— Greg Walker (@gregaloha) October 7, 2013
Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 3 PM – 4 PM Hawaii Standard Time (HST). World Clock
There is no more important pedagogical role for teachers than the design of learning tasks and assessment. An authentic learning approach enables educators to design tasks and assessments that are authentic because they are ‘cognitively real’, and they focus on students collaboratively creating genuine products that are polished and professional. Authentic learning can be very challenging to design because of this need to create such all-encompassing tasks that effectively form the basis of a whole topic or unit of study. In this presentation, I will focus on the importance of creating a real product as an outcome of an authentic task, and discuss with participants some of the difficulties and benefits associated with this challenge.
- Blackboard Collaborate session: http://goo.gl/3s3lV
- If you’re new to Blackboard Collaborate visit the Getting Started page.
By Jan Herrington
Dr Jan Herrington is a Professor of Education at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, where she teaches in the educational technology area in the School of Education, including a compulsory first year unit in the BEd called ‘Living and Learning with Technology’. She has been active in the promotion and support of the effective use of educational technologies in learning in schools and universities for over two decades. In this time, she has co-written or edited a range of books specifically for teachers in higher education on a variety of technology and teaching-related subjects, including Authentic learning environments in higher education (with Anthony Herrington), and most recently, A guide to authentic e-learning (with Thomas C Reeves and Ron Oliver) which was winner of the AECT Outstanding Book of the Year Award in 2010.
Jan’s current research focuses on authentic learning, the design of effective online learning environments for schools and higher education, and mobile learning. She has led two ARC grants investigating authentic tasks and the design-research approach. She has published over 150 refereed journal articles, conference papers and chapters. She was the Project Leader on the ALTC funded project: New technologies: New pedagogies (2006-2008), which investigated pedagogies appropriate to mobile learning. She is a former Fulbright Scholar who, in 2002, conducted research in authentic learning environments at the University of Georgia, USA. She has won many awards for her research including the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) Young Researcher of the Year Award, and several Outstanding Paper awards at international conferences, most recently at ascilite 2010, Global Learn 2011, and IADIS, 2012.
Given the differences between teaching face-to-face and teaching online, how can we faculty members capture the best parts of “what works” in their courses across different delivery modes? How can we demonstrate in online course delivery the characteristics of the most effective teachers? How can online faculty members best “make a difference” with their online students?
Most of the literature I read about on online pedagogy focuses on “best practices” (e.g., Keengwe & Kidd, 2010). Since the early days of online learning, there have been suggestions about how technologies can be used to enhance collaborative learning opportunities (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996). More recently, reviewers have identified several best practice principles related to communicating clear goals and expectations; incorporating multiple active learning opportunities; providing frequent, prompt, and constructive feedback; and creating teacher support resources (e.g., Berge, 2002; Grandzol & Grandzol, 2006; Puzziferro & Shelton, 2009).
All of these best practice suggestions make good sense and are useful for online teaching. These include efforts to provide constructive and individualized feedback to students; facilitating student interaction, involvement and learning; and paying attention to how a course is organized and how teacher presence is enhanced. In all of these efforts, exemplary teachers strive to convey their expectations for the students.
However, if becoming an outstanding teacher merely entails implementing recommended best practices, then there would be many more outstanding teachers than there currently are. Clearly, there are good and bad (or more and less effective) ways to implement these practices. There seem to be things that cannot simply be borrowed, copied, or plugged into courses. I am wondering what are these less tangible attributes that are the essential characteristics of the best teachers.
In addition to a focus on the use of specific tools or techniques, I would like to know more about the ways that online teachers can create the kinds of learning environments and experiences that characterize the best teachers.
Here s an update from my blog for the course, still catching up for week four but have been inspired to change my main blog through all the learning on this course sineadourke.com and have a load of new followers so am heartened that I am making progress in this brave new virtual world of learning ! Thank you for your oh-so-generous course. http://sineadyism.edublogs.org/
My reflections in week 4 are a kind of mix of end of week 3 and week 4. So what did I do? I watched a recording of week 3 round-up and it felt like an “aha” moment – yes, I think I’m finally beginning to get my head round the Community of Inquiry theoretical framework And it’s about time too – I’ve seen/read about it numerous times, but what I found really helpful were all the annoying (!) HOW questions Greg kept on asking: So, how will that look? How can you stimulate learners’ interest?
My to do’s/think abouts/memorable sayings/comparisons from the week 3 round up:
Blog posts I read: my two cents to audio feedback/no paper trail & voice threads/discussion forums: I read most of the blog posts and responded to some– a special thanks to Julio, Tanya, Sara and Jim for their very interesting and thought provoking contributions – 2 comments:
There has been quite a lot of discussion going on about audio feedback not leaving a paper trail – yes, this can be a problem which is why I usually give each student a written feedback sheet with minimal comments (like Tanya) which highlights the main good points/needs work points as well audio feedback. This means that I can also quickly look to see if a student has made any progress when resubmitting work without having to listen to my audio feedback.
Jim & Julio – you both raised a very valid question, namely: “Do discussion forums gain anything from implementing audio threads?” I personally feel they do in my EFL/ESP classes, which is why I include this mode (and not only/always written forum posts). I feel it gives my students valuable speaking practice – German is their mother tongue. It also means I can give them feedback on their pronunciation, e.g. word stress, intonation, connected speech.
Other things that I did: I read some of the suggested articles and listened to a recording of Debbie Morrison’s webinar on how to promote critical thinking in the online classroom, which I very much enjoyed – thank you, Debbie!
Here are my take aways/some of the things that I totally agree with:
Some discussion prompts:
Activities mentioned which I really liked and want to try out soon:
I also watched Linda Elder’s recorded webinar and totally agree with what she said about content being the product of critical thinking, and that lecturers tend to teach/lecture “this & that & this & that …” Will have a closer look at www.criticalthinking.org. And Greg’s final comment: Anything worthwhile is not easy; it takes commitment
So what?What I’ve learned this week?/ What now?/What will I do differently in the future? /What I want to remember:
Yes, we’re more than half way through this MOOC – it feels like a long time probably because it’s been a pretty intensive time and learning experience for me. Thank you, everyone!
Something that could be improved from my perspective (i.e. living in Europe/12 hour time difference) is the times of the webinars. Personally, I’d have preferred anything before 12 noon (Hawaii time zone). Would have meant that I could have joined in more often, which I really enjoyed being able to do on 2 occasions. But it was great that recordings were made – I presume week 4 round up was recorded? I want to watch that too Right, that’s me. I’m probably not going to be around next week, because I’m off to France (poor me!) with 6 girlfriends for a week, and I don’t think we’ll have internet access in the old stone house we’ve rented. But I’m sure that I’ll be able to catch up when I get back. So have a great week 5, one and all! Mahalo!
