Since I started to take part in the connectivist MOOC #etmooc my awareness of the way that I use technology to connect with both my peers and my learners has increased greatly. This week I have been particularly aware of the role that social media plays in supporting the progression of learners from Further Education to Higher Education. As I teach sixth formers, here in the UK it is a particularly important time for our second year students as they have just applied for university and are beginning to receive interview offers from their chosen institutions.
At the start of the week a learner who was in my tutorial group last year approached me in a corridor as she had just received an interview offer for a BA (Hons) Youth Work and Community Development course. As part of the interview process she has to read an academic paper and then write a essay question based on this and was unsure on how to approach this . Last week I became aware of the Open University’s academics blog where posts are published on the latest news stories and events in a variety of areas including childhood and youth studies. I tweeted out a link to this blog and I was sure that this would be a good place to start her research. The learner and I then used her twitter account to retrieve this tweet and to research the blog. As there was a post directly related to her interview question it provided a starting point for her research. The use of twitter and mobile phones meant that I could provide a spontaneous but substantial learning situation to a student when she approached me off the cuff.
Later that week I was able to use my LinkedIn account to support another learner who had received an interview offer for a graphic design degree at the University of Huddersfield. When studying at this university for my postgraduate teaching qualification I set up my own tuition business in order to supplement my income. To help me with the branding for the business I recruited a volunteer designer who happened to be a first year graphic student at the same institution. A few months after I met this students she added me on LinkedIn. As her profile contains a link to her portfolio I was able to forward this on to the student who has an interview for the same course so that he could see the standard of work expected and the type of projects that he would be expected to undertake on the course. I did not know this student personally as he is also in another tutors group but he approached me a few days later to thank me for the link as he had found it really useful.
These two experiences really increased my awareness of connectivist learning and how it relates to my own practice. Although I am aware that social media plays a huge role in my own CPD and in my personal life I hadn’t realised the impact it had on my own practice and how I use it to support my students learning.
Although I still feel on the sidelines with the #etmooc as I don’t have as much time as I’d like to read and comment on posts and tweets a week in I can already see the impact that it is having. I am a lot more reflective in my practice and have a greatly increased awareness of the tools that I am using and the way in which I am using them.