Little did I know what I was venturing into when I embarked on my Masters in nursing a few years ago. I’ve heard it said that returning for a MN degree is “refreshing your nursing education”. Indeed, I have found that it has been that and much more for me. When I registered for this course, I just knew I wanted something different and something related to education. Again, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I’m a risk-taker, and it usually serves me. Once again, I believe I’m further ahead for venturing out into unknown territory, “feel(ing) the fear and do(ing) it anyway”!
Transformative Learning is the process of “perspective transformation”, with three dimensions: psychological (changes in understanding of the self), convictional (revision of belief systems), and behavioral (changes in lifestyle).
Mezirow (1995) inductively identified ten phases of perspective transformation from his study of 83 women returning to college after a long hiatus from schooling. As I read through the list, I could identify with every single one.
1. A disorienting dilemma
- Nursing education is highly guarded on use of social media out of legitimate ethical concern around breach of patient privacy. The official party line from my immediate social system has seemed to be NO GOOD CAN COME FROM TWITTER and other social media! Only one of my colleagues within our program is active on Twitter.
2 Self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame or fear
- What do I think I’m doing in this course? Am I simply rebellious to my dying day? (see above concern for context). I do not measure up to my classmates in my background of educational theory. This may not be a legitimate elective. I will be exposed and shamed.
3. A critical assessment of assumptions
- My colleague who is on Twitter is a leader and innovator and highly ethical practitioner. I have the utmost respect for her and she has been a marvelous informal mentor to me. She is always “out in front” regarding tech integration. She is better informed than many of us on evidence, be it evidence for pedagogical or nursing science. Maybe she is onto something!
4. Recognition that one’s discontent and process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change.
- Simply refer to EC&I831 classmates’ blogs from the first several weeks for validation.
5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
- Getting on Twitter and following classmates and a few social justice and nursing related hashtags opened my eyes to the possibility that Twitter could be the most effective gateway to lifelong learning.
- Reflecting on my own and others’ learning as documented in our blogs revealed that learning happens in the spaces between people, when they come together to process ideas and behaviors.
6. Planning of a course of action
- I adopted http://www.paper.li in October to make Twitter more ergonomic and esthetic for me.
- As I considered our faculty’s learning needs and innovations taking place within our new nursing education program, I planned a project that would transfer, or at least, share knowledge, in my face-to-face PLN.
- I would complete the course requirements to the best of my ability and see where this takes me…I need this elective, darnit, non-completion is not an option!
7. Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans
- We all learned to use WordPress.com or similar for documenting our learning journeys.
- We all learned to locate and attribute to their to author/creator, engaging images.
- We all were challenged to learn new Web2.0 digital storytelling tools.
- Applicable theory related to the objectives of my final project “Innovation Showcase” had to be reviewed and learned “deeper”.
8. Provisionally trying out new roles
- This course has occurred concurrently with taking on the role of course leader in our new program. In my third year as nursing educator, I consider myself an advanced novice. Taking on course leadership is a big stretch. I am thankful for the timing of the Nursing Leadership 812, that I’ve just completed, in which I created a personal leadership plan tailored primarily to this new role. I will be integrating some learning from ECI831 in trialling VoiceThread as a means of asynchronous discussion between faculty who rarely see each other while working in community agencies with students for experiential learning. Effective communication skills are imperative for a leader to be transformational – empowering.
9. Building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
- I certainly perceive an increase in confidence as a result of the things I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve formed.
10. A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective.
- I do not believe I am the same learner that I was back in early September. Neither am I the same teacher. On this point, I hope, and choose to believe, that I am transformed and on my way to being transformative as an educator.
How am I different?
My face-to-face learning network is more developed, in part(s) as a result of my project, my increased confidence and my need for expertise and resources as I move into a new role.
My virtual network was birthed with the commencement of this course and has evolved and sculpted over the months. Although I follow 100 on Twitter now, up from 3 back in August 2011, my best learning resources are @NIH (National Instititute for Health), @globaltechnurse, @SafetyNurse, @nursetim, @JNE (Journal of Nursing Education) and @Jone_Tiffany for nursing. I like @Unicef, @ONE.org, @impatientoptimists, @gatesfoundation and @WHOnews for social justice topics. And I follow educause, and edutopia for general education.
I invited my students to follow me on Twitter on our last day together Dec. 4th. Most are not on twitter but two have signed on to follow me. I find myself talking to colleagues about what I learned via twitter this week and educating them about the overlooked goldmine of knowledge and information on twitter.
So I’m better connected as a learner and educator and I believe, as my basic values convictions have changed, I will continue to develop connections to learn and share. I’m amazed by the things I’m learning from my network and find this so nurturing and energizing that I can’t imagine why I’d slow down now.
I’ve always told stories to help students engage through emotion with ideas and concepts, but I will do even more of this, and I will integrate digital storytelling tools.
Where I want to go yet with social media is to connect with our government officials and health policy makers on a regular basis to give them feedback – positive and negative – and encourage others to do the same. As I tweeted out to Alec’s community meeting on Thursday, I believe social media gives the individual citizen a voice. The question is: will we take it up and use it?