Thank you, Jim, for revisiting so many interesting posts in your blog: http://jimifac.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/tomooc-fishing-in-week-4/
I was especially interested your review of Julio‘s posts. Thanks, Julio, for such thoughtful posts! :
1) I, too, worry about the audio file/voice message not leaving a paper/typed trail. In fact, that’s my biggest concern. However, the way I use the audio files just sort of complements or emphasizes the written feedback the students receive on their essays. If I were a student, I would definitely need the written feedback trail. And, I agree with you that discussion forums with audio files would leave me feeling at loose ends. After Heather’s (?) presentation about allowing students to use a variety of tools (audio, visual, etc.) to introduce themselves, I thought maybe audio would a great option. But now, I definitely pull back from that idea.
2) I’m trying to wrap my mind around your really insightful comment, Julio:
I can’t help but feel that teamwork, like some other strategies (such as webinars), are carryovers from F2F learning contexts. In other words, in classrooms with 20-50 students, small groups or teams are a practical alternative to everyone shouting all at once. Online, the conditions are different, and the purposes for certain strategies that are useful in onground classes may not be as relevant online. Perhaps we ought to reverse engineer the practice of teams: begin with the purposes of teamwork then explore purely online strategies for achieving them. In this way, form follows function.
I was really struck by that last line. I often feel like something genuine is missing in a lot of the group work. Like the tail is wagging the dog. This comment struck me fully this week because, in my f2f developmental writing class, I decided to try something new.
In the past, the course has been designed because of dept guidelines in way that created this pattern: Assign an essay. Teach a mode (eg., compare/contrast) and read sample essays. Give students a few sample topics and let them explore their own (eg., two bosses you can contrast, two social media tools, two places, (yawn!)etc.) Put them into random groups (some ability based, some content/topic based, etc.) to prewrite and peer review. It has always seemed so flat to me. Where ‘s the true motivation to share, inquire, explore, and write vigorously?
Yesterday, I flung open the doors at the beginning of the process, telling them they would have to discover any common interests or experiences they have, group themselves, and then talk about various “ways in” to discovering their specific topics within that group and, ultimately, get around to figuring out how to use compare/contrast as a mode to further their thinking and their writing. So, I asked: Anyone interested in traveling? Anyone have a regret they could write about? Anybody a driven athlete? Anybody think about technology a lot?
Then, I left them to discover each other, to discover what they would possibly want to work on as a group that could generate different perspectives and interesting dialogue.
I hope to see individual essays emerge in each group under the umbrella of one common broad interest and the essays will sort of end up being anthologies that can then be shared with the other groups. But, who knows what they’ll do. They may actually start writing in reaction to each other. That would be great! I always talk to my students about the need to see their college writing as additions to the academic conversation that exists around them (rather than as downloading and regurgitating information), so that’s my hope here — for them to start senses what it feels like to be in an academic community and conversation.
Anyway, the essays may end up looking the same as they always look from semester to semester, but these students need a chance to take control of their group-making and discussion and become more “alive.” So, there you have it: That’s why Julio’s comment about the form following function really struck me. I hope that makes some sort of sense! Hard to describe, but it feels like a significant shift in empowering the students to create group work — rather than be assigned to groups — and to see it as theirs and as meaningful exchange.
Now, I have to think about what this means for my online writing classes! Hmmm…
I really enjoy this week’s video in which Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.
The model is based on the three distinct and interdependent elements (Why, How, What) that makes any person or organization function at its highest ability. I feel that the approach gave me a stronger sense of my own purpose and my motivation increased. I look forward to start using this in practice, not just in my teaching but also my personal life.
Tanya, in Week 3 catch-up/ thank you’s & Techie Questions about Voice Messages (10/3/13), tested Veronica’s ideas re audio feedback on student papers/projects. She tried TurnItIn’s “new voice message tool,” “Adobe Pro’s voice embed tool,” and ScreenCastOMatic. Re the last, she says, “I’ve tried both ScreenCastOMatic options of QuickTimePlayer and WindowsMedia MP4s and AVI files. I’m also experimenting to find out if Laulima/Sakai limits the size of the attachment sent via Messages. I think it does.”
Thanks, Tanya, for doing this! It saves me and others who are interested a lot of time and effort. My feelings re audio in this role is torn. On the one hand, I realize it does give a more human “face” to comments, but I’m not totally convinced that text doesn’t do the same, though in a different way via tone, persona, etc. On the other hand, part of the review process is to create a log of past performances to guide future growth and to measure growth, and for this, text is very efficient. The result is a performance continuum (or record) rather than isolated bits of feedback. I’d think audio comments, even if only a few minutes long, might take time to review — for the teacher as well as students. For example, I can scan a text transcript quickly for info I need, but searching a video or recording is a hassle. Thus, even if the technical issues could be worked out, audio recordings may not be worth the extra effort they require. When the purpose is to convey info on problems and strengths in a student’s paper, perhaps the best medium is the one that’s quickest, easiest, and most effective. However, this decision may be a matter of teacher preference, and buy-in may be a critical factor in student success.
Sara, in Week 4 Activity Post — 10/3/13, says, “I find that students don’t know how to think critically.” In the context of her post, I understand where she’s coming from. However, I don’t think she means that “students don’t know how to think critically.” Of course they do — but maybe not in the areas and in the ways that we deem important in our fields of study. The fact is, the vast majority of human beings are excellent critical thinkers. The key, for teachers, is to tap into that natural ability by helping students connect it to the teacher’s topics. Students may need to learn new labels for what they already do, and they may need to learn how to refine their thinking, but we shouldn’t forget that teaching is often reminding students about what they already know and showing them how to transfer prior learning to newer contexts. In short, ignorance is relative.
Sara mentions a problem in Dr. Elder’s session: “I felt like most of [the] session was spent explaining what critical thinking was. I was looking for specific examples about how to implement it into a training or class and how to engage student in that thinking.” Most teachers are familiar with critical thinking principles in F2F settings, so their interest is in implementation in online contexts. She leaves us with a comment that I’d like to echo: “I would still like to know what others do besides asking probing questions to encourage critical thinking in their students. I know there must be more strategies out there that would reach out to a more varied audience of learners and I would love to hear about them.”
Ida Brandao, in “MOOC How to Teach Online” (9/28/13), says, “I must confess that I have great difficulty to follow synchronous communication, for professional reasons, for reasons that one forgets the timings. So, most of the synchronous events I watch as recorded sessions.” I’m like Ida. While I’m watching the linear real-time progression slowly unravel, I keep wondering, Couldn’t this have been provided in text, for me to review at my own leisure, at my own pace, in my own way? Then again, I may be asking all the wrong questions.
