On May 2, a couple of us from WIC attended the Penn Language Center’s 8th Annual Showcase and Teaching Award Program. Each year, language educators in SAS apply to the PLC for SAS Language Teaching Innovation Grants to enhance course content and, therefore, students’ language-learning experiences in the classroom. The results of these grants were showcased at Friday’s event, and a panel of judges chose two projects as this year’s winners.
Over the past two weeks, I participated in the Power Searching with Google course (I was hoping to pose with a comically oversized version of my certificate, ala the Publishers Clearing House, but I haven’t received it yet!). This free online course used a combination of instructional videos, practice exercises, and interactive spaces to facilitate individual and community-based learning on how to craft good Google searches and refine your results.
In addition to the subject matter being helpful for me as a librarian, the course got me thinking more about the power of online, self-paced learning opportunities. Using the model of the “massive open online course,” Power Searching offered content in several formats for different learning styles that students could complete on their own schedule, importantly for FREE. And while my idea of printing out a giant certificate is (sort of) a joke, the promise of earning some kind of credit for my work provided the incentive I needed to complete the course.
This is a topic that has been on my mind since the announcement of Penn’s involvement in Coursera, along with developments from other big projects like edX and Udacity. But even on a smaller scale, I see folks in the Commons taking advantage of this model as they camp out with Lynda.com to learn how to use Photoshop, manipulate data in Excel, or create infographics. How can we use Lynda and other online tools to facilitate learning beyond what we do in our in-person WICshops? What is the role of informal learning alongside traditional courses and professional development? Just a couple of questions I’m asking myself this week (while power searching for the answers, of course)…
While preparing for tomorrow’s WordPress Basics workshop, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time on the Learn.WordPress.com site. Using some handsome graphics and plenty of handy screenshots, this instructional site takes you from the very basics of setting up your WordPress account to a list of “10 Super Awesome Insider Tips.” While it won’t take you as deep into the tool as something like Lynda.com (check out their list of WordPress tutorials – not too shabby!), it’s a well-designed and simple resource to help you get started.