The workshop has been a fruitful experience for me during the course of which I obtained access to new ideas and new resources regarding which I had had only a vague notion. It was a new experience to be able to share ideas of common interest - specially for the profession since there are such few individuals committed to Distance Education. The sense of community gradually built up even as one needed some time to sort out the flood of emails (with a little help from a fellow-participant).The weekly announcements by the facilitator helped to reinforce this sense of community and even though one was not able to match expectations of meeting deadlines, there was always a feeling of satisfaction that a simple task had been accomplished. In this sense, the tasks were systematically arranged so that the levels were properly coordinated. I can now look back and see that this was correctly done. (It's amazing to see just how much can be achieved when a community decides to act on the concept of spreading knowledge!) The feeling of community persisted with the help of the fact that a discussion continued even when one was not engaged in it - all those emails made that visible! The involvement of the participants was of a quality that made the sense of community tangible. The sharing of jokes and select items of knowledge and wisdom helps to shape this sense and the workshop made this possible. The 'presence' of the facilitator provided the essential cementing quality required for the forum for exchange. Distance Education cannot lose sight of the 'peer'-factor as this experience shows.
Again, the concept of the Open Educational Resources could be made out only after the practice gained here. This has been invaluable because this is an area regarding which one had only vague notions earlier. What is exactly entailed in this became clear only through the workshop. Some more training is required here. Writing for the 'open resource' is different from writing for a 'closed' resource and the workshop helped towards this realization. One can, theoretically speaking, learn many skills but the presence of a committed facilitator makes a palpable difference in that it provides motivation. This is a lesson for distance educators in that it shows the importance of the instant feed-back. The concept of a 'workshop' would have faded had the commentary from the facilitator been missing. It was also pleasant to find out that technology could be of so much use in instantaneous communication.
I did face some minor difficulties regarding language which may, however, not have been faced by others. Working in cyberspace helped me to find out that natural languages are different from the language used here. It took me some time to gather exactly what was meant by "syntax". This difficulty arose out of the fact that those of us who work with language (at such intimate quarters) respond to different associations of a word than the ones open to the general community. Another block seemed to come with the inability of the software to detect the stage of a submission. This actually led to my hot-headed difference with the facilitator but looking back one can conclude that technology can also play a disruptive role in human relationships! Distance Educators need to recognize this fact also.
On the whole, the workshop has been a good experience which has been both rigorous and enjoyable. The human factor in the role of the dedicated facilitator cannot be replaced by technology and in spite of the distance from which one writes ( 'distance' created by heavy workloads, poor internet connections, health deficiencies), I will look back on this workshop as an invaluable experience. My performance could not match my own expectations due to these various factors but I am indeed grateful to the facilitator, Dr.Sanjaya Mishra, that he took the kind of personal responsibility for any participant's performance which one can only wish to emulate. - Uttara Debi