Julio C. Castro, in “Suggested Reflections (week 3)” (10/2/13), says, “It is a tricky situation when you have to put together teams of students who have not met before in a on-site course. But to do it in an online class, it is even more difficult. My take on this is that, even though many instructors practice this, the students have to figure out themselves how to pair up, the instructor only needs to create the right environment.” I agree that teamwork in an online class is “even more difficult.” I can’t help but feel that teamwork, like some other strategies (such as webinars), are carryovers from F2F learning contexts. In other words, in classrooms with 20-50 students, small groups or teams are a practical alternative to everyone shouting all at once. Online, the conditions are different, and the purposes for certain strategies that are useful in onground classes may not be as relevant online. Perhaps we ought to reverse engineer the practice of teams: begin with the purposes of teamwork then explore purely online strategies for achieving them. In this way, form follows function.
Julio, in “Activity Reflection (week 3)” (10/1/13), says, “It got me curious because I thought that maybe this is just some kind of resistance to the use of new technology or maybe there is indeed no foundation on the usefulness of this system in online learning. So, I think I have found a problem I liked to explore possible solutions to, that has really excited me.” Good point, Julio. My guess is that audio is simply not as efficient as text in forums. In discussion forums using text, we have a visual sense of the parts and the whole. If all were in audio, we’d lose that sense of location and finding and tracking individual posts would be baffling. Still, I applaud your spirit of inquiry and encourage your exploration.
Julio says, “I guess the big questions is whether discussion forums gain anything from implementing audio threads, here at UF there is no guidelines on how students use the tool, I think this time I will spend some effort on creating these guides to help students create a truly engaging community through voice and text.” I’d begin with this big question, too: Do “discussion forums gain anything from implementing audio threads”?
Leanne Riseley, in “Making Sense of Connecting with Learners and Creating Community” (10/1/13), says, “I created a new page with all of the technologies we use in the course on a single page. This page has video tutorials, resources, and links to tech support. In the past, I had the technology listed in my course syllabus and throughout the course modules, but now it is all in one place.” I slowly came to this “solution,” too. I use WordPress blogs for course info and developed a separate blog called “course resources,” a central location for info that’s repeated in all the separate course blogs. Course maintenance and info flow has become much more efficient.
Leanne says, “I’ve used teams in my online course for the last four years, constantly reviewing and revising the process each semester. A small change that I will be making – I have always named my teams 1, 2, 3, etc. and encouraged the teams to pick their own names.” Please see my comment, above, to Julio re teams.
Example 6: Wondering what you should do for the participation portion of our class?
What do I mean by a substantive post?
The following are some ideas to set the stage for substantive participation for the development of your critical thinking skills:
- Ensure that the posting contributes to the overall discussion thread that is being developed. Your response must contain some reference back to the original discussion question. Stay on track by always referring back to that original discussion question.
- Try to use your posting to add value to the discussion. This is more effective than simply responding to meet a requirement.
- Check to see that the posting expands on the main theme (in the discussion question, or assignment posting).
- Make sure your posting is at least 75-150 words.
Other Ideas for Participation
- Share a related experience.
- Comment on others’ experiences.
- Ask students questions about their ideas/experiences.
- Consider an idea being discussed, and offer a different perspective on it.
- Describe an interesting idea from the week’s reading, and explain what insights you gained from it.
- Ask the group a question about the week’s reading.
- Disagree (respectfully, of course) with a point that someone else has made.
- Discuss a related issue on which you would like some feedback.
- Describe how you have applied the recent course concepts to your personal/professional life.
- Share another resource you have used as you explored the course topics.
I thought I’d share this NY Times article about how and why college students do not use e-mail: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/fashion/technology-and-the-college-generation.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Interesting — they feel it’s antiquated! Aaagh! I AM old! I take to heart the additional comment in the article that some students who might consider using e-mail shy away from it because they worry about the etiquette (eg., what do I put in the subject line? how do I address my instructor? etc.) . This made me think I’ll add a little lesson about that at the beginning of each semester. The authors go on to say how many of us veteran e-mail users do not composing effective messages, so how can we expect our students to use this tool effectively?
I also liked Heather Farmakis’s take on introducing herself to her classes. http://facultyecommons.org/building-rapport-establishing-relationships-in-online-courses/ I’d love to do something like this online, and I like the idea of telling students about our own educational journeys. When I share parts of my experience as a student, they are all ears.
I reflected on the “sense of puzzlement> info exchange> through “applying new ideas” quite a bit and realized that sense of puzzlement is so quickly passed over at times. Students need to puzzle, resist puzzling, and don’t really realize that’s what’s happening. Instead they just feel uncomfortable and fearful. I’d like to highlight this sequence for them and help them understand, “It’s all good!, ” but if they get stuck there in the puzzlement and it’s not generating the next steps of learning, they have to reach out for help.
And, I added a thought-provoking image to my home page with some questions to prompt their thinking. I change it up weekly or every other week, but now, I just have to figure out if it’s too much to ask them to respond to such images as well or to give them a place where they can voluntarily discuss it. I’m finding anything voluntary doesn’t get attention. Sometimes, enough is enough. Students are so busy! Just putting the image and question up there for now may be just fine.
We talked about how can you really begin to id yourself as a reader? Make it part of your social identity. They’re responding to it well. The students are sharing all sorts of interests and reading experiences. This week I threw it out to them: “How do you want to continue with this blogging experiment? How can we sustain your interest and expand your interactions?” This is new to me… I want this to become their baby; we’ll see if we can make it happen.
Have also been incredibly busy this week so am not quite up to speed – but have been reading some very interesting posts and managed to watch a recording of Monday’s webinar. Hope to find some time tomorrow to catch up and wish you all a great week 4 round up – I’ll be fast asleep – it’s from 1-2 am for me! Cheers! Veronica
I was hit by a nasty, nasty cold this week, so I’m a bit behind, but I want to thank Rachel, Greg, Veronica, Sara D., Dawn and others for responding to my blog and offering tips on discussion forums,etc. As a new blogger,I have yet to figure out how to respond directly to your comments without e-mailing you. (I don’t want to set up an edublog account just to be able to respond to those of you using edublog.) Two of my to-do’s take-aways is to add a rubric for discussion posts and more clearly define my expectations for their responses to each other. I do provide exemplars and I chime in to applaud students’ worthwhile posts and to ask more questions to prompt further thinking. And, I do grade their posts, but these two additions may help. Mahalo!
