Learning to Learn (again)

I have been trying to figure out how to keep learning things, now that I’m done with school for a while. I’ve been in formal education settings since I was 5, so… 27 years? That’s ridiculous, but I’d venture to say that in this case more than a lot of cases, old habits die hard.

I don’t just want to learn: I want to be taught. I have to retrain myself to think of me as both the learner and the teacher, now. It’s quite an adjustment. To help me along with this, I’ve come up with a few “Learning Goals” for this summer.

My Summer Learning Goals

1. This summer, I am learning how to use SolidWorks, a 3-D drafting software, so that I can help out with a friend’s class this fall if I’m needed. I was originally going to be able to teach the class, but you know how way leads onto way… and we ultimately figured out that I wasn’t qualified!

Tonight, I want to complete the “Getting Started” set of tutorials. I have been looking at it for a while, already, but have been getting confused, so I am trying to approach it in an organized fashion: “Today I will do this. On Monday, I will do this. Etc.” Here’s tonight’s list:

  • Introduction to SolidWorks
  • Lesson 1 – Parts
  • Lesson 2 – Assemblies
  • Lesson 3 – Drawings

I was initially a little perturbed at having to battle my way through SolidWorks on my own. For the level that the students are going to be using it this fall, however, it’s not that complicated. I’ve decided to enjoy the opportunity to learn this software. Uncomplicated doesn’t make it Sarah-friendly, but it helps.

2. This fall, I will be teaching Basic Math online. So, this summer I am working on learning to use a new-to-me LMS (Jenzabar’s e-Racer). If you have been reading my blog for any great length of time, then you know I have a soft spot in my heart for another LMS. I don’t want to use anything else except maybe Desire2Learn. E-Racer isn’t treating me too badly, however – it has been pretty simple to customize the layout. I am familiar with the web interface for Jenzabar, so it was a surprise to find out that when you enable e-Racer, it’s just another module within the web interface.

3. This is a great lead-in to the third piece of software I am learning, this Summer – Hawkes Learning Systems. I explored this as part of my job about 5 years ago, in my first position with a community college. I don’t remember why we opted not to use it and I don’t think it has changed too much, but at some point in the intervening 5 years, the school has decided to use it in order to teach basic math.

I’ve looked at Hawkes and it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, which I have come to think is probably the best situation for online Math 20 students. Anyway, I am using this software for most of the course homework. I know from experience that this has it’s own inherent set of challenges and hopefully I am more prepared for it than I was the last time I used an online homework system.

That’s what I’m doing, this summer, for the most part. I am also trying to figure out for the life of me how I can be ahead of the curve in terms of educational technology and elearning. Here are my current sources I like:

Anything else you would recommend? Are you yourself or your institution working on something really awesome in the world of virtual education? I just graduated from Boise State University in May, and one of the things they do that I think is cool is their 3D Gamelab. It’s a quest-based learning platform that keeps students engaged with gaming principles. Check out the video below for more information:

The last thing I’m trying to do this summer is blog more. Consider this my tentative step forward on that goal – I’ll try to start finishing up/ posting some of the other posts I have in draft form.