Today’s post comes from Hayden Shaw, from the perspective of an adult learner undertaking postgraduate study at The Mind Lab by Unitec.
Being a Student Again – Hayden Shaw
Earlier this year I was looking for some professional learning opportunities that I could do to keep myself update and current in education. At the time a friend of mine had just started the Mindlab Post-grad Certificate in Applied Digital and Collaborative Learning and he only had good things to say about it. When I took the big step of signing up for it I was apprehensive about committing to attending a weekly class and completing the required readings and assignments in addition to working full time with a young family to juggle.
Being back in class was a strange feeling for me. It felt odd to be the student again listening to the teacher and taking part in learning activities. The teachers of the course led content driven discussions based mainly on readings and clips shared with us on the student portal. This flipped approach worked well as it meant we could look at content for the upcoming week or get ahead (if time wasn’t in such short supply). It’s fair to say I have been a week to week student. I can admit to showing up from time to time and not knowing that much about what was being discussed or applied, but I get through. The class is made up of a diverse bunch of teachers/learners who come from vastly different educational backgrounds. The primary, secondary and tertiary sectors are all well represented, which has opened my eyes up to what is happening in other areas of education.
One difference from my last experience of studying was the amount of practical hands on learning involved. Whether it be learning new teaching techniques or playing with new technology, it’s fair to say my brain had a healthy injection of new information. As a learner I have enjoyed the challenge of new learning and found many of the topics useful when thinking about my teaching and leadership for the future. From google cardboard, turning a toy horse into a musical instrument, to playing board games, the variety of new ideas we have been exposed to has been awesome. During one lesson the group I was working with created a stop motion movie of penguins putting together a hamburger as a means of
showing distributed cognition in action. I loved the play aspect of the course and I often go away from our classes thinking how I could bring this into my classroom teaching or introduce it to others in my school.
I’m the first to get worried and stressed about assessments. The thought of sitting down and getting through piles of readings and answering an essay question has never excited me. But I must say that I have been surprised by my level of engagement in our assessments so far. Having assessments that relate directly to my own practice and knowing that engaging in them will directly benefit my day to day work has been so much better than dealing with hypothetical scenarios. The other interesting part of our assessments is the flexibility to choose between writing a traditional essay and putting a video together. Having chosen the video option for all but one of my assessments thus far I think I chose the more time consuming option. However, I’m prepared to keep challenging myself to go with this method as I can see some real benefit to me as teacher and leader in a school in being able to produce short, powerful movies that get a point across. The assessment is really a chance to see how well I can present information as opposed to seeing how much learning has actually taken place.
I must admit I have been far more actively engaged in the learning process over the past two months than I ever have been before. The learner that I have been since starting the Mindlab Post-grad course is nothing like how I was when I was at school or university. For some reason I’m prepared to go the extra mile to find out more information. In many ways I’ve become the learner I would like my students to be. I have a renewed interest in learning and now my challenge is to try and make learning more enjoyable and rewarding for the students at my school. I have also really enjoyed working with my fellow students. The conversations about learning and how to do the right thing by our students has been thought provoking. I have gained a great appreciation for what my colleagues do in the primary and tertiary sectors. As a teacher I couldn’t have asked for a better professional learning opportunity and would thoroughly recommend this course as something that all teachers should be signing up to.