Friday, July 31, 2009

Engaged and inspired....

Yesterday was an inspiring day. I came away from work refreshed and energised, even though it had been a long day. The reason was because my colleague, Vickel Narayan and I were privileged to work with a visiting group of academic faculty (international languages, and accountancy departments) from Shandong University (China). They have 2 weeks in New Zealand, much of which they are spending on an intensive Professional Development course at Unitec NZ, which is ranging in subject matter from, to name but a few, facilitating large classes, assessment, and eLearning.

I went to see another colleague, Ed Flagg beforehand to get an overview as to what our visitors might be hoping to do, and consequently planned a hands-on, interactive session where they would enrol into a Ning community and follow up with a Web 2.0 web quest (using resources we had hosted in Moodle).

The group from the very beginning were engaged, enthusiastic, and willing to try anything. They all signed up for their Ning, took photos with the laptops they were using them and added them to their profiles, participated in discussion forum, and made blog postings. The Web 2.0 quest involved pairs or groups of three choosing a Web 2.0 tool they were interested in and knew little or nothing about, and then doing some research in the Internet to find out what the tool was. The next stage was to think how learners might use the tool and how it may enhance learning and encourage active engagement. Finally, the group presented their findings and shared their ideas, before identifying some opportunities as well as some issues...and were overall incredibly positive. At one point, the three accountancy teachers, who had never heard of virtual worlds before, but chose it as the tool to research and think about for their teaching, became really excited. They now have plans to set up their own virtual business, and run simulations and role plays there! It was witness people really engage with ideas, and even though they face far greater barriers that the privileged folks here, they instead chose to dream a little. It was a joy. I came away inspired :-)

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