…as I design and teach “Intro to Online Teaching”

Ask yourself, “Will it help you achieve your learning objective “better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper?”

I have had the opportunity to with thousands of online faculty and to observe hundreds of thousands of online students in the SUNY Learning Network (SLN). From that vantage point I can sense/feel the increased interest in and usage of audio and video-enhanced online instruction/communications/interaction. And at work I feel it too. Skype and elluminate meetings, workgroups, and collaborations are a regular thing now. I see a definite trend away from purely text-based interaction in the world of online teaching and learning from both faculty and students. And though that certainly does not mean that text-based communications will disappear, there is something about audio and video communications in instruction that significantly enhances the experience for faculty and students in terms of creating more engaging content presentation, and enhancing interaction, collaboration, and feedback. (My friend Phil Ice has done some research on this. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.137.2582&rep=rep1&type=pdf). In my efforts to explore what it really means to be learner-centered as an online educator in my own online instruction, I have come to the conclusion to really do that, I have to let go and let students be engaged and express that in ways that are meaningful to them and their lives. This is not as easy …or comfortable as it sounds. I would probably be characterized as one of the most learner-centered online instructor by friends and colleagues …and yet I struggle – so I know how hard it is.

I also feel that an LMS that locks down and controls access and ownership of student content is problematic and contributes to my frustration and struggle. I mean if we are asking them to generate content, then why does their access to their content go away at the end of the term? How can you call a tool a blog if they don’t own it, can’t personalize it, it is NOT public AND it (and their content) gets taken away at the end of the term – and so on… This tension I feel between the LMS and student-created content is one of the main reasons I teach mostly “outside the box” and have been presenting everywhere I can about teaching and learning in the cloud: http://prezi.com/yyzcr9_btox6/teaching-learning-in-the-cloud/

I always tell the faculty I work with NOT to get attached to “tools” as they change, get bought and killed, or just disappear… I tell them to be fearless and that there are tons of tools, so that if one goes away there are others to take its place http://www.appappeal.com/web-2-0-application-world-mosaic/ I tell them that you need to start with a learning objective, NOT the tool, and you just need criteria to evaluate tools – Does it help you achieve your learning objective “better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper?”

Posted by on April 13, 2011 at 10:29 am and tagged , , ,  | Comments & Trackbacks (4)




4 Responses to “Ask yourself, “Will it help you achieve your learning objective “better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper?””

  1.   moniquegareau Says:

    “I mean if we are asking them to generate content, then why does their access to their content go away at the end of the term? How can you call a tool a blog if they don’t own it, can’t personalize it, it is NOT public AND it (and their content) gets taken away at the end of the term – and so on…”

    I have witnessed this issue in several classrooms and educational settings. It seems that the best way to engage students into generating content is to provide them with an authentic, purposeful opportunity to do so – they are writing/presenting for a reason and for a specific audience. To know that they are doing it just for the sake of course work and to know that it is only temporary can be very frustrating.

  2.   candicedelgado Says:

    The title of your blog post is something that many of the newer teachers at my school reiterate to our colleagues. Many of them get hung up on a tool with technology and then when it disappears after a year or two for some reason they tend to lessen their use with technology. I agree with you that we need to start with what we need to teach and then ask how can we make this more hands on, or even better. I find that many times my students are so accustomed to technology tools changing, deleting, or breaking that I give them a choice of what tool works best for them and then they roll with what they’d like.

    It can be frustrating getting excited about the use of technology when many times the control piece or funding of it is out of the instructor’s hands.

  3.   alexandrapickett Says:

    Hi There!

    Thanks for your comments. I have moved this blog to http://etap640.edublogs.org I would love to see you and your comments there. Thanks for your interest and insights on this post. It is so important to remember that technology is just a tool in the service of pedagogy and should not wag the dog.

Leave a Reply