A step into the unknown

Well some 13 years after graduating from an undergraduate degree in Economics, here I am back in the realm of formal education! Yet the motivations for doing so could hardly be more different.

It’s a real maelstrom of feelings, particularly in the last week when it’s moved from being just an exciting project in the future to a sense of ‘wow what have I taken on!’. I’m slowly working my way through all the introductory information and it’s a lot to take in – but as with all these things once you have a bit of momentum it all starts to fall into place (or so I hope).

So what am I looking forward to in the next few weeks? There’s quite a lot to be excited about:

  • I think there is so much yet untapped in the area of digital education and learning, we’re still just exploring the potential. I’m looking forward to learning about where we’re at, where things are headed, and ultimately what I can help shape.
  • Connecting with others to share, discuss, argue, disagree (!) in an online setting is something I can’t wait to get stuck into. As a father of three young kids, working from home, life can be quite isolated at times so extending my network, both professionally and personally is a real motivator for me.
  • Having worked in a commercial environment for the entirety of my working life, I think it’s going to be quite a culture shift to get back into ‘education’ and learning alongside people of different, and perhaps more academic, perspectives.
  • Having dipped my toe into other online offerings in the past few years, the only real experience that stood out as ‘breaking the mould’ was the University of Edinburgh MOOC on digital cultures. Given the format and thought that’d gone into this, I can only be enthusiastic about what lies ahead. In my opinion ‘elearning’ has quite a negative reputation, and that’s largely down to some of ‘click next’ compliance courses we’ve all experienced in the past at some point. I’m looking forward to being challenged about what a digital learning experience could be, and how this can be facilitated.

So what about the fears?

  • I’m sure every student has the same doubts, but the anticipated time commitment is on my mind. I want to contribute, and ultimately gain full value from the course but am a tad nervous about baking this into my week. But I’m sure once I’ve got into a rhythm it’ll be fine – once the conversations start flowing they’ll be fuel for my learning fire!
  • It seems the real framework of the IDEL course is the personal blog. Having always battled to articulate my thoughts from many words into few, I think this’ll be a big challenge at the start. But I see the opportunity to practice, and ultimately work on this soft skill as a real fringe benefit of taking the course.

So what lies ahead over the next few days? Well, I’m travelling back to the UK tomorrow (I’ve left the family in Holland with the in-laws for another week), and am downloading what I can now to get up to speed on ‘Week 0’ while in transit. Then come week 1, it’s all systems go!