Communication and Technology Skills Essay

Abstract

The purpose of this report is to evaluate the use of Information, Communication and Technology Skills (ICT) in the distance learning environment and how they can assist the progress of developing knowledge and core study skills for a positive and rewarding learning experience and to achieve success.

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1. Introduction

This report begins by evaluating how the distance learner can establish and maintain effective communication with the tutor for the duration of their online studies. The discussion then focuses on the importance of planning and how to achieve self-motivation.

The report then examines the use of ICT skills and how technological tools assist with self study, included is a list of the technological tools available to the online student. The importance of constantly developing ICT skills is discussed and some skills acquisition routes have been identified. The report then goes on to explain the construction and use of the ePortfolio. A Personal SWOT analysis has been produced and an evaluation has been done as to how it might facilitate in identifying strengths and weaknesses.

The aims and objectives of reflective writing are described. The report then concludes with a discussion on self-assessment and some useful self-assessment methods are identified.

2. Maintaining effective communication with your tutor

By utilising the methods, tools and strategies of Information, Communication and Technology skills (ICT), I will be able to establish and maintain effective communication with my tutor during my studies. As there is no face to face contact with the tutor and student advisor’s in the distance learning environment, it is essential to continue to build good communication skills as they are essential for continuing a sound working relationship.

Submitting competent coursework activities will enable me to transmit my skills, progress, knowledge and understanding. Special attention needs to be paid to structure and style within my work as well as correct spelling, grammar and phrasing. It is also very important to use the correct referencing methods as indicated, namely, Harvard Referencing Basics.

3. Planning and self motivation

Time management is critical for the distance learner as each unit requires approximately 60 hours of study time and there are 16 units in total. It is imperative to effectively plan and implement enough time for each unit and this is essential for achieving success. I have set up a study calender and have marked up the times that I have available for studying during the week. A suitable study space is equally important, one that is comfortable, well organised and most of all where little or no distractions will be experienced.

Goal planning is also essential for keeping self-motivated and positive. The distance learner requires full commitment and setting small goals, which are easily achievable, will give a sense of pride and accomplishment and help with self-motivation. Support from family, friends, tutors and fellow students is important.

4. ICT Skills and their relevance to the distance learning environment

Information, Technology and Communication skills are relevant to the distance learner because this course is delivered solely online and thus relies totally on the student being able to study independently. ICT comprises core skills for learning and they help the student to achieve a successful study outcome.

4.1 Technological Tools

There are many technological tools available to the online student today, knowledge and use of these will facilitate learning. Some technological tools available to the online student include:

4.1.1 Kindle

The kindle is an e-book reader and a very useful tool which enables the student to download, read and study all the course material. Very useful features include highlighting of important text for future reference, book marks and a search feature for definitions of words.

4.1.2 Internet

The internet allows instant connectivity and by using powerful search engines like GOOGLE the student will easily be able to do web based research, access dictionaries, find additional reading material and in this way the online student will easily be able to build a personal resource list. The internet helps the student to keep in touch by using email, blogs, Facebook and Skype. It also enables the student to access the Online Campus to upload all the assignments and to make contact with other HND students via the Forum and Chat room. The internet saves the online student valuable time because information is immediately available when needed.

4.1.3 Software packages

Software packages allow the student to manipulate the research data and turn it into useful information such as spreadsheets and presentations. I will be mostly making use of a word processing package to type up all the assignments and self assessment activities i.e. Microsoft Word.

5. Skills Acquisition Routes

It is very important to constantly develop ICT skills in order to communicate effectively, maximise study progression and achieve all the goals set out.

5.1 Writing Skills

I have had little previous experience in essay and report writing at tertiary education level and would like to considerably improve my writing skills to make sure that that they are at the correct level for this course.

The Learning Space website from the Open University had a very useful tutorial on essay and report writing skills. Having worked through this tutorial I have vastly increased my knowledge and I think I have gained some very insightful information on the ways in which to go about planning and writing a good essay and report. This knowledge has helped me to have a better understanding of the key concepts of writing well.

5.2 Communication Skills

I found a couple of interesting websites dealing with communication skills and how to improve them. On the Mind Tools website there was a very interesting section on communication skills with many valuable sub sections. Particularly useful to me were Communicating in person, understanding others better and cross-culture communication.

6. ePortfolio constructs

I have set up the ePortfolio on my computer using my PC and the software I have available. This ePortfolio consists of a number of files and folders where I will store all my coursework, self assessment activities, independent research, completed assignments and reflective journals. Some of these elements will be submitted to my tutor as part of the coursework activities and will be formally assessed.

I will continue to add to the ePortfolio for the lifetime of the course and this well structured system of information will also serve me very well as a resource for continuing my personal and professional development as well as serving as a very useful revision tool for any future studies I might decide to undertake. It also serves as developmental evidence of my studies and I will be requested to submit it to my tutor from time to time.

7. Personal SWOT analysis

SWOT is the acronym of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

It is a useful tool to help identify your own personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. SWOT can help in identifying core capabilities and competences as well as learning needs and goals and is an easy way to identify the areas which require praise or attention. If you know what your strengths are, you are then able to focus on them and to use them in the most beneficial way possible. Corrective action can be taken against any weaknesses you may have and in this way you are able to minimize them. Knowing the opportunities available to you enables you to take the greatest possible advantage of them.

In the distance learning environment personal SWOT analysis can also be used as a motivational tool to help track your progress and your skills development.

SWOT analysis can be done as text or in diagram form.

8. Aims and objectives of reflective writing

The objectives of reflective writing are to evaluate, explore, express and explain your own personal experiences and feedback received from your tutors.

The aims of reflective writing are to gain understanding and attach meaning which will help with learning and skills development. Reflective writing also forms part of Continuous Personal Development (CPD).It is a dynamic process that is embedded in the desire and necessity for personal transparency, peer review and knowledge development and it should be an ongoing cycle of reflection, adjustments and informed practice.

Reflective writing involves reflective thinking. Reflective thinking comprises looking back at a happening or event, idea or object and then analysing that event or idea and carefully thinking about what it means for you and your ongoing process as a distance learner.

9. Self assessment

Self assessment activities give the student the opportunity to assess and reflect on their own work. In this way students are able to judge their own performance and determine what was learned and in what areas weaknesses exist and where improvements can be made. Self assessment helps to develop personal skills and subject specific knowledge and in this way the student also develops independent study skills which are essential in the distance learning environment.

Methods of self assessment include reflection in action which occurs during the writing process, end of unit self assessment tasks, weekly self evaluations and online discussions.

10. Conclusion

This reports concludes that using Information, Communication and Technology skills in the distance learning environment enables the student to establish and maintain effective communication with the tutor and also helps the student to gain instant access to a vast array of skills acquisition routes. These routes assist the student in constantly gaining new knowledge and learning new skills which are essential to achieving success when studying independently.

It is also concluded that time management and goal planning are essential for achieving self-motivation.

This report has also identified the need for reflective writing and self assessment and their role in helping the student to gain important self knowledge.

11. Reference List

Mind Tools, Essential Skills for an excellent career, [online],

http://www.mindtools.com, [11/5/2012]

Self Assessment, [online], http://www.lboro.ac.uk/service/ltd/campus/selfass.pdf, [12/5/2012]

University of Reading, Engage in assessment, [online], http://www.reading.ac.uk/engageinassessment/peer-and-self-assessment/self-assessment/eia-self-assessment.aspx, [14/5/2012]

University Writing Centre, [online], http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/teaching-writing/feedback/self-assessment/ [10/5/2012]

Social Care Institure for excellence, [online]

http://www.scie.org.uk/ [12/5/2012]

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