Actors in a MOOC

Theatre Masks by biboarchitect
at clker.com
This week I participated in one of the most engaging online conversations I ever participated in (I have to admit, though, that I am only an average user of online courses).  Jeanette (The Online Teacher) submitted a post discussing her confusion due to a lack of clearly defined expectations in our MOOC.

As this, and other, discussions unfolded during Week 1, I believe we all began to "find our way" and community began to develop.  I am guessing this is exactly as Greg and the other facilitators had planned. I noticed community developed because specific individuals did some very deliberate things.  I began thinking that when I have my online course, I would ask individuals to volunteer to act in the following roles:
  • Community Builder: makes connections between different posts
  • Sergeant at Arms: creates order and structure (eg: adds a blog feed, creates a bookmark page, etc.)
  • Interrogator: ask thought-provoking questions to stir discussion
Perhaps these roles can be rotated each week or month.  What do you think about assigning these roles? Can you think of other roles?



Course Structure: Time or Talent?

If the Shinkansen were used as the standard of measure for
time spent on track, the course would be worth less credits
than if a slower train were used.
In Tony Bates' Nine Steps to Quality Online Learning, he discusses using time spent on the course as a measure to help structure a course.  While I see the logic behind this, I couldn't help but wonder if we need to re-think this model of credits based on average time spent in the course.

In the days of rote memorization and regurgitation, time on task often was a good indicator for performance.  However, in today's learning environment where we focus more on understanding and critical thinking, time on task doesn't always correlate to performance.  In fact, some students who spend long hours on task still may not grasp a strong understanding of concepts and others, who spend little time, may.  How, if at all, could we correlate credit hours to understanding rather than time spent on task?




The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We all have had good teachers, bad teachers and ugly teachers.  (Not sure what makes one bad and another ugly but the title was catchy.)  Regardless if they are good or bad, we can always learn from them.

Following is a video I created for an education course I am currently taking.  It describes the best teacher I ever had.
As for the worst teacher I ever had, I cannot remember.  I can, however, describe the worst teacher my son has ever had. She was a veteran teacher who had not kept up her craft.  She taught at a prestigious school but chose to rest on her laurels.  She yelled at the children, and worse, used intimidation as a classroom management technique.  During that year, my son would come home saying things like, "I'm no good."

In my humble opinion, I also felt she forgot what it was like to be a child.  She expected little children to sit still and listen to a talking head for long periods of time.  And rather than encourage creative and "wild" ideas, she forced the children to conform to a preconceived standard or answer that she thought was right.  It was a tough year but we survived.  Thankfully, I had the opportunity to share feedback and she received it quite well, considering the message.

DOs of teaching:
1. Set high goals for your students...see their potential.
2. Tap into their passions.
3. Manage classroom behavior while encouraging wild ideas.
4. Make sure that all students are keeping up with the coursework.

DON'Ts of teaching:
1. Use intimidation as a classroom management technique.
2. Dumb down your lessons.
3. Smash creativity out of your students by spelling out every aspect of the assignment for them.
4. Forget that learning should be fun!


Aloha!

Introduction
Hi!  I am transitioning into a new career.  After working for a Fortune 500 company for almost 15 years then being a stay-at-home mom for almost 10, I am now working on transitioning into a career in education.  

My intentions
I have been a face-to-face classroom teacher but see a huge potential for transformation in education with online teaching.  I want to learn the best practices thus far and eventually move toward teaching online.

Important issues
I have taken a good number of online classes.  Most have been taught using fairly traditional teaching practices but nothing too transformational.  I'm not sure what the transformation looks like but I have to believe that this mode of teaching offers huge unexplored potential in teaching and learning.

My contributions and community building
I will be an active participant in this community.  Having said that, I recognize that it will require me to overcome the fear of criticism in front of a large and somewhat anonymous audience.  I recently read Brené Brown's Daring Greatly and recommend it.  Her story encourages me to dare greatly and participate in this community in spite of the risk of embarrassment and criticism.  I am also working on reframing criticism and celebrating mistakes.