Monday, February 12, 2007
B4B Week Four Summary
The highlight of this week at B4B was listening to Bee and Aaron's presentation at Alado. Although they shared many helpful tips and interesting anecdotes about blogging with their students, two of their key concepts, openness and interaction, made a real impression with me. By thinking about two different online learning experiences I had, I hope I can draw on these to create the type of learning environment they discussed.
One of my first experiences with online teaching and learning was in the Fall 2005 semester and I registered for a faculty development course on Teaching Online at the community college where I was teaching English Composition. In order to be able to teach online courses, teachers had to complete this professional development course which consisted of reading a textbook, participating in the course through Blackboard, and creating some elements of an online course in our discipline. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and thought it was so interesting to meet faculty members from other departments, such as foreign languages, fire science, and nursing. Even though we worked on the same campus, we would have never had such an opportunity to meet if it weren't for this course and Blackboard.
Shortly after completing this course, I decided that I wanted to continue learning online, so I enrolled in TESOL's EVO session, Becoming a Webhead 2006. Let's just say that the difference between these two systems was a big one! In BaW, I could interact with participants from around the world and through multiple the use of online tools, including Yahoo! Groups, a blog, a PB Wiki, discussion forums, voice e-mails, and the list seems to go on and on. Whenever I logged on to the course, I never knew where I would end up or what kind of connections I would make. New tools, tips, and projects were springing up all around me and it was overwhelming and hard to keep up, but really interesting!
By thinking about these two experiences with online learning, I can see the key concepts of openness and interaction. Although I did enjoy the faculty development course on Blackboard, I wonder how the experience would have been different if we had a more open environment, where we could interact with other educators. Maybe we could have found out the ins-and-outs of teaching online from a more diverse group of students, educators, and others if portions of the course would have been conducted in a more open environment. Maybe knowledge would have been more co-constructed among the participants, rather than just received from the textbook and facilitator. As the roles of teachers, students, and technology change, so must our teaching approaches.
I have a goal to use technology in my classes in the upcoming academic year. I'll try to remember the key concepts that Bee and Aaron spoke about, especially openness and interaction!
(Image from Bee's PowerPoint presentation to BaW 07)