Unit 1 | Introduction and Virtual Symposium


Welcome to the Pre-Residency component of our course! In this first unit we focus on orienting each other to this broad field and beginning to establish your blog. This provides us with a common starting point prior to coming together on campus where we will dig deeper into digital learning environments, networks and communities and concepts of digital presence and digital identity. These next three weeks are devoted to your participation in a virtual symposium and getting your student WordPress blogs sites underway.

The interesting thing about this virtual symposium is that it has already taken place, so you do not need to be online at a specific time or day during our pre-residency period. The symposium took place at the beginning of LRNT 521 for the fully online cohort who started in April 2019 and it is one of the culminating activities in LRNT 690, 691 and 692. It is where “new-to-program” students like you begin their orientation to the field and “near-to-completion” students are able to share their knowledge with the larger professional community. You also have the added benefit of being able to access the April 2017 and the April 2018 Virtual Symposium content as well.

Learning Activities and Assignments

  • Complete Unit 1 Activity 1 – Virtual Symposium requirements
  • Complete Unit 1 Activity 2 – Create your WordPress site.
  • Complete Unit 1 Activity 3 – Virtual Symposium Reflective Blog Post
  • Read the Unit 2 readings

Unit 1  | Activity 1 – Virtual Symposium

In anticipation of all of you, and in order to share the virtual symposium experience with the wider digital learning community, all live sessions were recorded and padlet was used for the asynchronous presentations. These were all shared publicly (and still are) and we used the #RRUMALAT hashtag as another way to extend the reach of the conversations.

There were three tracks to the symposium:

  1. Lay of the Land Track: this track featured sessions by professionals, experts and academics in the field(s). These sessions explore topics related to digital learning environments, networks, communities.
    1. You must watch 3 recorded presentations in this track and you will need to watch the Dave Cormier and Catherine Cronin tracks from the 2017 symposium and Clint LaLonde’s session from the 2018 Symposium to help orient you to the cross-cutting themes of openness, networked learning and digital mindset that run through the MALAT program.
  2. Work in Digital Learning – Stories from the Field Track: this track featured sessions by working professionals in the field(s) of digital learning as they discuss “a day in the life of”; the importance of the role and skill set etc.
    1. You will need to watch 2 recorded presentations in this track.
  3. End in Mind Track: this track featured presentations by “near-to-completion” students. These presentations focused on both content (e.g., a short summary of their research) and process (e.g., summary presentations on the process of completing a thesis; research paper; or digital learning research consulting project).
    1. You will need to watch 3 recorded presentations in this track and,
    2. In addition, you will need to watch the recording of Keith Webster WP and Feedly presentation from the 2018 presentation and you may also want to listen to the Q&A session with Keith form 2019  to help you get your blog up and running and your Feedly account connected. We will be spending time in Residency on this as well.
    3. You will need to review at minimum 2 presentations on the padlet and review the good questions that were added in by the April 2019 MALAT fully online cohort.

The Virtual Symposium schedule provides an overview the virtual symposium and has links to the recordings and where available, slide decks used. I would also encourage you to review the #RRUMALAT hashtag in Twitter to see where the conversation has gone since the initial virtual symposium session were held.

We will use the Comments feature on this page (scroll down) for conversation about the topics as you are reviewing the Virtual Symposium should you wish to discuss them.

Unit 1  | Activity 2 – Create your WordPress Blog Site

You have now been provided with access to your own instance of WebSpace powered by WordPress for you to customize and make your own throughout the program. During the pre-residency timeframe you need to spend some time setting up your WordPress site and giving some thought to your digital identity and presence as a graduate student. We will be spending more time exploring this during the Residency so please know your blog and your approach can always be edited as you go. In order to stay connected to each other via the course blog and your own WordPress blogs – be sure to set up your Feedly. See here for instructions. You will need to add the OPML files to your Feedly for each course.

Unit 1  | Activity 3 – Virtual Symposium Critical Academic Reflective Blog Post

As you develop your first blog post (Unit 1 Activity 3) it is important to remember that your academic voice and your critical academic blogging will be different than perhaps the blogging you are used to or have experienced. Here is an overview of critical academic writing and a resource on academic blogging to get you started – no doubt you will find more resources as you go. Think of your blog posts as critical academic reflection where you are analyzing and synthesizing as you make connections between theory and practice. Don’t forget to explore the resources on the RRU Writing Centre as well and to format your post as per APA.

Now that you have had an opportunity to review a variety of the Virtual Symposium sessions, write a 500 – 750 word academic reflection on the content of the presentations you attended. Consider the following questions:

  • What were some surprising ideas that you encountered as you reviewed the recordings and artefacts? Why were they surprising?
  • Which one idea was especially intriguing to you? Why?
  • Did you encounter any ideas that you especially agreed or disagreed with? Describe that idea in your own words On what bases did you agree or disagree with the idea? Was the disagreement conceptual, philosophical, or ethical? What evidence would you use in supporting your agreement or disagreement with the idea?

Post your reflection on your blog. You are expected to incorporate APA standards for citations, formatting, and references and to back up your writing with evidence and appropriate academic literature as necessary. You are required to pay attention to grammar and clarity and to avoid colloquialisms. References are not included in the assignment word count.


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