It was quite an experience, if not challenging, taking this course. I narrowly missed out on the digital age of education so this is the first online, self-paced course I’ve had to take. Chalk it up to unfamiliarity or just clash of learning style, I found it much more difficult than a classroom setting where I could take notes, absorb knowledge, and complement the information with textbook studying sessions. Having said that, I am very glad I took the course as it gives some perspective of what my students are going through.
I think the most important thing I learned from this course is the importance of establishing a sense of community and trust. Gaining trust I have had a lot of experience with, and I think it comes from diligently answering emails and offering as much help as the students want/need. Establishing a sense of community on the other hand I found quite difficult. Quite a few students flat out do not respond to emails or blackboard messages. The few that were seeking study partners received no responses, even after I had reached out across different sections of the same course. This may be somewhat expected given the continuous nature of the course, as all students are on their own pace. Nevertheless, in the future I will be more aggressive pushing for communication from the community.
I would also like to request more feedback from students, given this is my first experience with online courses. So far all feedback have been quite positive, although this is only from the portion who chose to give it. It would be nice to include a mandatory survey for the students to fill out on their instructor once they complete their course. I imagine this would lead to improvements to our teaching style in the future.
WordPress is a nice tool for communication within the community. I can sympathize with my students though, in that if participation is not mandatory it is quite easy to forget to comment on others’ posts given everyone’s busy schedule. I make a point of reading everyone’s posts but it’s not always that I can immediately think of any meaningful feedback. Perhaps once I get used to the self-paced, online nature of digital learning, it will become easier.
The learning strategy most effective for me is still reading and taking notes. I believe the process of writing helps me remember the ideas that are being transferred, moreso than simply watching a video or listening to an audio file. However, I also know that everyone’s got their own learning style, and therefore it is important to figure out individually how students learn best. This can be as easy as asking them this exact question, so we can make slight adjustments to our teaching methods when giving one-on-one help.
Again I’m grateful to have taken this course. Big thanks to Colin and Biggi for facilitating!