A short while ago, I did a short reflection on my experience so far with Ontario Extend’s East Cohort. I was lucky to have that reflection shared at the eCampus Ontario site. I’m also going to repost it here (thanks for the suggestion Terry Greene!) to share with those who are following the Domains of Our Own blogs. If you’re here and haven’t been part of an Extend Cohort, I highly recommend it. (Next Cohort will start on May 5 – signup here: https://bit.ly/2GwMwWu) Read on, for my thoughts on Extend!
I joined the Extend East cohort of eCampusOntario’s Extend initiative as a means to developing skills in online learning and teaching, especially in the area of emerging technologies. I’d stalked the Extend site in the past and had seen the modules based on the Anatomy of a 21st Century Educator. This fit in with some of the institutions where I work, who use the framework for instructional design. Rather than just work through the modules on my own, I decided to join a cohort going through the modules together. Has it delivered what I expected so far? Absolutely not.
Wait a minute? Not?
Let me explain. I expected an introduction to the framework. I expected to gain knowledge in the six modules. Check and check. So far, so good.
What is not what I expected is what else the Extend experience has delivered. While there are many aspects of Extend that go above and beyond, here are a few of my favourites.
Sharing resources. The Extend community is very open about showing off things they’ve done or discovered and making them available for everyone to use. I feel like someone has just handed me a beautifully wrapped gift that, when opened, has a wealth of tools, educational resources, and ideas that I can use and adapt to enhance my course design and teaching. Open educational resources – what a wonderful new world!
Fun. This is not the dry, boring experience I was expecting. What people contribute is often silly, humorous, or just plain weird. And that only enhances our learning.
Community. For the most part, I’m an isolated practitioner, working for several clients in a distance format. This means that I’m often very isolated both socially (no water cooler to chat around!) and from a sharing of professional knowledge perspective. Working through the experience in a cohort has introduced me to many amazing people with a widely diverse range of knowledge and experience. I feel like I’ve suddenly become connected to a network of brilliant professionals that will continue to expand and grow even after the cohort has finished the Extend.
Extend hasn’t met my expectations, it has shattered them with an experience far beyond what I anticipated. Huge thanks to everyone at eCampusOntario / Ontario Extend and to all the other Extenders out there. It’s been a blast so far. Can’t wait for more!