Veronica, thank you as well for your post on using audio recordings to add the “human touch.” This became my focus this week. It raised a lot of questions and some techie frustration. Here, I’ll launch into a how-to discussion that may not interest most folks (especially since you’re all on Week 4!, but I thought I’d put it out here:
I find my online writing students love my audio comments. Ones that had been lurking also seemed to become more engaged. I started using them when TurnItIn.com offered a new voice message tool last year. It gives an instructor 3 minutes of recording time, so I had to get used to being concise. I also liked it because I found myself focusing on positive feedback more and I felt more personally connected to my students. In addition, I found it saved me from additional wrist and back aches because I wasn’t typing as much. (Ahhh! The hazards of this kind of work!
This week, however, I returned to experimenting with other voice tools since I’d like to interact this way outside of TurnItIn.com. I experimented with using Adobe Pro’s voice embed tool and I thought, “This is slick and easy!” I saved their essays as pdfs with my comments and just clicked Insert voice memo. Nope! Several of my students couldn’t see the speaker icon in the pdfs. I researched this but got completely overwhelmed because it seems students with different hardware and software will experience different luck with this. Forget it!
So, then I tried ScreenCastOMatic which is also easy and slick. ( I had contacted my instructional tech team about all this and they recommend it again.) I loved it because I could scroll through the essay on the screen and talk my written comments, etc. But, I’m hearing from students who say they can’t open it with their media players. Harrumph! I’ve tried both ScreenCastOMatic options of QuickTimePlayer and WindowsMedia MP4s and AVI files. I’m also experimenting to find out if Laulima/Sakai limits the size of the attachment sent via Messages. I think it does.
So, these are the challenges that instructors face when experimenting. If anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them! I don’t want to give up on this.
I was on holiday and could not make all the activities, but I synthesized here the most important ideas for me of the previous weeks.
Critical Thinking — Creating a Natural Critical Thinking
This week I’ve really had to pull out my thinking cap. I believe that teaching and encouraging critical thinking is one of the most difficult things we do especially on the collegiate level. Often, especially now with all of the required testing, I find that students don’t know how to think critically. They have spent so many years in a system that has been so focused on teaching to the standardized tests, student aren’t given the tools to think much beyond regurgitating information spoon fed to them. To me this really causes issues on the collegiate level and leaves me wondering just what we can do to overcome this. I was hoping this week to learn techniques that could help.
With that question in my mind, I selected items this week that I hoped would guide me toward activities I could share with the instructors I teach so that they could in turn use them in their online classrooms to encourage critical thinking.
1. Briefly describe what you did.
This week I watched the two webinars (both the How to Promote Critical Thinking and the Engaging Students webinars) and was able to complete two of the readings. The two readings I selected were Online vs. Traditional Course Evaluation Formats and Critical Thinking in Asynchronous Discussions. I chose the first because I feel that the thoughts of our students can better help us design our courses and to determine what those thoughts are we need to evaluate our courses. I chose the second because I was hoping to discover ways in which we can encourage more critical thinking in the online classroom.
2. So what?
1. Describe why you did what you did. What are your feelings about what you did?
Like I said before, I chose these items in hopes of getting more ideas about just how I could implement more critical thinking into the courses being designed and taught by the instructors I work with. For the most part, I felt a little disappointed in the material covered this week. I was able to gain a few things from Debbie Morrison’s webinar and from Greg Walker’s article, but for the most part, I felt like most of Dr. Elder’s session was spent explaining what critical thinking was. I was looking for specific examples about how to implement it into a training or class and how to engage student in that thinking.
2. How will this help you?
I will be able to take pieces of what was covered in both the Morrison session and the Walker paper and use those as I design trainings and pass the information I’m learning on to the instructors I work with. The discussion prompts from the Morrison webinar will be most helpful as I can use these as suggested starting points for instructors. I will use what I learned from Walker’s paper to suggest to instructors how they might create better discussion boards that inspire more, deeper thinking.
3. What did you learn from this experience?
I learned that it’s important, especially on discussion boards, to ask probing, multidimensional questions that challenge students. I learned that when this is done correctly, students take their learning into their own hands and learn more from the experience.
3. What now?
1. What changes did you make?
2. What will you do differently in the future?
I think the primary change I will make and what I will do differently in the future is to give more consideration to the types of questions I am asking for discussion boards and journals. I think that with slightly different wording I could make my questions much more effective when it comes to encouraging critical thinking and student learning.
3. What do you still have to learn?
I would still like to know what others do besides asking probing questions to encourage critical thinking in their students. I know there must be more strategies out there that would reach out to a more varied audience of learners and I would love to hear about them.
I read the text of the website and some other articles of the readings (and the secondary literature) whose titles interested me. Then I made a sensemaking artifact, consisting of a mindmap with the ideas I found more practical for my professional scenario.
When it comes to technques and strategies to make my job as a teacher better, I rather synthesize than analyze, that’s why I chose a mindmap. I feel satisfied because I can access and read it in case I will need it. I created a practical tool for me.
I learn two things: first a new tool to make online mindmaps (gifly) and also to identify when a threaded discussion does not promote critical thinking.
⁃ What changes did you make?
Since I do not teach online, I couldn’t change anything.
⁃ What will you do differently in the future?
I will definitely promote learning through questions in case I teach online.
⁃ What do you still have to learn?
How to make good questions. I have no experience.
when reading the activities for week 4, I had a doubt about this statement: “2. How do you facilitate discussions in ways that promote critical thinking and discourages interaction?”. I have always read that interaction is needed for promoting knowledge. I do not understand why a “good” question should discourage interaction. Can someone clarify me what is meant in this context by “interaction”?
Thanks a lot,
Another great table from the CTL at the University of Texas, Austin, that captures flipped instruction differences, particularly as they might play out in higher ed.
Well, my participation in the course has dropped off significantly. I am bummed, because when I engage I find it really valuable. Ironically, it has made me give more attention to the online course I am teaching, which takes time away from this course! I basically have way too much on my plate- just moved into a fixer-upper, I have 2 jobs, working on my PhD, and being the primary caretaker of a 3 year old. I may just have to tune in when possible and pore over the archives over winter break!
Pat, in “Did we miss the point” (Online Learning, 9/30/13), shares an excellent resource on online discussions with a decided emphasis on online: Vanessa Paz Dennen’s “From Message Posting to Learning Dialogues: Factors affecting learner participation in asynchronous discussion” (Distance Education, 2005). According to Pat, “The article has specific examples of what is being discussed and how it was being used in the discussion forums.”
Following are excerpts from Dennen — with my comments in italics:
The research question for this naturalistic study was: “How does the design and facilitation of different types of asynchronous discussion activities impact student participation in terms of quantity, quality, timing, and nature of messages posted?”
Asynchronous discussions are unique to online learning. There is no traditional instruction method that is truly an analogue to asynchronous discussion, and thus this medium needs to be examined closely in order to generate knowledge that will help online instructors learn and make informed decisions about how to design and facilitate asynchronous course interactions.
