Most Important Lessons
- Technology – As a novice online facilitator, I found the interaction with the WordPress platform, and the creation and using of posts, something I became more comfortable with.
- Academic Information – The course exposed me to articles in the online topic area that I had not read before. I feel I will now be more attuned to this topic when searching for, and/or encountering, articles regarding online teaching and learning.
- Some of the information I read had interesting evidence on the impact of video embedding in course material on student learning. It seemed to have some effect on self-confidence, but the impact on learning was an area lacking significant impact that needed further research. I was surprised by this and will be interested in learning more in this area of research.
I do not feel WordPress influenced my interactions. I viewed it merely as the platform for my personal learning and for the management of educational material and delivery. This interaction with WordPress I did enjoy.
- As mentioned above, I found the WordPress platform, getting familiar with and using it, to be a new learning experience, developing a new sense of empowerment for my overall teaching repertoire.
- Being conscious of online teaching presence was a dominant theme in the course material. The teaching strategies examined within this topic were both affirming, and also newly informative.
I wanted to find out (a) where the difficulties arose, and (b) suggestions and advice for success in this modality.
Common Problem Areas that were evident in the readings and videos were:
- Teacher Training – teachers had to develop capability in this type of delivery; understanding and using the various tools that were utilized in courses (video, discussions, wikis, etc.)
- Teacher Knowledge – the facilitator needs to have the content knowledge to develop material and to assist with student inquiries.
- Failing to address student misunderstandings in a timely manner, prior to the student continuing along a wrong path or moving on with other material; not being able to address student questions/concerns in a spontaneous manner
- Classroom Atmosphere – sometimes there can be a disconnect between facilitator and students, and among students.
- Students not watching the videos, or reading the material, as expected for developing a full appreciation or understanding of the material.
- Applying the pressure and support at a specific time when a student may need that extra motivation.
- Lack of spontaneous discussions.
Common Advantages brought forward were:
- Students have time for more analytical and reflective thought.
- The technology allows for the resources to be available at any time; allowing for review.
- Respects the individual for being a self-motivated person.
- Students can skip or move through content that they already know at a faster pace.
- The learning method suits students with busy and unusual life schedules.
- The learning programs are cheaper to produce and deliver.
- Establish relationships earlier, as relationships have been found to be a significant contributor to student completion.
- Suggest definitive time frames for completing the material; usually in one week intervals.
- Ensure that feedback on learning is regular and timely.
Haslam, J (n.d.) Synchronous vs. asynchronous classes. Retrieved from: http://www.elearners.com/online-education-resources/degrees-and-programs/synchronous-vs-asynchronous-classes/
Littlefield, J. (n.d.) Synchronous distance learning vs asynchronous distance learning. Retrieved from: http://distancelearn.about.com/od/choosingaschool/p/LearningTypes.htm
Makhlouf, J. (July 29, 2014) All by myself: The benefits and disadvantages of asynchronous learning. Retrieved from: http://elearningmind.com/benefits-and-disadvantages-of-asynchronous-learning/
Rysicki (2012) Asynchronous learning. Retrieved from: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+aschronous+teaching&view=detail&mid=E4B39B02A2B51E3CE783E4B39B02A2B51E3CE783&FORM=VIRE
Walton, P. D. (2015, November 1). Online indigenous university student supports, barriers, and learning preferences. Unpublished report, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC.
(2015). Asynchronous learning: Flipping the classroom. Retrieved from: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+aschronous+teaching+benefits+and+disadvantages&view=detail&mid=4FD38A2127BB580433D74FD38A2127BB580433D7&FORM=VIRE
How has my view on effective practice been altered?
The readings and personal reflection have directed me to improvement areas. Two specific directions come to mind, these being (1) drawing out participant thoughts more effectively on the concepts being covered, and (2) being more knowledgeable of where I can direct students to technical help when it is beyond my capacity.
How does my effective practice of immediate feedback, as discussed in Post 1, align with characteristics of teaching presence?
The following parallels are made:
Design and Organization – 4. Utilizing the medium effectively — The immediate feedback allows the instructor to address, and clarify, issues that are brought up in discussions and assignments.
Facilitating Discourse – 3. Encourages and Acknowledges — Immediate feedback recognizes the presence and value of the learner, as well acknowledges their learning, accomplishments, and progress.
Direct Instruction – 2. Specific and 4. Confirms Understanding — The immediate feedback practice allows the instructors to redirect when necessary and before further learning and opinions become more ‘off track’. The practice explains where ‘they are on’ and where they need to refine their learning/opinions.
Where has the idea of teaching presence led to making the practice more effective?
2.Facilitating Discussions – 4. drawing in Participants – I feel I have more capacity to develop in regards to drawing in the participants more– asking for further reflection or for more refinement of their positions.
3. Direct Instruction – 6. Inject Knowledge – I recognize that I can do more in the area of adding additional information to the process by redirecting to other academic information, such as related articles, and also by bringing in more of my personal experience in education and my research pracctice.
I am a long-term, experienced educator. I have (a) taught K-12 for may years, (b) evaluated practice and programs as a senior manager, and (c) enjoyed applying past practice and newly-learned practice into the post-secondary environment.While still learning many new concepts, I feel much of my practice is effectively honed.
One of my most effective and well-received strategies is to conduct immediate feedback on assignments; within a 24 hour time frame.
I remember when I was in public school and teachers would keep assignments and exams for weeks before returning anything to the students. Why have due dates for students if not for teachers? Also, when doing my doctoral studies I experienced unsatisfactory supervision. My main supervisor would not return emails, agree to meetings, and fail to return work/ideas for weeks at a time. This was very frustrating and led to an unhealthy relationship between student and supervisor.
Providing immediate feedback to students on their work and ideas honours them as individuals, and excites them about what they are doing. This is also an effective practice for the teacher as it maintains their focus and keep them in touch with their students, building a trusting and appreciative relationship.
The key ingredients are that the teacher needs to have good scheduling and tie management, planning their time in advance to provide this opportunity. Central to the effective of the practice is that the feedback is meaningful; being specific and constructive from the student’s learning perspective.
I have kept to the feedback philosophy for decades, thus, presently, regarding the timely and targeted feedback practice, I have not foreseen any changes to it at this time.
Two Concepts Related to Engagement/Retention:
- Equivalence Principle (Muller) – The notion of accepting that learning can happen equally well from multiple mediums was reassuring. The ‘equivalency’ of video to text learning was an excellent reminder for teachers to be aware of.
- Pre-teaching vocabulary and concepts – I had used this technique routinely in f2f teaching and need to re-examine this for online. I have found that I revisit vocabulary and concepts in my weekly emails, but now, knowing the areas that can be problematic, in a course, I can apply proactive pre-teaching for certain words and/or concepts.
Rationale – Weekly emails:
Establishing communication, and more importantly, sustaining the level of interaction has always worked well for me over the years. This, along with timely responses to questions, has been well received by students. This strategy reduces stress and builds trust between student and teacher, establishing a joint ownership for success.
- To access further articles on the effect of increasing social presence, through embedding video aids in online content. (Search for appropriate articles to clarify what Mandernach stated as only having a ‘slight increase in engagement’.)
- Clarify key vocabulary prior to, or simultaneously with, exposure within the course content. (Proactively introduce key vocabulary in weekly email newsletters to cohort.)
Academic Writing – The video below contains initial comments to beginning graduate students about their experiencing academic writing versus what they may be used to.
Experiencing Academic Writing
Link to Online Learning Supports
Initial Facilitating Strategies