Yesterday I was thinking about how to apply the concepts of this course to my real life. I am not a teacher so the ideas don’t directly relate to me - I work for an LMS provider and am taking this MOOC for a better understanding of the teacher (and student) experience in an online setting. So I’ve been struggling with trying to figure out how to use what we’ve learned in real-life situations because these new ideas will vanish in a poof!
if they are not practiced.
Then I had a brainwave. It seems that there are parallels that can be drawn between the difficulties encountered with online teaching and those seen when managing (or working with) remote employees. In both groups, there is the risk that the students (co-workers) can feel isolated, have difficulties understanding the material needed to do the work, experience time and geographical issues, etc. So for me the question becomes: can I apply the concepts learned for successful online teaching to a geographically dispersed workforce?Disclaimer: this still doesn’t directly relate to what I do in my daily life since I am neither a manager nor a remote employee, but I think I’m getting closer to seeing how to put these ideas into practice.
Next step: noodling on how these ideas can be applied in my specific workplace.
Blogging seems to be a great way to connect with whatever online community you are part of. But I think that in order to communicate effectively, good writing skills are a "must". My writing skills are not well developed. I stink at it. I have 2 Math degrees and one of the reasons why Math appealed to me is because I wouldn't have to write essays! Equations are much more succinct. Easier. Direct and to the point.
And yet...... without good writing skills, a person loses the potential to communicate ideas with their comrades. Who knows how many great ideas withered into oblivion because they were not well expressed? I read others who have posted blogs for How to Teach Online MOOC
and their words seem to flow like water. Or silk? I don't know, sometimes it seems that the perfect word is just out of grasp. Hidden somewhere in the mist.
I guess that I ought to consider taking a writing skills class as my next MOOC.
Although there seem to be many concepts that contribute to successful online teaching, here are the four that really speak to me.
My favourite teacher was my first year calculus professor. He was vibrant and active - sometimes running up the lecture hall stairs into the audience with excitement over the topic that he was presenting. He knew his stuff inside and out. He called on his students to answer questions, even when they were clearly trying to avoid his gaze, no hiding in that class! He made us stand on our feet and get our brains in gear. His assignments made me think about calculus in a different way - not just in the form of equations but also graphs and real-world applications. Who knew that physical phenomena could be described by mathematical models! He dealt with performance problems proactively, meeting with students who were struggling to find a way to help them be successful.
If I could be half as impressive in my online presence, that would be an accomplishment.
The research that I've done so far has strongly indicated that it's not enough to just transfer face-to-face courses into online tools; the course needs to be transformed in order for students to be successful in the new format. Makes sense, but I don't yet know what that actually means. There is one catchphrase that I found to be particularly interesting - "content is king" vs. "content is obsolete". I think that it is tempting to think of it as being an all-or-nothing proposition and perhaps the biggest concern that I have is that the "content is obsolete" school of thought can be interpreted as meaning that courses should be "transformed" into purely social learning with no real role for the instructor at all. With so much information freely available on the Web and students very likely to be more skilled at technology than the instructor, what value does the instructor end up providing?
I've decided to try out my first MOOC called "How to Teach Online". I think it will be pretty interesting and I'm excited about it.
First task: an "about me" questionnaire. Here are the questions:
- What is your intention for this workshop (why are you here)?
- What issues do you think are important?
- How will you contribute?
- How would you like to see community develop among participants?
- These types of workshops are new for most people. In fact about 90% don’t even participate. How will you overcome the fear of learning in the open and the frustration of using new technology, courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?
And here are the answers for little ole me.
- It's a topic that interests me. I work for an LMS provider and I don't think that I really appreciate what the teacher's experience is (much less the student experience) in an online learning environment. I think this will be a great way to bone up on it and since it's something that falls into my circle of interest, all the better.
- Goodness gracious, this is a big question! I don't have any "real world" experience with online teaching so at best I'll be guessing, but I would say getting (and keeping) students involved in the course and knowing when (and how!) to reach out to them are the keys to student success.
- Sharing my thoughts and (very limited) experience with the group. I'm not a good writer and I don't have much time to be my own editor (my 11-month old daughter keeps me hopping) but I'll do the best I can to be clear and concise.
- Lots of interaction! Positive reinforcement and sharing ideas.
- Fear isn't the issue - potential lack of time is the problem. Wouldn't it be nice to have the time to give each of our interests the time and attention they deserve? Trying to fit it all in when I can is the key for me.
So let's get 'er going! :D