Interaction requires “two discussants.” Just because students were composing and posting messages within these classes did not mean that they were engaging in dialogue. In order for dialogue to be present there needed to be evidence of at least two discussants who were communicating in response to each other.
Feedback and assessment are not necessarily the same. Assessment here refers to the assignment of a grade; feedback is a related issue, although feedback and assessment are not quite the same thing. An instructor might provide feedback without assessing a grade, and a grade may be assessed without providing any other feedback than the numerical or letter rating.
The impact of discussions may be found in “other course assignments.” Intersubjectivity among students was evident in many of the transcripts; in courses where actual dialogue occurred students were negotiating meaning relative to course content with each other. By communicating and pooling their shared experiences, they created a wealth of perspectives from which to draw upon in their other course assignments. Students repeatedly hailed these forums as a good place for exchanging and learning about different viewpoints.
Instructor presence can be established outside of the discussion forum. Instructor presence affected how much, and to whom, students wrote their messages in these courses. It could be established either within, or outside of, the discussion forum, and the most favorable presence seemed to be one that let students know that their messages were being read without taking over the discussion. Instructor presence was related to feedback and assessment; when there was no feedback or assessment, there likely was no instructor presence.
More than one way for instructor to be present. Instructor presence, given these observations, seems to be something that is important in moderation, and that can be achieved in different ways. It was established when students knew in one way or another that their instructor was reading their discussion contributions. [emphasis added]
Instructor domination is a no-no. On one end of the continuum was Dr F, whose classes had a great deal of instructor– student dialogue (he posted about half of all messages) but little peer dialogue. Dr F began most of the discussion threads and monitored the Web boards closely when they were open. His level of attention to the Web boards was admirable, yet created an instructor-centered feeling within the discussions. He responded quickly to student messages, which ensured that they received a response but also shut down the potential for much peer interaction, since students would not likely feel the need to respond when the instructor already had. In this class, students looked to Dr F for confirmation; on the few occasions when he was not present, they were upset. Student comments on the post-course survey indicated that his facilitation strategies caused problems, specifically a feeling of abandonment one week when he was ill and less active and a feeling that peer interaction was not appropriate.
Work smart, not hard. More is not necessarily better in terms of presence, and, as Dr B demonstrated, an instructor need not be a frequent contributor to an online discussion in order to have a presence.
Many online students are nontraditional, and their expectations are different from their traditional counterparts. Many of the instructors and students involved in this study, however, responded that for the non-traditional student socialization in a pure or traditional sense may not be an adequate motivator for generating discussion. . . . Students should be told explicitly that knowing and interacting with classmates will be an important part of their course experience.
Prompts aimed at opinions rather than a correct answer are better. The classes that generated lively discussions, such as Drs B’s and D’s, used discussion prompts that were phrased in a way that allowed everyone to take a different perspective or share their own point of view. . . . For example, if an instructor were to post a question with one clear, expected answer on a discussion board, there would be little use for multiple students to reply once the correct answer was given. Additionally, there would be little reason for students to discuss this topic further. On the other hand, if a discussion question allowed for multiple perspectives to be presented, supported, and argued, there is greater opportunity for students to engage in the activity.
Degree of instructor domination is inversely proportional to student-student dialoguing. An instructor taking an “expert” role had a clear effect on the tone of the discussion, with students writing to the instructor rather than to their peers. . . . Conversational treatment by the instructor generated higher quality student contributions
Conclusion. Further complicating the matter, there does not appear to be one correct or better way to teach via an online medium . . . instead, one’s contextual factors should greatly affect the selection of teaching methods and activities, just as they should in a traditional classroom. . . . Clearly, some approaches to group communication on the Web will better serve instructional purposes than others. . . . The experiences of these classes suggest that it is indeed possible to generate principles of instructional design and facilitation that may apply broadly to online instruction, encouraging student participation that ideally will support learning processes.
I fell behind with creating my artifacts for the MOOC, but have been reading through the resources, viewing the webinars, and reading the discussion posting. I have tried to apply some of what I have learned by modifying the online course I teach. Here are a few things I have done and why.
I feel like I had a pretty good course before taking this MOOC, but making changes, tweaks, and additions will be improve the course and benefit the students.
Everyone knows this and it is proven time and time again, but a “thank you” reminder is always nice. I have been pilfering from all the rubric examples people have posted links to–recently and earlier in the MOOC–and now have a good base to choose from. The best thing besides having an awesome rubric for online discussion is that, by reading them, I understand the expectations for online discussion posts. They have definitely been informative to me and I can see the scaffolding of what separates a good comment from a great one much more clearly.
The Northern Arizona University site was a particular favorite of mine as well because it provided “classroom management” tools as well, like expectations for “attendance” and participation and “nettiquette.”
The four methods of Questioning strategies were a helpful read. I have already, like most teachers, utilized all four (to some extent) in my classroom, but it is nice to see them so clearly defined with key words and examples. The “Socratic” method was the only one where I knew the actual name to the strategy and I rely on that one a lot–often with quite leading questions when necessary. In the physical classroom, it is easy to start the “leading question” and then kind of leave it hanging while my facial expression clearly indicates that I expect someone to follow up. In the online world, I suppose that is what ellipses are for.
Right now the only “online” component to my courses are my announcements on Laulima and my databank of all the materials in Resources. But next semester I want to take everything I have learned about online discussions and move some of the readings and discussion onto the Laulima discussion board.
Re your questions: We have passed the midway point of the course. Two questions for you this week.
1. First, are you interested in continuing this online community? Yes
2. Second, if so, what would that community look like? In other words, what are your suggestions to build an active online community?
Questions seem to be a natural focus in communities. The only threaded forums we have are our blogs. Perhaps individuals could pose questions in their blogs, which would be echoed here on the TOMOOC wall, and the rest of us could log in to reply. Also, if we could all set our blogs for anonymous comments and instant approval, maybe more would reply. Or maybe I’m the only one who is stynied by login requirements before posting and delays for comment approval.
This could also be good practice in creating questions that generate deep thought responses instead of competition for correct answers.
Perhaps the basic groundrule could be that there’s no dumb question.
The following is a quick review of the following authors from the list of resources, including brief excerpts from each: Ken Bain, Debbie Morrison, Greg Walker, Hua Bai, Nega Debela & Berlin Fang, Erst Carmichael and Helen Farrell.
As expected, the packages are labeled “online” but the contents are pretty much standard onground material. The most difficult turn to make in online teaching is the one that separates the F2F mindset from the virtual. The medium is the message, but the message in the online medium is still the F2F instructional framework. But there’s one exception, and that’s Greg Walker, who attempts to match the message with the medium. He says, “Blanchette (2001) found that asynchronous discussions allow for a higher level of cognitive questions that encourage critical thinking,” and the difference, he says, is that “learners have more time to process questions and develop responses.”
