Connecting with students – Using the tools

When I started teaching online, I started with the “get to know me” slides. I shared some personal information as well as some teaching credentials. My purpose was for my students to get to know me and some of the things I was passionate about. Part of the problem I had with this is that I bored myself! Of course if I was bored with it my students must also be. It was at that point I realized most of my “lecture ” information must be boring as well. I needed to make a connection to my students and then to the material.

First I created a very short video about me. I offered the video to the students before coming into the live session. Most of the student I had spoken to through the email prior to coming into my class as their final project advisor. I felt like I knew most of them but they did not really know me yet. Because of the video and the several back and forth emails a comfort level was developed prior to that session. More importantly I began to create a more interactive session with the use of several Web 2.0 tools. I am no longer the only one directing the conversation. I include all of my students several times through the 1 hour session.

The first thing that happens when collaborating live without knowing the other people in the space is fear.  No one wants to be the first to add to the document or add to the creation. However once that fear is reassured, an amazing amount of learning takes place. I make mistakes and others help me correct them. Once this happens confidence increases and others are wiling to try know ing that help is immediate.

Let’s share a more concrete example. If you are not familiar with Popplet.com please check it out.  It is a real time tool I use for brainstorming or to get know each other. Previous to attending the session all of my students create an account using their school email. Then I invite them to share my Popple during the live session. Most of the students have never used this tool before so it is a great learning experience. I very quickly show them how to use it…double click and type.  Then we start sharing information about ourselves. We add text and images and various ways that we communicate virtually.

But more importantly a community is developing. They begin to help each other. They load images and video to give us a better sense of who they are. The next step is to move the conversation to a discussion board. I post an image of the Popple, like the one here and ask for their impression of the activity.

Creating interaction with new students in a virtual space.

Creating interaction with new students in a virtual space.

In their post reflection of this activity many have commented about the ease of use  and a great way to break the ice. Some have said it gave them the confidence to try something new and be willing to make mistakes. I thought that was very reflective and a fantastic learning gain. Learning from mistakes is a great way to gain experiences and move forward.

I have many more of these activities that I do throughout my course.  It is crucial in developing virtual community and long term support.  Lesson learned here for me is online students need to engage with the instructor, with their peers and with the content. We have the tools to make all of that happen. It is a matter of doing education differently. A strong community of learners leads to a strong collaboration with amazing outcomes.

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MIA

After a week of under the weather, bronchitis, I am back in front of the computer. I have been following the posts and various artifacts, what a great group. I have collected many links and videos as well, thanks for creating this MOOC. I will be posting my thoughts for week 2 and 3 in the next few days. Just wanting to be in the know and I am still here participating.  Chat soon.

Best Practices Online

Lots of material to review on this thought. I think as more and more users are experiencing online learning, better observations and data can be collected. However after looking through the Nine steps to quality online learning by Tony Bates10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education, and  Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom, I decided to see what they had in common and how they related to the subheadings, Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. I use one of my favorite tools, Wordle and created a word cloud using the information from the articles, separated into the three categories as I saw how the strategy could best support my user.

Best practices compared

Best practices compared

As I reflect on the visual the overall connections are even more powerful than I originally thought. First there is the connection to face to face learning with my three categories, Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. They need to be intertwined, threaded throughout the learning process. One process does not occur with out the other. Online learning seems to be no different.

Looking at each category separately reveals that learning is connected to rigor. When delivering online education, one must remember how learning occurs. Building rigor into a course for all learners requires careful consideration as to why an element is included into the design of the course.  That flows nicely into the second category, Relevance.

Relevance in an online course in this word cloud speaks more to the expectations and practice. Knowing where I should end up when the course is complete is important for the learner to have some direction, to understand what is expected of them and of the instructor.

Hmm, yes that leads right to relationships. Relationships can be fostered online. Even when you have never physically met a relationship can develop. Providing feedback, getting to know ones’ peers, having two way dialogue can all contribute to creating relationships. We are experiencing this right now as we share our ideas in this MOOC.

The difficulty in creating good online content is knowing how to balance all of the “best practices” in a way that is beneficial for you the instructor and the student, and maintaining a manageable work load. You cannot just dump a face to face course on line and may of the face to face practices need to be shifted to account for the multitude of avenues to create, share and deliver information. Rigor depends on the learner, relevance depends on the instructor, and relationships can bring the learning to a completely new level.

Remix and Repurpose

I have been looking through many of the articles for teaching online. The steps, bullet points, and best practices overlap in many areas and that is a good thing. I am going to look at this ideas and see how it fits into my thoughts on Rigor, Relevance and Relationships, the three Rs, when it comes to teaching. As I travel through this MOOC I am trying to keep my focus in blended learning and the K-12 student population.

In the Beginning…

Hi everyone. Today was my lucky day. I decided it was time to get organized and stop lurking. This MOOC is a topic of great interest to me. I have been teaching online at Full Sail University for just over five years. I am always eager to look for innovative ideas and thoughts to strengthen my own toolbox of ideas. I am hoping to utilize this community to help shape and redesign some of the ideas we have about education. How education should look, what should be included, how do we know someone is educated, how is one motivated to become educated, those are just a few of the questions swirling around my head everyday.  

I have looked through most of the introductory information and thrilled to see such a variety of choices and outputs. When you are working in this virtual environment it is important to appeal to the many learning styles the participating  audience might have. Providing the structure of choice in what and how to participate is appealing to me. I key word here is participate, some way some how it is imperative that you participate in the various communities in order to make the most out of your learning experience.  WIth that being said I think I will be participating in as many threads, as possible. I have set time aside for the next several weeks so that I can be in the moment with this community. I especially like how it has a global feel to it on day 1. 

I expect to see community develop in three places, first on Twitter, then on G+ Communities and then the personal blog sites for more detailed and thought provoking writing.  I am hoping to read comments from others and see videos created by others. My fear of learning will be overcome by my willingness to learn from others. If I want to expand my toolbox I need to be who I am, ask questions, and learn from the community. Although I have set time aside to be as active as possible, I realize my job might interfere at times. Sometimes my work schedule will interfere with the webinars that are already schedule but that is when I cannot give in to work pressures I have to just continue to be in the moment with this experience. 

My best teachers had a gift to engage the learner. They were people that cared about me and the other students first. They were the ones that challenged me to think beyond the text book, they challenged me to solve community problems. Yes, my worse teachers were just the opposite. I was someone on the roster that gave them a job. They did not know me and for sure I did not want to know them. 

The three R’s are most important today – relationships, relevance, and rigor. I am a lifelong learner and due to the access I have I can learn just about anything I want to on my own time. I think this concept is important and needs to drive a revolution. Educating young people needs to be delivered differently. As I proceed through this MOOC, I will be trying to put together a structure to reach students in K-12