Friday, 11 July 2014

From Toning Out Lectures to Slurping Up MOOCs: My Modern Learning Journey

For the most part, I hated being a university student. I had trouble finding relevance in what I was learning, and as an English major (with a minor in Religious Studies), I found myself laden down with dense texts that I never actually absorbed or appreciated. I felt constantly overwhelmed and, if I couldn't do something perfectly, I stopped trying. (Now, however, I'm trying to let go of some of that lifelong perfectionism and live by a new motto: "Don't worry, be crappy". Basically, I'm trying not to worry about being perfect. Instead, I'm willing to put things out there and risk being "crappy". Hence, my return to blogging, which, as a reflective practice, is a work in progress!)

As an adult learner, I've approached my learning very differently. I particularly enjoy online learning and reading and watching course material at my own pace (and as many times as I want!). I have taken five online Additional Qualifications or Additional Basic Qualification courses in order to increase my status in the Ontario College of Teachers. I carefully selected courses that I thought would be relevant and interesting to me. Most of them were. I particularly enjoyed my Integrating Information Communication Technology specialist (I found the third course to be the most challenging and interesting, as many of my classmates were quite experienced and inspired me) and my Language Additional Basic Qualification.

I regularly read books that are relevant to my profession, and take part online and in-person professional development opportunities that appeal to me. Lately, I've found that I've so totally immersed myself in technology in education that I have become very comfortable with what is out there right now. I need to challenge myself to look at new things or look at things from a new perspective. However, taking time to read not-quite-education-but-still-related-to-my-teaching books (stay tuned for a Disney post, as well as posts about brains and motivation) has been the most inspiring of all. I get really excited when I learn about or make connections between different fields and ideas. I love talking, listening and reading work by passionate people who don't necessarily share my profession, but share some ideals or passions. I also love hearing about things from a totally new point of view and having my thinking challenged.

Last summer, I participated in a MOOC (massive open online course) through Stanford University (la-dee-dah!). "How to Learn Math" with Jo Boaler was great, but things got busy and I didn't devote as much time as I would have liked to completing all modules. Once my classmates had moved on, it was difficult to find the motivation to read old (sometimes abandoned) message boards and participate after the fact.

This summer, I've committed to another Stanford Online course, "International Women's Health and Human Rights"with Anne Firth Murray. It started today. I remembered that it started today at about 10 p.m. It's now 3:14 a.m. (Pi Time!) and I'm only going to head to bed because I'm playing with some kids in the morning and want to be able to give them some good energy! It's awesome so far. I'm totally "in my element" (thank you, Sir Ken) and "flowing". Time has flown and I'm so excited.


  1. Hello there!! I have accessed your blog from the link you posted on Anne Firth Murray's course. I have a blog too at - or Mind Angles.

    I hope to read some of your posts and have bookmarked this page. However, there is now so much to do online I am beginning to feel pressed for time!!

  2. Hi Sally,

    I'm sorry I didn't see and respond to this sooner! I've laid off the MOOC a bit as life got pretty busy this summer. Are you still enjoying it?