Carol B. MacKnight wasn’t included in the list, but she mentions this disconnect between online and F2F orientations: “The question is whether faculty can change their teaching strategies to use online communication tools effectively to help every member in the class go beyond being exposed to content to the point of critically interacting with it” (Teaching Critical Thinking Through Online Discussions, Educause Quarterly, 2000). This article is thirteen years old, and many today may not have a clue what MacKnight means by “bulletin board” in the following statement: “The bulletin board offers the possibility for coaching discussions to take students ideas to the next level to deeper, more intellectual, and reflective learning.” They’re the forerunners of today’s web-based discussion forums, and in the days before the web, they were accessed via modems run on telephone lines.
I like MacKnight’s plain wording in the following list: “Going online, students must have a clear understanding of the goal of the activity and have the necessary social skills to:
• ask the right questions,
• listen to each other,
• take turns and share work,
• help each other learn,
• respect each other’s ideas,
• build on each other’s ideas,
• construct their own understanding, and
• think in new ways.”
Still, the information in the readings is excellent and underscores strategies for incorporating critical thinking into discussions, F2F and online. I’m surprised that the context for critical thinking is limited to discussion outcomes and ignores project outcomes since discussions aren’t usually ends in themselves but tools or means to generate deeper thinking that’s reflected in papers or reports. Bain, however, does allude to this procedural function of discussions: “Because the best teachers plan their courses backward, deciding what students should be able to do by the end of the semester, they map a series of intellectual developments through the course.”
The point is that we may not see the impact of critical thinking activities in the discussions themselves until the culminating project is completed. This final artifact, paper or presentation, is the summative outcome, and it should be factored into the equation (as an independent variable) for successful discussions.
Finally, I’m a writing teacher, and the philosophical background that I share with my colleagues is the classical field of rhetoric. In rhetoric, the study of logical fallacies is fundamental. These fallacies are a classification of the ways in which we, as human beings, fall short in critical thinking. In discussion forums, exercises in applying these fallacies to political arguments, TV commercials, or students’ own analyses could go a long way toward cultivating critical thinking.
Excerpts from Ken Bain’s “What Makes Great Teachers Great?” (Chronicle, 4/9/04):
[Main point:] Create a natural critical learning environment. “Natural” because what matters most is for students to tackle questions and tasks that they naturally find of interest, make decisions, defend their choices, sometimes come up short, receive feedback on their efforts, and try again. “Critical” because by thinking critically, students learn to reason from evidence and to examine the quality of their reasoning, to make improvements while thinking, and to ask probing and insightful questions.
Five essential elements that make up a good [natural] learning environment:
- An intriguing question or problem.
- Guidance in helping students understand the significance of the question…. The best teachers tend to embed the discipline’s issues in broader concerns, often taking an interdisciplinary approach…. Good teachers remind students how the current question relates to some larger issue that already interests them.
- Engages students in some higher-order intellectual activity: encouraging them to compare, apply, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize, but never only to listen and remember.
- Raise[s] important inquiries but challenge[s] students to develop their own explanations and defend them.
- Leaves students wondering: “What’s the next question?” and “What can we ask now?”
In all these examples [of optimal learning environments], students encounter safe yet challenging conditions in which they can try, fail, receive feedback, and try again without facing a summary evaluation. [emphasis added]
Teachers succeed in grabbing students’ attention by beginning a lecture with a provocative question or problem that raises issues in ways that students had never thought about before, or by using stimulating case studies or goal-based scenarios.
The best professors do in class what they think will best help their students to learn outside of class, between one meeting and the next.
Because the best teachers plan their courses backward, deciding what students should be able to do by the end of the semester, they map a series of intellectual developments through the course….
The professors we studied assume that learning facts can occur only when students are simultaneously engaged in reasoning about those facts.
The very best teachers offered a balance of the systematic and the messy.
Excerpts from Debbie Morrison’s “Critical Thinking in the Online Classroom” (Online Learning Insights, 5/24/12):
Community of Inquiry (CoI) model: instructor presence, social presence, cognitive presence
From the educators perspective - we want the student to become interested, in the topic (trigger), and be motivated to explore, ask questions, discuss (exploration), leading students to construct knowledge, learn and think by means of discourse and discussion (integration) and finally to think critically, apply the knowledge to other areas, draw conclusions and demonstrate knowledge (resolution).
Here are some examples of types of activities that support cognitive presence[:] discussion forums, small group activities, forum structured for a debate, reflection activities.
[Successful] cognitive building activities…. provoked the students to explicitly confront others’ opinions.
Excerpts from Greg Walker’s “Critical Thinking in Asynchronous Discussions” (International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, June 2005):
Strategies for using critical thinking in asynchronous discussions: writing activities, using subject matter experts, role playing , questioning (convergent, divergent, evaluative, Socratic).
Effective questioning strategies guide asynchronous discussions and promote critical interaction. Blanchette (2001) found that asynchronous discussions allow for a higher level of cognitive questions that encourage critical thinking. Learners have more time to process questions and develop responses, and the learner’s cognitive level of response often matches the cognitive level of the questions asked. Higher level cognitive and affective questions encourage learners to interpret, analyze, evaluate, infer, explain and self regulate. According to Wilson (2002) there are four types of questions that encourage learners to use higher levels of cognitive, or affective, processes for critical thinking. They are convergent, divergent, and evaluative questions. Blanchette (2001) found that evaluative questions were asked most often in asynchronous discussions. Divergent and evaluative questions generated the most interaction, and evaluative questions provided the greatest motivation for discussion. [Blanchette, J. (2001). Questions in the online learning environment. Journal of Distance Education, 16, 2. Retrieved June 11, 2005.]
Excerpts from Hua Bai’s “Facilitating Students’ Critical Thinking in Online Discussion: An Instructor’s Experience” (Journal of Interactive Online Learning, summer 2009):
This study intended to examine whether introducing this inquiry model [see below] to students as a guide of online postings can facilitate students’ critical thinking.
Garison, Anderson and Archer (2000, 2001) … practical inquiry model …. According to this model, critical inquiry is presented in a sequence of four phases, which are triggering event, exploration, integration and resolution. In the phase of triggering event, students communicate a dilemma or a problem from an experience. In exploration phase, students brainstorm, search for clarification and exchange information. Students’ inquiry in integration phase is characterized by integrating knowledge and information into a concept and creating meaning from the ideas generated in the phase of exploration. In the phase of resolution, students test and implement solution to the problem or issue through real world application. [Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 20 (2-3), 87-105.]
