Ten Things I Learned About Teaching Online-Part 2

This blog is the second part of my blog post, Ten Things I Learned about Teaching Online-Part 1. Below are my takeaways from weeks 6-10 of the course.

Week #6-Affiliation is essential for successful online learning experiences. (Dabbagh, 2007).

This was the week when we had the opportunity to dive deeper into various scholarly articles about online learning. I was particularly interested in Nada Dabbagh’s article, The Online Learner Characteristics and Pedagogical Implications. It notes the popularity of building of communities of practice in online spaces. Since such communities rely on the social network to drive learning, it emphasized the importance of affiliation (Dabbagh, 2007). I plan to apply this concept by recognizing that I must build trust early on, community over time, and engage in knowledge building efforts to develop the online community.

Week #7-How will group projects be managed in online spaces? What is the role of management and facilitation in online spaces?

In comparison to a face to face classroom, the dynamics are different in online spaces. This week brought forth a greater awareness about the need to consider how I will manage group projects. (Check out the resources our facilitators for the week assembled on this topic.) A conversation evolved in our course about the differences between management and facilitation and what that meant in online spaces. I consider management in an online space as the instructor’s efforts to set up the structures for group success, as well as effectiveness in addressing situations that violate community norms. On the other hand, I see online facilitation as the efforts taken to empower individuals and the group to go in the directions needed for learning to occur.

Week #8: Know the difference between crowdsourcing and knowledge building so that you can leverage both in your online courses.

For years I have just assumed that these two terms meant the same thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In short, when I consider using the two, I will start by asking myself the questions:

  • What is my goal/purpose in engaging in this activity?
  • When do I plan to do this in the course?

The answers to these questions are important because if I hope to gain a wealth of ideas/perspectives and am not concerned about the level of expertise or depth, crowdsourcing would be an appropriate choice. However, if I was looking to engage in a shared task with a group of committed members, knowledge building would be a better approach. In terms of timing, it seems most appropriate that crowdsourcing would be done earlier on in the start of the course, when individuals do not know each other well, if at all. Knowledge building would seem to be more effective once some rapport has been established within the group and shared ownership for learning has been maintained.

Week #9: What the purpose of grades/marks?

I recognize this very question can be subject of another blog post. At this point, I am questioning whether I need grades in my course. Assuming I have a choice as an instructor, I would like to have a structure set up where students assess and grade themselves. In situations that require grades, I will be using student created assessments and self/peer assessments as much as possible.

Week 10: Reflection is powerful.

In this particular course our last week was designed for reflection. That was the first time in a course where so much time was devoted to reflection and I enjoyed the opportunity. So often when we take professional development courses, we hurry through the course and may devote our own time either through blogging or informal conversations to deconstruct what we learned. What a great opportunity to do this formally in a course with those you have been learning with for an extended period of time. I recognize that it may not always be possible to incorporate a week of reflection in my future courses, but I plan to build in more than the obligatory course evaluation moment for such purposes.

Lastly, I owe a big thank you to my co-learners for a wonderful ten weeks of learning. I have learned so much because of each of you. Also special thanks to Sheryl for all your expertise and wisdom. This time together has opened my eyes to so many possibilities!

Dabbagh, N. (2007). The Online Learner: Characteristics and Pedagogical Implications. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(3), 217-226. AACE.

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