While I am finishing up a master’s degree in adult education with a certificate in distance education, I am still working full-time as a business administrator. Though my life at work takes place primarily in front of two large LCD displays, the organization itself has yet to take full advantage of the opportunity for an extended reach available through the use of Web 2.0 technologies. From a personal standpoint, the picture is much different, but it wasn’t always that way. I remember my first experience with myspace several years ago. My kids set up an account for me, but I could never figure out what to do with it other than keeping an eye on my kids’ myspace accounts! Becoming an online learner changed all that!
Now I use a variety of Web 2.0 tools to varying degrees for both social and academic purposes. I connect with family, friends, and peers on facebook and Skype while I use Google+ and hangouts as more of a professional connection. I have developed what I hope is a healthy profile and network on Linkedin where I contribute content and participate in discussions in several professional groups. After a year of debate, I also started this blog a few months ago. While it is far more time-consuming than I ever imagined, I have found the opportunities for and benefits from self-reflection that seem to accompany blogging to be invaluable. Actually, starting this month, I am a paid blogger as one of the new student bloggers for Penn State’s World Campus!
In addition to learning online through World Campus, I am also currently participating – albeit not as actively as I would like – in a MOOC (massive open online course) called Change: Education, Learning, and Technology. The primary methods of information sharing and interaction (that I have discovered) for participants are Twitter, personal blogs, Moodlerooms, Google groups, and Google +. Compiling all of the blog posts with the #change11 hashtag in one central location allows participants to direct their own learning through the selection of threads that are most interesting to them.
I chose a course on Web 2.0 tools because I see interaction as the fundamental component of teaching and learning online – interaction with the material, interaction with the instructor/facilitator, and interaction among peers – and I believe that Web 2.0 tools facilitate and support that interaction as the methods for connecting. I am looking forward to learning more about Web 2.0 tools and their capabilities, but I also want to understand their links to pedagogical principles. When the decision is up to me, I want to be sure to select the optimal tool in support of the learning objectives.