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Learning to Teach online

April 9th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

Graham Attwell just posted this video and I thought it was interesting to share it [ … also for my own sake, as note taking kind of a  thing] because it stresses some very important points regarding the facilitation of learning.



If we believe that learning is anchored in engagement, then we really need to design for engagement. I think this is where creating learning contexts becomes key. I think that the role of the teacher is to create challenges that encourage learners to take responsibility for their learning because that activity becomes enjoyable, appeals to them, they can identify themselves with. Hence, it becomes fun. It is not a hahaha fun, but rather a I am hooked to it kind of fun!

The video also resonates to some of the discussions Professor Gráinne Conole has started around presence and deeper sense of connection online environments are able to convey. This obviously only makes sense to those who really immerse themselves in these online environments and use social tools as a common means of communication. I don’t know why this is so, but I suspect that writing as a medium can me more powerful, and maybe even more expressive, than speaking face to face. I don’t know about you, but I am always more eloquent in my mind (when I prepare a speech, organise my thoughts…)  than I am when I deliver my ideas to an audience. [ … sometimes I even manage to go accent free … in my dreams!! :D ].

I think the medium is important. As I write this, I am sharing my inner thoughts with you…maybe a facet of me I am (consciously or unconsciously) less prone to share in a face to face situation with a larger group of people. Yet, developing this confidence online also translates into a more confident self face to face. So one feeds into the other…

We can also argue that online communication lacks the meanings body language may convey. Nonetheless, I think we have developed a sophisticated system of graphical signs, like smiley, that convey mood, sense of humor, personality… all of that helps with communicating and sharing traits of our personality online. [I am sure there are studies on this… I must do a search on this topic. Fascinating!]

In short, we need to try these environments for ourselves. We need to set the tone of participation…sometimes via assessment too. And we need to design for context so learners can give more of them and take ownership of their learning opportunities. In my own  experience, this is not always easy. At the beginning this is not usually learners’ cup of tea (!), but the more they get involved in it, the more they perceive the value of being main actors of their learning experience. Eventually. they like it! ;-) It’s all about trying it. As educators we need to try it too so we can fully grasp what it means to be (work, shop, socialise, etc)  online.

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