My name is Yvonne Leahy and I have been involved in the training sector since 2000 and I work for Cork Education and Training Board where I delivery modules on IT, business, administration and soft skills. I completed my BA in Training and Education with NUI Galway and fell in love with the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) module. Most of the modules I deliver are Microsoft and office related and as I love education and technology it felt like the perfect match.
I am hoping that I will learn new skills and knowledge to enhance my teaching and to gain the confidence in implementing technology in the classroom. I am also hoping that through my experience and previous education that I will be able to contribute positively to the class and I look forward to learning from my peers.
For each module in Year 1 I incorporated weekly reflections using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle along with submitted assessments and an overall conclusion.
This model can enhance the reflection by triggering questions during the process. I have found that it not only facilitates more in-depth reflections but also gives structure and guidance. Going off on a tangent is easy and having structured headings helped me to keep on track (most of the time I hope).
Description - what happened Feelings - how do you feel about the experience Evaluation - did things go well Analyse - can you make sense of the experience Conclusion - summary or reframe Action Plan - what will I do next
The University of Northampton Office of Learning and Teaching (2010) How to write a reflective account http://pdp.northampton.ac.uk/PG_Files/pg_reflect2a.htm Accessed 28/12/2015.
eLearning has traditionally been associated with distance learning but eLearning today ‘exploits interactive technologies and communication systems to improve the learning experience’ (DfES, 2003). This can occur in the classroom, blended learning or where delivery is entirely online. Whilst I agree that these technologies will assist in providing a more conducive learning environment I feel they will not replace the lecturer (not just yet anyway!).
A programme I have been involved with in the past is eLearning at the Libraries. The concept is to facilitate lifelong learning where learning is brought closer to the learner. Learners are provided with workbooks, CD’s with interactive learning on basic ICT skills. It involves blended learning with one two hour workshop per week for 16 weeks. An assessment is carried out towards the end which is accredited by FETAC. The learner profile is adult learners with basic computers skills. Initially the learners are slow to use the CD’s at home but as their confidence builds over the weeks they take responsibility for their own learning. However, this is not a natural progression for all and is principally facilitated by the tutor who scaffolds the learning, similar to Vygotsky’s ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development).
Other learners exhibited a behaviourist approach where they expect the tutor to ‘spoon-feed them’ as this is their perception of learning. This again identifies the importance of the role of the tutor in order to create a more constructive environment. The success of this programme has been recognised by AONTAS where it was shortlisted for a STAR Award in 2014. The following is a video we put together to capture the positive impact it has on the learners and how the course has changed their lives. This programme demonstrates how eLearning and technology can benefit diverse learners with little or no ICT skills.
Department for Education and Skills. (2003a). Towards a unified e-learning strategy. Consultation document. London: HMSO.
The following video discusses my hopes, fears and expectation for this course. My main fear is questioning my ability to attain the level required and my time management skills. My expectations are high based on the excellent first impressions during the induction day. My hopes are to enhance my skills as an educator by creating a more conducive learning environment and to progress my own career or perhaps even change it.
Professional and Personal Development
Why did you decide to apply for this Masters?
I have been involved in the training/education sector since 2000 and began my career by completing the JEB Teacher/Trainer Diploma in IT. However, as the years progressed I felt that in order for my own career to develop I would need to gain more substantial knowledge and skills. As a result I completed my BA in Training and Education with NUI Galway. One of the modules we completed was VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) which I must say was one of my favourite modules over the entire four years. It instilled an interest in me regarding the combination of technology and education. I particularly enjoyed the work of Gilly Salmon and eTivities. My background is in adult education and many of the modules I have delivered over the years are technology related i.e. Microsoft products. Therefore, I have always had an interest in technology but do not possess the skills or confidence to combine both these elements to create an interactive and conducive learning environment. The reason I applied for the Masters is to fulfil this interest but to gain further insight, understanding and skills to implement this into my own practice. I also resonate with the work of Marc Prensky where education is not designed for today’s learners and want to pursue this further. The Masters will enable me to do this.
How do you see this Masters programme assisting in your professional and/or career development?
I feel that the Masters programme will enhance my career by equipping me with new knowledge and skills that I can apply to my work. I feel that the VLE module was just dipping my toes in the water whereas the Masters will enable me to dive right in and I am excited about putting it into practice. I feel that the Masters will enable me to concentrate on the area I am most passionate about while receiving a recognised qualification. For example, the assessment module will be analysing assessment from an eLearning perspective which I feel is fundamental in this sector.
I have no concrete practice in designing or implementing eLearning activities. Therefore, managing the design, development, implementation of a number of appropriate eLearning resources will be instrumental in bridging the gap in my knowledge. I am looking forward to learning about eLearning technologies and integrating them into my own classroom. I am also hoping that it will open up new career opportunities for me in the eLearning sector or perhaps a progression towards a PhD. Furthermore, completing my research project in Year 2 will be paramount and I feel that it will give me the opportunity to learn, grow and reflect.
How do you see this Masters programme helping you become a more effective professional in the future?
I envisage the Masters in making a positive contribution to me personally and professionally by giving me the confidence and knowledge to apply these new skills. Elements such as time management, creativity, project management, innovation and improving my writing skills will also contribute to being a more effective professional. Reflecting on my progress both positively and critically will enable me to grow. Moreover, learning from my peers and colleagues will certainly enhance this.
My action plan is to implement the skills I have gained from the MSc into my own practice. For example, monitoring the Horizon Reports to keep up to date with trends, continue updating the Tech Trends section of the eportfolio and grounding the design of courses in theory e.g. Chickering and Gamson, Gilly Salmon Five Stage Model etc.
I managed to learn some basic HTML skills when completing the eportfolio. However, I plan to carry out a short coding course through either Coursera or edX during the Summer months so that I will feel more confident. This may be a skill I can in the future introduce into my own practice.
I am also considering completing a PhD or EdD with a focus on eLearning and adult education. However, I plan to take a break next year to focus on family and work enabling time to develop some research ideas.
Here is one of my favourite videos with regards to education and technology and why I need to change and develop my teaching methods.