Making the Links

This page links to discussions on my weblog in order to further my thinking about the work I am currently doing.

The following was originally published February 6, 2006 at

external image work-approach.png

I was reading this post about 5 ways to improve productivity and began thinking about my constant battle to outline an approach in working with teachers to plan their online courses. I've always found this process hard to pin down, although I'm not a great stickler for systematic approaches! Having said that, I find I continually start from square one with many teachers, mainly because there's a need to get acquainted, as well as spend some time (however brief) attempting to understand how a teacher thinks and what their teaching habits and preferences are! So, I'm attempting to represent some sort of workflow, based on my previous experiences with teachers, as a way to not only outline some sort of process, but to identify (for myself mostly) any gaps/omissions that might impact on the eventual design of the online course.

Nothing is really foolproof, but I find the process of reflection a good motivator in keeping my personal work standards fresh and relevant. Here's a bit of a skeletal sketch so far... The pentagon model above takes the five points discussed in the blog post at LifeHack and illustrates the fact that this is usually not a linear process, and the starting point depends on what the teacher (and myself) brings to the discussion at the start of a development project. For example, we might start straight out with a plan of sorts from which other aspects are then considered and in turn applied.

I've kept 'Procrastination' there because it speaks volumes about the nature of work, human interaction and our own motivations! It's an important aspect that we need to factor into the process, because it is often caused by a number of factors, or barriers. I've included learning here as well; my reasoning is aligned with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You can't do something if you have other more pressing needs to address first. Often in my line of work that has to do with either technology (and the varying levels of one's technical skills) or the fact that teachers are often entering unfamiliar territory when they approach online learning and teaching. Apprehension, anxiety, confusion, frustration, misconception, and busyness are all factors I think contribute to procrastination (and thus impact other elements like prioritising!) - it is an entirely internal thing that we foster as individuals!

Other aspects outlined are prompted by those ever-present questions, 'what', 'how', 'why', 'when' and 'who'. Simple questions often result in informative and relevant answers. You can ask these questions over and over until an answer emerges! You can repeat these questions after receiving an answer to help refine ideas, as teachers (and designers) come to know the development more intimately (kind of like an acquaintance becoming more of a friend). Overall, I see this an an active process, one in which all parties are able to reflect-in-action (or "thinking on your feet") and respond accordingly. This is a key part of developing teaching praxis and an understanding of what it means to teach and learn using technologies. This obviously doesn't happen overnight and is very much an iterative process (thus the spiral). So, what do you reckon?

See also: Maslow's hierarchy of needs reflection, teaching, workflow, design

The following was originally published February 19, 2006 at

external image work-procrastinate.png

Let's look closer at the 'procrastination' element of our work approach model... Why DO we procrastinate? LifeHack takes us through some of the causes of procrastinating at work (which can be applied in daily life too no doubt!). Being Monday morning too, I'm feeling slightly 'mondayitis' and thus prone to procrastinating right now! :oP According to Lifehack, we procrastinate because either
  • we don't like the task in the first place,
  • the results aren't immediate,
  • the work involved is too complicated, or
  • we feel concerned about failing the task.

I can see how each of these points can impact on developing an online approach. I also think that as human beings we put up barriers for ourselves too! I was reading a book last night called The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman (1984) and the protaganist in the story is told by his mystical teacher that in order to cultivate new (good) habits he must channel his anger in the right direction, because anger forces action. We must 'act', as LifeHack concurs, in order to overcome procrastination! Conquering procrastination takes activity. And the keyword in activity is 'act', which is consequently a distinct action that we physically do or cause to happen.

I guess that means identifying the elements that bring on procrastination, for example, if a task IS complicated how might we break it up into manageable chunks? This is what I'm getting at with the planning model for designing an online approach. I reckon people don't give the planning stage enough consideration and often this is their downfall. Thus, people tend to comment that it's too hard, it doesn't make sense, the technology is to blame, and so on! Sure, some of this might be true, and often all it takes is a little time to develop an understanding, and, I think, through understanding we build the confidence to act. To forge opportunities for understanding, I see my job as offering a structured process to support this. When we see some progress it makes us feel good and spurs us - hopefully - into further action. Right! ...back into it then! =o)

procrastination, work habits, action