Salmon; Where am I at?

As previously discussed, Salmon’s Five Stage model is one that supports online learning. It is essentially a learning tool that helps online learners learn about online learning. It’s not nearly as complicated as I just made it out to be, though!

Salmon’s hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Access and Motivation: when students are welcomed and introduced to the platform, face-to-face workshops, online familiarisation and activities.
  2. Online Socialisation: introductions online and discussions
  3. Information Exchange: everyone has their own group discussion area. They have access to background materials and discussions.
  4. Knowledge and Construction: promotes experimental learning through interaction. Group members switch roles
  5. Development: students come out of their group discussions and debrief on their lessons and experiences.

I believe that at this stage in the unit I am currently on Stage Three. This is because online discussions are being broken down into relevant groups and information is shared and discussed.

Being able to see clearly what stage I am currently at, and comparing what I have done and learnt throughout the unit so far, along side a hierarchy is interesting to see how far I have come. It seems like such a long time ago that I was scared about taking on a daunting online subject, thinking that these 5 stages would be much more complicated than first though. Now I am halfway through the stages and have come to realise that this is not a scary or difficult way of being part of a discussion or unit, but it is actually far more interesting and exciting.

Incursions/Excursions and Community of Practice

I don’t think I’ve ever met a student who doesn’t get excited about being part of an incursion or excursion. Children need to be exposed to these novelties, so as to keep school interesting and stimulating. Having the chance to see or experience these lessons are a great way to ensure they are fully involved in their own learning.
Last semester whilst on prac with a Kindergarten class, they attended one excursion to the Sydney Wildlife Park and had two very different incursions- all in the space of one term! Being such a small school, these children were lucky enough to be able to have these fantastic and exciting experiences. For each experience there were lessons that followed, to ensure they were linked to the learning the children had done, so as not to make them irrelevant to what they were doing in the classroom.
My favourite memory was watching one little boy who is severely autistic, he would usually only ever sit by himself and play with a toy car. The teachers were very worried as he did not cope very well when things happened that were out of routine. However, the school had invited the funniest, most entertaining Science show, for them to watch. This little boy loved it so much that he had to sit at the very front of the class so he didn’t miss a thing! He was still laughing at the jokes three days later. I think these experiences are extremely important for students as they are able to be exposed to things that are stimulating in a different way than usual.

As teachers we all share a community of practice. Being part of the ACU School of Education domain. Through this we are all able to gather together- be it in face-to-face tutorials, lectures or meetings, or online through blogging, LEO or Facebook forums we are able to partake in joint discussions and activities. We are able to share our experiences and resources to develop a repertoire.

Classroom Layouts

My understanding of the classroom has changed greatly. All through my schooling we had the same classroom layouts, with table groups of four or six and a small section to sit on the floor. The walls were generally decorated with our work or resources. Looking back, the best thing about these classrooms was that they had huge open windows, so there was always lots of natural lighting coming in.
It wasn’t until my first block prac that I really saw a different kind of classroom. At first I was skeptical but eventually I grew to see how it was of great benefit to the students. This classroom had a large variety of seating options for the students. They were able to choose their own seat, and had to change every lesson so they were not sitting next to the same people. They had beanbags with trays to do their work on, short tables so they could sit cross-legged on the floor and work at the table, tall bar tables and chairs and only one or two of the ‘regular’ tables you’d see in a classroom. At first I questioned weather or not this would work, as the class was always very chatty. I figured letting them sit next to their friends all the time would be a huge distraction for them. I soon realised that they were making better choices about who to sit next to. They didn’t always sit next to their friends, but they would chose to sit next to people they knew were quiet, or those who could possibly help them with their work.
This class was also given the opportunity to sit outside for one lesson a day. There was a small, undercover area, with fake grass and bean bags. The students loved working here as they were able to be in a different environment. At first they were over excited, but as the weeks went on and the students became use to sitting outside, they were far more productive, as these lessons were usually at the end of the day when they would usually be acting crazy or half asleep at their desks. It was really interesting to see the different learning environments just within the one class.

Of course, the use of brightly coloured walls that are plastered with student’s work and other display are extremely beneficial. However, I have seen so many classrooms where the work is out of date, or falling off. I think if the class were to maintain these displays like they do at the beginning of the year, then it would make for a better learning environment. If the walls are looking sloppy, how are we to expect students to be able to sit there and do their best work if the teacher hasn’t done theirs?
I believe it is extremely beneficial to give students more of a role in deciding how their classrooms are set out, or what they look like. Students who get to chose their seating arrangement, once the novelty has worn off, are more likely to make better choices. Teachers, more often than not, will put students work up on the walls and chose what goes where. However, I think it may be beneficial for the class to sit down and have a discussion about what they think the classroom should look like. After all, they are also sitting in it all day! The teacher may find that each group of students have different ideas about what will be more suited to them. Giving students options is, generally, a fantastic way to run a classroom.

CORE TEXT 1A: Salmon’s 5-stage model

I gained a lot from reading about how other people can be affected by what you write online. It was in some ways comforting that other people are as nervous or can misinterpret something that has been written by someone else on the online environment. This was comforting as it ensured me that there were others out there who were ‘walking on egg shells’ so as not to accidentally offend or give people the wrong impression. I also thought it was extremely beneficial to know and learn about how we should all interact online. Remembering that some people may accidentally perceive what you have said in the wrong way can also mean that a comment you took the wrong way may not have been intended as such. This text was a great way to simply outline the ways that netiquette are important and should be valued.

The concept of the 5 stages is really important in the online learning environment, as it is a way of ensuring structure to the unit. Having only done one online unit before, which was not set out or supported very well, it was great to read the5 stages and know that there was a very important method to online learning. Knowing that there is a step-by-step structure to how things are done, and why, has reassured me that there is a huge amount of knowledge to gain from learning in this environment. I enjoy looking through the online forums, as it is a great support for questions I have, as I soon find out that a handful of other people have had the same question, and it has been answered by both other students and the unit facilitator.

CORE TEXT 2B: What is a blog?

This text was extremely helpful in confirming what I believed a blog to be. Through using social media and other websites I have come in contact with quite a few blogs already (admittedly, mostly food and travel blogs). Even though I already had a relatively sound understanding of what a blog was and why people use them, I was able to gain further knowledge thanks to the use of the large variety of definitions that were given. Having read definitions from different people’s points of view or what they use them for, it was able to broaden my idea of what a blog is, and open my eyes to the fact that there is more to blogging than taking photos of food and telling your friends about a restaurant you visited. From there, I took this information and searched for some other blogs which would be relevant to my future career as a teacher, and those that are useful to me as a student and pre-service teacher. I can definitely see the benefits to blogging and reading other people blogs in my field.

CORE TEXT 2A: What is a PLN anyway?

This text was such an easy read which was a great way to explain what a PLN is. From what I understand from the reading, a PLN is a Personal Learning Network. These are extremely important in many professional fields, as it is vital to keep in touch an up to date with the most recent findings and information. A PLN is a way in which people, especially in the Education field, are able to share their findings and experiences with each other, helping others to grow and always update their knowledge and references on different areas of education.
I found the way in which Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto discussed the different ways in which her PLN had evolved over her career, really interesting and exciting to see where it can go next. It has opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many ways in which I can gain and share information that I find and learn myself through my time as a student, and then as a teacher in my future teaching career.