[Results:] In this study, no evidence of resolution was found in the two threads, which may be due to the question that initiated the discussion. The question asked students to talk about their arguments and grounds. It was not designed to engage students in applying and testing the ideas or solutions, which in turn, did not promote students’ thinking in resolution phase. This suggested that to help students’ cognitive activity progress to resolution stage, thought-provoking question needs to be generated to guide and facilitate the discourse toward higher order thinking that involves practical application and problem solving. As King (1995) said, “the level of thinking that occurs is influenced by the level of questions asked. We can use particular questions to induce in students whatever specific thinking processes we wish” (p. 13). [King, A. (1995). Designing the instructional process to enhance critical thinking across the curriculum. Teaching of Psychology, 22, 13-17.]
Most important, text-based communication and asynchronous environment encourage reflective learning, in-depth thinking and meaningful processing of information.
McLoughlin and Luca (2000) found that most of the postings consisted of “comparing and sharing information”, with “little evidence of construction of new knowledge, critical analysis of peer ideas or instances of negotiation” [McLoughlin, C., & Luca, J. (2000). Cognitive engagement and higher order thinking through computer conferencing: We know why but do we know how? Teaching and Learning Forum 2000, Retrieved March 20, 2008.]
Angeli, Valanides and Bonk (2003) examined undergraduate student teachers’ communication in case-based instruction using asynchronous web-based conferencing tool. The results showed that students’ interactions primarily focused on sharing personal experiences and offering personal opinions without reasoning. Little evidence of in-depth discussion and critical thinking was found.[Angeli, C., Valanides, N., & Bonk, C. J. (2003). Communication in a web-based conferencing system: the quality of computer-mediated interactions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34, 31-43.]
Swan, Schenker, Arnold and Kuo (2007) also found that students responded more often to others and discussed in greater depth after they were informed of evaluation criteria of online behaviors. [Swan, K., Schenker, J., Arnold, S., & Kuo, C. (2007). Shaping online discussion: Assessment matters. E-mentor, 1(18). Retrieved March 6, 2008.]
Ertmer et al. (2007) investigated the use of peer feedback in increasing the quality of students’ online discussion. They suggested that requiring students to provide feedback to one another may help to maintain the quality level of postings that has been reached. [Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, et al. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2). Retrieved December 16, 2007.]
Excerpts from Nega Debela and Berlin Fang, “Using Discussions to Promote Critical Thinking in an Online Environment” (Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, 2008):
Roberson (2006) states that “the medieval sacredness of information clashes with the modern deluge of information.” This results in what Roberson calls the “Insanity of the modern university course” in which we “press harder and harder to teach more and more information, while students achieve less and less.” [Roberson, B. (2006, August). Subverting the academic model……so learning can finally take place. Workshop conducted at Marshall University, Huntington, WV.]
Critical thinking skills can be grounded in all real world situations such as political analysis judgment about television reporting (Brookfield, 1987). [Brookfield, Stephen. (1987) Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey Bass]
However, “being critical” is only a small portion of what constitutes critical thinking. More importantly, it is a process to develop a rational position or attitude, to achieve a goal, or to solve a problem. Critical thinking helps us to become better problem solvers and more rational decision makers.
This study has very practical value for other teachers of the course because it explores what is critical thinking that is hailed to be of critical significance for educators, how it can be operationalized, and how it can be cultivated using tools that are already available to us.
[Conclusion:] Students in this qualitative research have liked the format currently being used to teach and enhance critical thinking. The respondents differ in their opinions about the level of the instructor involvement in the discussion. However, there seem to be a general consensus that faculty should be involved as long as they help students to develop skills in their higher-order thinking skills. This shows that faculty members can indeed play the role of helpers in the development of their cognitive skills.
Excerpts from Erst Carmichael and Helen Farrell’s “Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Online Resources in Developing Student Critical Thinking: Review of Literature and Case Study of a Critical Thinking Online Site” (Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 2012):
Guided discovery supports users’ construction of knowledge and their ability to apply this new knowledge to other contexts, and is therefore the architecture most suited to the development of critical thinking. Ideally, Keats and Schmidt (2007) argue, the social interactivity of technology – especially in relation to sharing and discussion of ideas – has the potential to connect HE students to the international community to create a wider socio-political learning environment. This wider environment should provide additional opportunities to develop critical thinking. This categorisation is considered to be appropriate for the case study to be examined in this paper.
This paper reports on a case study of an online Blackboard site at the University of Western Sydney, where analysis of patterns of usage of the online site and qualitative analysis of student feedback provide evidence to support its effectiveness for encouraging students’ critical thinking.
[Conclusion:] This case study demonstrates that many students find online learning about critical thinking to be helpful, stimulating and engaging. It verifies that some students enjoy learning in their own space and time and that this site contained suitable content,
sample texts, practice examples and timely feedback…. Findings in this case study indicate that stand-alone resources can achieve perceived benefits for students…. There is also potential to expand the current site into a freely accessible website, with opportunity for greater national and international interaction together with interesting research opportunities.
A key insight into content (and into thinking) is that all content represents a distinctive mode of thinking. Math becomes intelligible as one learns to think mathematically. Biology becomes intelligible as one learns to think biologically. History becomes intelligible as one learns to think historically. This is true because all subjects are: generated by thinking, organized by thinking, analyzed by thinking, synthesized by thinking, expressed by thinking, evaluated by thinking, restructured by thinking, maintained by thinking, transformed by thinking, LEARNED by thinking, UNDERSTOOD by thinking, APPLIED by thinking. If you try to take the thinking out of content, you have nothing, literally nothing, remaining. Learning to think within a unique system of meanings is the key to learning any content whatsoever. This session, in other words, explores the intimate, indeed the inseparable relationship between content and thinking.
By Dr. Linda Elder
Dr. Linda Elder is an educational psychologist and a prominent authority on critical thinking. She is President of the Foundation for Critical Thinking and Executive Director of the Center for Critical Thinking. Dr. Elder has taught psychology and critical thinking at the college level and has given presentations to more than 20,000 educators at all levels. She has co-authored four books, including Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life, Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life and Twenty-Five Days to Better Thinking and Better Living. She has co-authored eighteen thinker’s guides on critical thinking and co-authors a quarterly column on critical thinking in the Journal of Developmental Education.
Dr. Elder has also developed an original stage theory of critical thinking development. Concerned with understanding and illuminating the relationship between thinking and affect, and the barriers to critical thinking, Dr. Elder has placed these issues at the center of her thinking and her work.
With experience in both administration and the classroom, Dr. Elder understands firsthand the problems facing educators. She is a dynamic presenter who reaches her audience on a person-to person level.
