop was conducted in a round robin or "cracker barrel" format with small groups moving from station to station. we looked at blogs, wikis, podcasts, Facebook and Second Life as educational tools and technologies for engaging today's (and tomorrow's generation of digital learners.

The participants were engaged and enthusiastic, exploring the tools and technologies presented to them, asking lots of relevant questions and actively using the tools presented. I'd spend time describing the experience, but Carolyn, Chris and Chris (I love Chris;s term - "Peeriority Complex") did a much better job on their blogs. Suffice to say that for me the whole event was another one of those "AHA!" moments that force you to look at what it is you are doing. I found the whole experience to be very profound and I was so glad that I was able to be a part of it.

I think what I got most out of this experience was the confirmation that social media is the future of education - the suggestions and enthusiasm of our audience of mostly faculty confirmed that for me. they were engaged and thinking of ways to use the content we facilitated. A workshop wiki, websuperhero was created by the workshop members (check it out) and there is still material being added to it. Many of the audience were asking about how they could use tools and technologies to assist learners, to provide them with choices and as a way to deliver resources and to gather additional resources from learners - the creation of custom learning environments - can you say PLE?

Lastly I want to thank Claudine, George, Libby, Michelle, and Bobbi and all the folks at Organizational Learning for what they do day in and day out to help make all of us better at what we do and make NSCC such an exciting, vibrant place to work at. Thanks all!!

(Photo - "The Team" by Chris Campbell)

Check out Chris Campbell's pictures on Flickr - they are amazing...


randommind said...

Well said, Ian!! We definitely have a gem in the college & that's CCEDP. I remember the first year I spent in the classroom and it was tough tough tough. CCEDP gives us an instant network of professionals who are facing the same issues and challenges. It gives us someone to go to when we need help or want to share an idea. I didn't realize it until afterward but 4 of the 5 of us who co-facilitated Digital Leanrers attended CCEDP together. Here we are years later working on projects, still sharing ideas & the occasional bad joke. Bob, if you're listening, you know I'm talking about you!

Thanks again, Ian, for being a part of the gang. I meant it when I said that I'm lucky to have the friends that I do, and you're at the top of the list. :-)

Ian H. MacLeod said...

Thanks Carolyn, for including me in this amazing experience, for putting up with my bad jokes, for being my friend, and for being so passionate about what you do - it makes all of us so much better...