In order to set out on a path of transformation, you must have a goal to aspire too. The goal shouldn’t be so far out-of-reach as to be unreasonable, but just far enough to be a real accomplishment.
A few years ago, I initially had one goal, “become a teacher”.
Most of my subsequent goals have been short-term assignment-based goals. Early on in the process of ‘becoming a teacher’ I realized that to keep motivated, I also needed to find a way to make it fun. Which begged the question: how can four years of online learning be made ‘fun’?
My University has a great online learning environment, Moodle, but it is a world away from sitting in a room with 40 other people and having casual chat about the course content. At one stage I did feel isolated and unmotivated, so I set myself the task of transforming my study from an isolated process of learning – to one that was social and supportive. There have been periods over the course of my study where I have been out of contact with other students for weeks (internet malfunctions), and other times when I have been speaking to them almost every day (collaborative projects).
It’s true, I admit it: studying online is not the most social of learning methods.
Adopting a network of study-buddies, from strangers online, takes work, but has been so worthwhile. Over time, my study group has developed from answering questions on the online forum and the occasional emailed query, to Skype messages, lengthy emails and even lengthier Skype calls. Out of a study network, a social and supportive learning community sprouted, a PLN even.
On the outset of final year, I’m still a student, but also on the cusp of joining the teaching family, so this year is the final phase of transformation from student to teacher – and it seems like the right time to actively seek out a teaching support network, people who are willing to share ideas that will ease me out of my student mindset into a teacher mindset. I’m still in Stage 1, but have found some fabulous people already (some who are wonderful enough to comment on my blog and if you click on their names in the comments you can view their fantastic blogs). There are also loads of other people who don’t comment on my blog who I follow on Twitter or via their blogs because they generously share their ideas about teaching and learning with anyone who has internet access – being professional role models from a distance, so to speak.
My goals: to listen, learn, blog, and adopt a ‘balanced’ PLN.