In January we had another mentoring session with our mentees. In the beginning of the day we visited Virpi’s workplace at Oulu University Extension School. Virpi had put a great deal of effort in presenting her workplace with an interesting Prezi presentation. Thank you very much, Virpi! It was very interesting to hear about her work and to understand a little better about the complex needs today’s work life has. The visit made me realize that all the knowledge and skills we are learning in our Master’s program are valuable and very much needed in working life. Her job sounded very demanding, but very interesting as well as it allows one to develop one’s skills continuously and keep updating one’s knowledge.
These are some of the skills that are needed in Virpi’s work (as well as in several other occupations these days):
- the ability to seek and manage information
- the ability to learn new things constantly (to be a lifelong learner)
- good SRL skills (being able to set goals, find means to achieve the goals, monitor & reflect one’s progress and regulate emotions and motivation)
- team working skills (deeper understanding of collaboration and processes that affect it)
- adaptive expertise
- building professional networks to support one’s expertise
- good knowledge on online learning communities, facilitating online learning
- mentoring skills
- pedagogical knowledge on CSCL
- language skills
- organizational skills
- the ability to work self-imposed
Later on the day we had a change to meet with our own group of mentees. It was nice to see Miguel and Polina again and hear about their studies. It was motivating to see their excitement and eagerness to engage with new studies. They have a very good understanding already of what their theses are going to be about. I do envy that. : ) I wish I would have had as clearer vision a year ago. Talking with the mentees about their current studies made me feel like it was only yesterday when we had the same courses, like the project course KOPRO. The meeting served sort of like a mirror through which I could peek into the past and remember very vividly my own feelings from a year ago. It was interesting to look back at what I knew then and compare it with what I know now. I realized that within a year I have gained a more holistic view on EDUTOOL-studies and I have begun to see how all the elements of our studies are closely interlinked to each other. My perspective has grown wider and I feel that I am more rooted in the field than I was a year ago. It is important to every once in a while have these opportunities to take a peek in the past, because learning outcomes can only be perceived within time.
We had a little discussion about how we could continue educating ourselves when we will be graduated. It felt like it was a more relevant discussion topic to us mentors than the mentees and we (the mentors) could have easily spent longer time talking about it. The mentees were much more focused with their current studies, which is only reasonable when you have your plate full of courses and another 1½ years studying ahead of you. My previous experiences in working life have taught me that you need to continuously set new goals and pursuit them. A degree and years of formal schooling are not unfortunately enough in job markets. You must continuously seek ways to develop your skills and talents. It really seems quite overwhelming! On a positive note, good thing is that I love to study and am always keen on learning something new and curious about things I don’t yet know of.
We also had a discussion about out Thesis writing process. My journey in the land of thesis has been repeating a never ending loop. I have eagerly started out one, written a research plan and then something unexpected has taken place and it has brought me straight back to the starting point over and over again. This time, I hope, that I finally have a topic that I can finish my research with. I sure hope so. This thesis writing really is an ultimate test on ones SRL skills!
We had a little exercise on SRL. Our task was to set goals and think of ways how to achieve those goals. Then we had a little creative task with art books by Dali, Picasso, van Gogh, etc. The paintings were to serve as a stimulant, a source for divergent thinking as we were to think of possible future challenges that we might face when trying to achieve the set goals. We chose the art books, because we wanted to offer a creative approach that would serve as a way to trigger unconventional thinking processes.
Salvaror Dali’s “The Disintegration of the Persistence” brought several ideas into my head and reminded me of the challenges I have faced with my Thesis and all the possible SRL challenges that I am most likely going to meet.
- The bricks represent knowledge construction; little by little the tiles start to form a pattern and make more sense. I gain more knowledge (tiles) the more I read, but most importantly with collaboration with others. It would take much longer to complete the pattern with the tiles on my own. If I don’t have the strengths or my tiles get lost, I can reach out for help from others.
- Two trees that are cut from places remind me of how my prior attempts to start thesis writing have unsucceeded. Although my “thesis tree” did not survive, they teach me not to give up, to be persistent.
- The clocks obviously represent time management issues. It often feels like time is running out. Too many things going on the same time. This is a reminder of paying attention to time management and carefully plan times to write your Thesis. Mark times in your calendar, set short term goals and monitor how well you’ll achive them in time. If you don’t succeed, try to think if there is anything in your priorities that you could rearrange.
- The rock in the sea – sort of like an iceberg. It reminds me of something unexpected, something that one cannot plan ahead. Therefore it is always useful to modify your plans to meet the current circumstances and have another plan just in case.
- The rocky landscape reminds me of the basics – the solid ground we are building on during these studies and the foundation we have laid during these studies: collaborative learning, srl, expertise and technology – they all intertwine. This reminds me to search for good sources among the basic reading materials that have been provided to us during our courses.
- The cover over the sea that sets limits for it. In Finland we have a saying “Don’t go fishing further than the sea” which reminds me to maintain my focus on the very basics.
- A fish without shape reminds me of ideas that are floating in my head without having any precise focus. This reminds me to focus my ideas, focus my topic and one day I will have a it all in a smooth packet.
I will set two goals for the spring:
- To learn to market my expertise. I will read again the course descriptions of each of the courses I have participated in and think of what I have learned during the courses and how my skills have developed. I will also read my expertise profiles. I will make a list of all the things I am good at and skills that I set me apart from other job applicants. What are the skills that I have learned during the studies? I will write a CV or make a creative presentation that will demonstrate my journey to an expert on learning.
- I will develop a strategy how I will constantly update my knowledge after I have graduated. I am certain that I will utilize professional social media networks in the plan. I will also think of ways to educate myself after formal schooling.