Master teaches Grasshopper — at least to begin with…

I have not taught or designed an online course.  I have enrolled in many.  Some for credit.  Some for enjoyment, and some to advance my personal interests.  I can tell you when I pay my hard earned money to take a course I want something out of it.  The “thing” I want may vary from course to course.  School = credit    Interest = knowledge     Professional = Network  etc.  But in the end, there has to be an exchange that takes place for my investment.

Since I would like to design online school courses the most basic “exchange” is credit.  Anything that goes beyond credit is a bonus: knowledge, interest, network, enjoyment.  In an academic online course, give me an expert in the subject and lay out the material in an easy to follow progression.  Lay out the assignment requirements, and number them so I can see how much I’ve done and what else I need to do.  If at the end of the course, I’ve accomplished all assignments give me my credit and I’ll sign up for another course.

Blackall said it best in his 2007 blog post: “Naturally a student who has enrolled in a formal course, following traditional administration channels, paying fees etc and who is of an age and professional experience that is very used to the idea of taught and instructed learning, would expect a similarly efficient, industrial strength, structured learning pathway within the course” (Blackall)

Master teaches Grasshopper.

And yet there is a learning space where knowledge is decentralized and the lines of teacher/student  expert/novice are blurred.

Further down in the same blog post, Blackall evokes David Wiley’s online education course:

“David then demonstrates facilitation practices once the participants are under way with this. He summarises their work, comments and links people’s posts to each other. It helps that he has some farely well known edu bloggers participating in his course and so the topics and discussions go further and wider than the course participants themselves” (Blackall)

Master no longer teaches Grasshopper.

Many Mega Companies are using the community learning model to save their organizations from having an official help line.  Go to any Apple or Microsoft help site and it’s a bunch of unpaid “experts” giving their advice on how to fix problems posted by questioners.   Some of the solutions work and others don’t, but in the end I can usually fix whatever problem I have.

Would I pay for this service?  No.  I use it because it’s quick (and I don’t have to wait on hold) and it works and I have a basic knowledge of what needs fixing.

So basically if I’m paying for a service I want to stand on the shoulder of the expert, I don’t want to be fumbling on the ground with the novices.  I have FaceBook for that.

Which brings me to the questions at hand:

What do you find is the single most significant difference (that actually impacts learning in either a positive or negative way) between teaching and learning online as compared to in a face-to-face environment ?

Links and Google:  Any questions that enter my mind during study I have direct access to the best answer machine: Google.  How many times I stop while reading and check up a word, a teaching philosophy, an author, and get lost in a web of links.

What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous communication in online learning? Is one type more important than the other? As an online educator what approach or tools might you use to combine these two communication formats?

I still think the most important tool is independent study: so asynchronous tools which allow me to study on my terms.  Let’s celebrate all the benefits of DL and not bring the familiarity of the F2F classroom into online learning.

As a teacher of online courses, how do you (or would you, if you do not as yet have online teaching experience) encourage interactions between yourself and your students, as well as between students, and network building with participants outside of the “formal” course?

Taking online courses, this is the biggest challenge I’ve faced.  I’m not big on contrived interactions.  It’s the equivalent of “talk to your desk partner for one minute about the importance of Municipal Government.”

Most students fumble through a response they don’t really care about then talk about the Blue Jay’s 12th inning home run for the rest of the 50 seconds.

But then a class discussion (even if only 5 students are passionate about it) seems more genuine.

As a teacher/facilitator I’m not sure I would use wiki’s for shared discourse and I don’t think I would assign them to respond to “at least 2 other posts.”

Hopefully there would be a troll in the group that would post interesting comments that would fire up the class to respond instinctively.

And maybe that troll would be me.







  • #   mfarooq on 01.30.17 at 7:44 am     Reply

    Hi Delano, I really liked your pragmatic approach that when you pay your hard-earned money then you want something out of it. It resonated with my motivation idea. If people’s stakes are high in the course then they will get it done better. I am an international students so I pay lot more than what you pay and thus I feel I need to put more effort to get max out of this.

    Other things that we learned about motivation in the reading list can also make a big difference but I think at our age, motivation is mostly intrinsic.

  • #   Jo on 02.02.17 at 8:00 pm     Reply

    Hi Delano,
    Haha, I totally do not participate in the think pair share for 1 minute on municipal government type of tasks at ProD events. Every time group work comes up, my colleagues all look to me and wait for my groan before they laugh. I am one of those independent intrapersonal learners … give me information and then give me think time. Then, tell me what you want to do. All the social learning stuff is really annoying to me personally and has been since I was 10 years old. As a teacher, I know some people benefit from the social interaction, but I am always mindful of the students that may not enjoy this kind of activity.
    I am also seeing a really growing distinction between teaching and the k-12 levels versus the post secondary level DL.
    I welcome your Trollness, but please do not bring up the Blue Jays or the Canucks (albeit the Jays are more acceptable than the latter). 🙂

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