Julio C. Castro in “Essential question (week 3)” (Momenta Learning 9/24/13): “A great way to help my students [put] themselves out there and at the same time, help them generate creative and innovative solutions is by inviting them to create a blog where they can express their ideas and bounce around possible solutions and scenarios with others. The discussion forums I will create for the students to manage on their own while they work on their projects, will include directions on how to set up a blog and I will add that all of the participants interact with those blogs by visiting them and comment on the posts from the author. My hope is that some of them will eventually use the blog as a creative tool later on, on a permanent basis. I will also invite them to create a profile in systems similar to LinkedIn (professional associations) because this exposes you to others that can take a look at your work and provide feedback. Creating projects that can later be shared with others online is a great creative process, at least [it] is working for me so far”1 (emphasis added).
Greg and his staff posted a quote from Brené Brown in the activity description: “I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. And I’ve come to the belief … that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage — to be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest. So let me go on the record and say, vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. To create is to make something that has never existed before. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that.”
Courage, plain and simple, means risk taking. How do we teach courage? This is a tough question. Some would argue that it’s genetic — but I disagree. I think it’s teachable. It begins with parents, but if it’s neglected in the home, then schools and colleges have the responsibility.
When I say to my students, “Have the courage to risk new ideas and to question the status quo,” I’m also saying “Think!”
In my schooling, the best teachers encouraged and became excited by students who took risks in the world of ideas. For them, it wasn’t “my way or the highway” but “take us on the freeway for a ride in your car.” The goal in discussions wasn’t “how to figure out the answer in the teacher’s head” but “to share what’s new in all our heads.”
How do we teach courage? Perhaps the simplest answer is to model it. In an earlier post, I mentioned my freshman comp teacher, A. J. Alexander. He was my first encounter with an authentic teacher, and the impact on me was life changing. He didn’t say be courageous. He was courageous. (Some might even say he was crazy.) In our first session, he sat on the desk in front of the class. Behind him, above the chalkboard, was a “NO SMOKING” sign. He lit a cigarette, smoked it, killed it on the side of the desk, walked over to the waste basket and tossed it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his “Miss May, will you please shut up.” She sat in the front row and was quietly talking to the person next to her while Alexander was lecturing.
Shocking behavior for a teacher. But for a 17-year-old straight out of high school, it was mindblowing. And he was like this, consistently, in all phases of the course. He turned a bunch of us into English majors that fall — students who would’ve said “no way” if you asked us a few months earlier. Literature and writing suddenly became real, pulsing with life and energy — like rock ‘n’ roll — far from the dull gray words stained on yellowed paper in the outdated textbooks we used in high school.
I later learned that courage didn’t always come in piss and fire but also came in subtler packages. But the common denominator was the eyes that lit up when they heard authentic thinking from a student. That connection between student, idea, and teacher is powerful stuff.
We all have built-in crap detectors, and in students they’re probably cranked all the way up. They know BS when they hear it, and for many BS is synonymous with getting good grades. So the first step in courage making may be to be honest. Sounds simple, but hard to do when reward lies in the opposite direction.
When we’re honest, we allow others into the secret places in our minds, and we feel vulnerable. But the alternative is . . .
Being honest, taking risks, having courage — it doesn’t mean posting a photo, video, or bio or being outrageous for its own sake; and it doesn’t mean pouring your heart out or being stupid and putting yourself or others in danger. I think we all recognize it when we see it. We’re engineered by nature to value it. It’s in our DNA. So the answer is within each of us, i.e., if we care to take a look.
1 Julio is responding to the question related to the “Video of the Week“: “If vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change how can you teach your students to be more creative using the Internet?” The video: “Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability,” TED, YouTube, 1/3/11.
How to Promote Critical Thinking in the Online Classroom
Monday, September 30th, 12pm- 1pm, Hawaii Standard Time (HST). World Clock
Overview: The webinar will comprise a 15 to 20 minute presentation on the fundamentals of presence in the online classroom, with a focus on strategies that promote critical thinking. Power point slides will accompany the presentation, and can be made available to participants. Questions from participants will be encouraged.
Webinar Description:Strategies for promoting critical thinking among online students are shared and discussed in this Webinar. Participants will identify the three core principles needed to create an online presence—the foundation of promoting deep and meaningful learning for online students. This interactive session will provide opportunity for discussion, and participants will leave with ideas and tactics for creating a strategy that promotes critical thinking in their own online classroom.
- Blackboard Collaborate session: http://goo.gl/3s3lV
- If you’re new to Blackboard Collaborate visit the Getting Started page.
Rachael in her reply (9/26) to Sarah’s “Week 3 – Activity Reflection“: “In another semester I used blogs instead of discussion boards. Students worked in teams to create an artifact (of individual artifacts) to answer an essential question that was general enough to allow them to choose how they wanted to approach it. They posted to their team blogs and commented on each other’s blogs. It worked out well because they were creating artifacts that were purposeful and contributing to the online community instead of it staying in a ‘closed garden’ in the LMS forums” (emphasis added).
I never actually thought about why I prefer to set up my courses in “public” WordPress blogs and ask my students to do the same for publishing and sharing their drafts. Thus, as I browsed the conversations in our TOMOOC community, Rachael’s comment above jumped out at me.
In a sense, communities are relative constructs without borders, at once a group of people sharing a single space and time as well as a network that’s linked to countless other networks that transcend space and time. It’s difficult to wrap our heads around the idea that the largest community of all is the web, which links billions of people throughout the world in a single Network that comprises all the networks on Earth.
The overwhelming image for me is the individual, via smartphones, tablets, and notebooks, connected to every one of the 2.5 billion people as well as the countless sources of information on the internet.
With this link to the world in our pockets and backpacks, I can’t help but feel that the “‘closed garden’ in the LMS forums” where we, as educators, construct our interactive sessions may be stifling for students and teachers. Why, I wonder, do we build walls around learning when the world’s resources are all around us.
Surely, to prepare our students for the 21st century, we need to make sure that they are capable of creating, sustaining, and leveraging their own presence in the worldwide online community. For them, to be is to be equally at home onground and online.
In a way, what we’re practicing in TOMOOC is a model for the power of learning when it’s open and connected to the internet. In the recent stats shared by the staff, we can see that our conversations are reaching a much wider audience from around the world. In last year’s MOOC, for example, I mentioned Dave Cormier1 in one of my posts and actually received a comment from Dave himself — who wasn’t directly connected to the MOOC.
In an earlier post, I responded to Rachael’s comment re authentic learning. The idea was that learning ought to be as “real” as possible for students, and Rachael’s comment here re “closed” versus “open” learning spaces is a another side of that same coin.
1 “The term MOOC was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island and Senior Research Fellow Bryan Alexander of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education in response to a course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (also known as CCK08). CCK08 . . . was led by George Siemens of Athabasca University and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council” (Wikipedia).