Laughter and red wine

Laughter and red wine are, as I see, the only answer to block 3. We have had a spirited crack at it but it has been at cost. I have had various moans about it off-blogg, but with the end in sight, I feel a blog entry is in order. First in true #h817lds style I will state some positive things

  1. I appreciate openness to improvement. Big cheers to my peers for encouraging and helpful comments. I need to continue to embrace being a learner and be open to input on how to improve my work.  I’ve appreciated how OpenDesignStudio has made it easy to view other’s work, comment and review comments.
  2. I have enjoyed getting to grips with google sites and may develop a real one for life outside work.  The use of the google site template as a shared workspace has been an informative experience, and once I got my head round the template, it’s proven to be a good way for us to record progress on activities and show our workings out.  (I know that designing a template like this would have taken hours.)
  3. we use office365 rather than Google for cloud email – I can see that google is not a bed of roses, and negotiating between different google identities can be a real pain for users – the google grass no longer looks quite as green
  4. reflecting on my early reaction to this block aka “how come my life has become hijacked by this study thing” has brought me to some useful conclusions about my general propensity to have a go at the near impossible. This week in different contexts I have not attended meetings as they were not priorities and I had too much to do. The world did indeed continue to spin, not doing things is clearly a good strategy when in overload.

Now things I have struggled with:

  1. Units of time: as a student I know that this course requires 14 hours per week. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I can only supply 12 hours. I tend to aim for Saturday and a few evenings in the week, with the odd day taken as annual leave for my sanity. My study week is front loaded, but my expectation is that I will deliver this over the week. Part of my reason for doing online learning lies in “flexibility”. My unit of work is a week. Now, put me in a team with others who have different study patterns (eg. work evenings, travel, have family to look after at weekends….) and then ask us to do tasks involving “agree” or “discuss” or “coordinate” and delays will be built in. If most of us are answerable to employers we don’t have the flexibility to get together at the same time. Consensus takes at least 24 hours. Multiple milestones as fractions of our standard time units (several milestones per week) add to the pressure.   We can’t always get on with individual tasks until group decisions are reached.   There are two net effects….you can end up making the team wait…you are forced for the sake of expedience to meet/work at times that do not suit.  This could perhaps be helped by
    • designing tasks with one milestone per week and
    • constructing  teams based on working patterns and common availability
  2. Start up time: it would have been easy to presume that part way through a module we know each other and can work out team roles easily.  But this wasn’t really the case – we were scattered and disorientated in MOOC, and like other teams we had not  even ‘seen’ some of our team members in previous forums.  By the time we had arranged our first meeting we needed to be off.
  3. the big picture: I had instruction overload without any increase in clarity, a video or online session recording would have helped. My questions where, what’s the big picture, what are the goals, what does good look like, how is this relevant?  Admittedly, running straight into this in a worn out state from TMA and MOOC did not help me take in what we were hoping to achieve.  The elluminate session in week 3 was helpful.
  4. google: even with good instructions getting to grips with GoogleSites and permissions has taken time.
  5. New concepts:  “design principles”, totally new concept to me – where do I start? I wasted vast amounts of time wasted barking up the wrong tree, but managed to do a bit of more relaxed reading around this (while off task on holiday) and feel like I have learned some useful things.
  6. timings: this all seems to have taken so much longer than that I really have had available.  (My garden is a nightmare)  I’ve put in more time than other blocks and feel like I have achieved less, but with more stress!
  7. taking shortcuts: 3 of the most productive members of our team have had a planned week holiday over this block – in a team of 4 this is significant resource reduction. We’ve had to take some shortcuts, to get the task done, but this has been at the cost of discussion and reflection.

That’s all for now..feel better already

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3 Responses to Laughter and red wine

  1. David McD says:

    A good comprehensive reflection, I am glad you feel better after it. I had a wee bit of a rant on my blog, mostly about the TMA – thanks for the reply 🙂 My block 3 rant is still to come.

    I feel that during block 3 the OU have tried their best to make things as complicated, dense and confusing as they possibly can. I have at times become frustrated and annoyed at this, however the light at the end of the tunnel is now very large. The only thing that has kept me going in block three is my team, I would like to meet them face-to-face and congratulate them.

    I have had lots of laughter (and beer) today – it’s not very often you get 28 celsius in Paisley/Glasgow.

    Here’s to the last week 🙂

  2. It’s great to read your thoughts and know I am not going mad in having some similar thoughts. For me the module has got clearer, more enjoyable and more focussed as time went on but a more pro-active attempt on the part of the module team to help the students see what they were trying to achieve using OpenDesignStudio and the ‘learning design methodology’, a tour of the various sites and modes of communication and an explanation of key terms would have gone some way to prevent the metaphorical drowning from which some people emerged spluttering and others perhaps not at all.
    I’m not sure what can be done about the groupwork v flexible distance learning issue. The issue of depending on others and decision making is very real and a desperation on the part of groups to just make some sort of decision in the interests of moving on may lead to expedient and strategic decisions.

    • NualaD says:

      Thanks Sukaina, this is a real tension isn’t it? We’ve got a certain social capital with our teammates – but and we don’t want to destroy this. If we focus on task we have to divide, delegate decision making and focus on deliverable chunks. But when the project in question is very much about articulating and working towards a shared vision – it is quite high risk to fragment it – we do risk losing people . Like you I’m beginning to “get it” – as the pressure of delivery has dropped I’ve enjoyed browsing other’s work in ODS and have picked up many ideas. What a clever and talented bunch….

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