EDDL 5141 Week 3: Activity 1 Michael
I have participated in several online courses over the past year and they have all been different. The one that worked best for me was the synchronous one (different place but same time) where we met as a group (of 20) on Day 1 for 7 hours, got to know each other and our professor, and had all of our questions answered as to how the course would be conducted. After that, we met on Wednesdays from 6 – 9pm on Blackboard Collaborate. We discussed our opinions on the readings, we viewed and discussed short videos, and we made concrete plans on how we would change what we were doing as teachers. Collaborate allowed us to break out into ‘rooms’ for small group discussions and that allowed for a greater depth of sharing. It took some time to work out the glitches with the hardware and software, but there was a technician on hand at the start of the first few classes who helped to solve most of our problems.
The other courses were asynchronous (different time, different place), but they all had assignments and blogs due at specific times so they were paced, not learn-at-your-own pace. It is difficult to get a read on the other participants in the course and it takes a while for the trust level to build and by that time the courses are over. Meeting in the flesh allows for personal exchange – hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, observing body language – and it adds that human touch. I think that that has a major impact on collaboration, on working in small groups and in the larger group. Nevertheless, one of my other courses was Statistics, where we had a text to read and a program to learn on our own, and the density of ‘fog factor’ pulled us together to find solutions as a group. The prof and the TA were always observing in the background and would participate when asked to do so.
My worst experience was the course where I handed in 7 assignments, a mid-term, and 2 final projects (one of which was a group project) and never got any feedback until after the course was over. The mid-term was marked 3 days after the final. That experience underscored the anxiety that students experience when there isn’t constant contact and timely feedback on the part of the teacher.
For the group of carpentry apprentices that I would be teaching online, I think that it would only work if we met each other as a group, up front, explained how the course would be run, helped each one with hardware and software issues, and then continued the instruction part of the course in a synchronous fashion. As individuals reach their comfort level with the technology, they can opt to participate asynchronously, at their own pace. Provisions would be made for drop-in sessions and we would meet on campus for the practical projects. Those who live in close proximity would be encouraged to meet together for the sessions and to collaborate on the assignments, over food, drink, and sports. Final testing would be done on campus.
Tags: Online Learning