The Art of Teaching Online is NOT about the content in your online course. It’s about devoting yourself to helping develop the power of your learners minds. It’s about your passion for helping learners flourish as critically thinking, curious, creative, and compassionate individuals.
When you devote yourself to helping develop your learners you become aware that most college students choose one of three broad approaches to their learning AND their choice directly impacts what they do in your online course.
- Surface learners intentions are to survive, to get out of the course alive. They often resort to what they think will be the easiest approach.
- Strategic learners are driven by a desire for recognition, usually in the form of higher grades. They will do what they think is necessary to get high grades. Strategic learners tend not to take risks (for fear it will jeopardize their grade point average) or to learn conceptually. They learn procedurally, how to plug the right number in a formula, or the right words in a particular form of essay.
- Deep learners grapple with ideas, concepts, and the implications and applications of those ideas and concepts. Deep learners undergo transformations in the concepts they hold. Their learning has a sustained and substantial influence on the way they will subsequently think, act, and feel.
What the Best College Teachers Do– Dr. Ken Bain
The Art of Teaching is about reaching these types of learners by influencing their learning intentions and successes in ways that go far beyond their expectations . It’s about moving difficult, unprepared, and ill-prepared learners to a slightly higher level. It’s about taking disengaged learners and turning them into very deep learners, with deep intentions.
There are three primary factors for engagement in every online learning environment: the student, the teacher, and the content.
- When a learner engages with the instructor there is relationship and when a learner engages with another learner there is also relationship.
- When a learner engages with the content there is relevance and interest.
- When an instructor engages with the content there is expertise and the potential for rigor.
When you bring relationship, relevance, and expertise together you will discover meaningful learner engagement in the online courses you teach.
- Relationship is the bond of trust and mutual respect between the instructor and learner, and between learners.
- What can I learn in my class that won’t just be for a grade but also can be something that I can take away, something that will be useful to me as an adult.
- Even though a teacher knows their subject thoroughly, this does not guarantee that they are able to teach others. Online instructors not only have knowledge and expertise in their subject area but also in pedagogical and andragogical (adult learning) strategies. When instructors have expertise in a subject and how to learn they are more likely to inspire students to learn, grow and become responsible learners and citizens. The best online instructors use their expertise to foster students cognitive, emotional and behavioral engagement.
Relationship is the bond of trust and mutual respect between the instructor and learner, and between learners.
- When a learner engages with the instructor there is relationship.
- When a learner engages with another learner there is also relationship.
College graduates…had double the chances of being engaged in their work and were three times as likely to be thriving in their well-being if they connected with a professor who stimulated them, cared about them, and encouraged their hopes and dreams.
Results from this study of 30,000 graduates of American colleges concludes it all comes down to values and human connectedness.
As an online instructor you have the life changing opportunity to create and promote positive relationships that build confidence and open learners to discovering themselves.
Spend most of your time online building relationships
First, and foremost, a positive relationship between the instructor and the learner is critical for the learner to feel a connection between what he or she is learning and their hopes and dreams. When this happens a mutually respectful relationship begins to grow increasing the learners self-worth, sense of wellbeing and emotional engagement- Parker Palmer.
When relationship building is a priority in online courses the following occurs.
- Everyone cares about the other.
- Everyone enjoys interacting with each other.
- Everyone is sensitive to the specific needs of the other.
The most practical thing we can achieve in any kind of work is insight into what is happening inside us as we do it. The more familiar we are with our inner terrain, the more sure-footed our teaching–and living–becomes. If we want to develop the identity and integrity that good teaching requires, we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives–risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract. We must look at two of the most difficult truths about teaching.
The first truth is that what we teach will never “take” unless it connects with the inward, living core of our students’ lives, with our students’ inward teachers.
We can, and do, make education an exclusively outward enterprise, forcing students to memorize and repeat facts without ever appealing to their inner truth–and we get predictable results: many students never want to read a challenging book or think a creative thought once they get out of school. The kind of teaching that transforms people does not happen if the student’s inward teacher is ignored.
The second truth is even more daunting: we can speak to the teacher within our students only when we are on speaking terms with the teacher within ourselves.
