Tuesday, October 7, 2014

POTCert Week 5 : The Online Classroom

I tend to go through the material several times allowing myself some reflecting time in between. This helps me connect different ideas as well as examine and clarify the reasons behind my initial reaction.

The following are the main thoughts.

1- Ko and Rossen, Chapter 6: Building an Online Classroom
The chapter starts with the following statement "Now that you've done the necessary design, planning, and development work on your course and fleshed out your syllabus, it’s time to actually build your course."

If this means that teachers should literally complete the syllabus and then start searching for what is available to them, then I disagree. Starting to think about what is available within the LMS or the WWW at this stage in my opinion is too late. Especially for a teacher who has no experience with online learning tools, how would she/he possibly design or plan a voice assignment or a collaborative writing activity, for example, if they didn't know if there were tools for them? Analyzing the offerings of the online environment and the availability of different resources is an important part of the planning process, and essential for the design of the course and the activities. The authors did point out that teachers may need to go back and change the syllabus based on their findings, however in my opinion several of the recommendations they made would be more effective if started during the planning stage and not to be left until the implementation stage.

2- A Manifesto for Teaching Online
I enjoyed watching the video and agreed with most of the presented statements/ideas, but I was puzzled by the one that said "Online teaching should not be downgraded into facilitation". In the training field, trainers strive to become effective facilitators able to facilitate the learning without having to be the sage on the stage. To me a facilitator is a teacher using more a constructivist approach. I would like to know what it means to teachers.

The statement regarding Best Practice (@ 1:24)  made me think ( I have to confess I used the term before but never in a rigid sense) and I think it's a good reminder to be flexible, creative, and use practices that help my trainees learn. Best practice for one group may not be good for another group and I would want to know why and how a practice was deemed best.

3- 7 things I'd want to know as a new online teacher
point #1 is when I felt the telepathy :). I'd been looking at all my favorite online tools and to my horror, well, it was scary to discover that many of them vanished or got bought by bigger players or just became premium, while I was away from the online scene. I started thinking about material that I am creating on blogs or Google drive. It's scary to think that I may loose it all if anything happens to those companies, and I decided that I needed to make a backup of everything. I am trying not to be paranoid but what happens if my computer crashed? :) I guess backing up my own computer is a good practice any way.

point #4 When I first read it a couple of question marks popped up in my head, but reading the conversation between Lisa and Suzanne Aurilio below the post cleared them. It is still an interesting point to discuss and reflect on further.

4- The 2 videos also provided very useful tips and I particularly intend to
- manage expectations by being realistic and clear on time and frequency of being available to answer questions and discuss issues.
- creating chunks of material that can be repeated. Soft Skills trainers tend to do that and find it very useful as much of the material can fit within different courses.
- creating spaces and activities for and encouraging some informal communication between students and students and teacher. There used to be a very interesting video thread that allowed for posting, almost like a video twitter. Unfortunately I cannot remember what it was called and I think it disappeared any way as the search didn't produce anything similar. :(
- I am glad I discovered present.me that Pilar used for her video. I can use it in an activity where trainees use it to present.


  • Familiarizing ourselves with what tools are available to us is very important and it must start  as part of the planning before creating the syllabus not after. I am repeating myself but I feel very strongly about this point.
  • I am starting to be convinced that things have changed so that now having a good LMS has become an advantage, as most of them are integrating many useful tools and the teacher still has the option to include activities that take the students to the richness of the www.
  • I wish those who are working on and interested in OER (Open Education Resources) work on creating and making available free and open source tools for learning that won't disappear for commercial reasons.

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