The student who said that her bad teachers spoke like cartoon characters was describing teachers who have grown deaf to their Inner guide, who have so thoroughly separated inner truth from outer actions that they have lost touch with a sense of self. Deep speaks to deep, and when we have not sounded our own depths, we cannot sound the depths of our students’ lives.
Identity and Integrity in Teaching, by PARKER J. PALMER.
Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge–and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.
In fact, knowing my students and my subject depends heavily on self-knowledge. When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my unexamined life–and when I cannot see them clearly I cannot teach them well. When I do not know myself, I cannot know my subject–not at the deepest levels of embodied, personal meaning. I will know it only abstractly, from a distance, a congeries of concepts as far removed from the world as I am from personal truth.
We need to open a new frontier in our exploration of good teaching: the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. To chart that landscape fully, three important paths must be taken–intellectual, emotional, and spiritual–and none can be ignored. Reduce teaching to intellect and it becomes a cold abstraction; reduce it to emotions and it becomes narcissistic; reduce it to the spiritual and it loses its anchor to the world. Intellect, emotion, and spirit depend on each other for wholeness. They are interwoven in the human self and in education at its best, and we need to interweave them in our pedagogical discourse as well.
By intellectual I mean the way we think about teaching and learning–the form and content of our concepts of how people know and learn, of the nature of our students and our subjects. By emotional I mean the way we and our students feel as we teach and learn–feelings that can either enlarge or diminish the exchange between us. By spiritual I mean the diverse ways we answer the heart’s longing to be connected with the largeness of life–a longing that animates love and work, especially the work called teaching…
INSTITUTIONS AND THE HUMAN HEART
My concern for the “inner landscape” of teaching may seem indulgent, even irrelevant, at a time when many teachers are struggling simply to survive. Wouldn’t it be more practical, I am sometimes asked, to offer tips, tricks, and techniques for staying alive in the classroom, things that ordinary teachers can use in everyday life? I have worked with countless teachers, and many of them have confirmed my own experience: as important as methods may be, the most practical thing we can achieve in any kind of work is insight into what is happening inside us as we do it. The more familiar we are with our inner terrain, the more sure-footed our teaching–and living–becomes. I have heard that in the training of therapists, which involves much practical technique, there is a saying: “Technique is what you use until the therapist arrives.” Good methods can help a therapist find a way into the client’s dilemma, but good therapy does not begin until the real-life therapistjoins with the real life of the client. Technique is what teachers use until the real teacher arrives, and we need to find as many ways as possible to help that teacher show up. But if we want to develop the identity and integrity that good teaching requires, we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives–risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract.
Parker Palmer Shorts
- Teaching and Leading– Part 1 (3:58). Fear.
- Teaching and Leading– Part 2 (3:39). Shared Inquiry.
- Myth of the Individual– (1:52). Community.
Week 1 Activity
Earn Your Badge
How to Give Feedback
An important part of your active learning will be to read and give feedback on other learners worksheets. Please give feedback to different learners each week. This will ensure that all learners are getting feedback each week. Your feedback should fundamentally be focused on essential intellectual standards and should be constructive and respectful in nature. Below are the intellectual standards and questions you should use when you give feedback – and encourage your students to use – explicitly on a daily basis as you engage in online classroom discussions with them, and as they work together.
Provide feedback on “intellectual moves”
This process of giving and receiving feedback can be used in most online learning situations and when deeply internalized, can lead to improved thinking and learning. As you learn the process, you should consider bringing this into your online course. An important part of this process is that you will want to work closely together and help one another grow and develop. One of the hallmarks of critical thinkers is their ability to assess their own reasoning accurately. Let’s work together to come closer to that goal as we move through the workshop.
As you comment on each other’s work, you will develop the ability to better critique your own thinking and work using intellectual standards. Please invite constructive critique of our thoughts and our work. This is an essential disposition of the critical thinker.
Note: Receiving evaluative feedback using the standards should not be taken personally when the feedback captures a potential weakness. We can always improve our reasoning and should be willing to accept feedback – this shows intellectual humility.