Getting out of my head
This module has been an unveiling of what I thought this course would originally be, to the endless possibilities of what it can be. I have had preconceived notions about teaching, based on the mass experience that I have with teachers, and education. I find myself defaulting to settings of writing a lesson plan, to deliver content, but not myself. I posted this segment of The Big Bang Theory, because I thought that Amy (Mayim Bialik), was right on in what she said about teachers. Teachers have the responsibility to entertain and engage. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) needs to get out of his own head, set his ego aside and look at what will engage his students. “Education is a performance art,” and online education is no exception. We need to perform through written words, visual effects, exploration of technology, and reaching out and being present for our students. Opening the door to these concepts has flooded me with excitement and enthusiasm to explore a multitude of paths that lead to connecting schools and families around students with autism.
What the readings taught me
At the start of this module I had realized that I did not complete my course outline, so in a panic state I whipped one up and submitted it. While I rushed, I felt that I hit the elements asked for in the assignment description and I was satisfied with the start of my work. I proceeded to the next modules reading, where I read A Series of Unfortunate Online Events. As I proceeded to read the article my face began to flush. By the end of the article my face was on fire with embarrassment and shame. How could I have hit almost every “avoid” recommendation? Am I that bad of a teacher? Some examples of blunders are: I thought that online discussion equaled participation, I did not acknowledge the importance of community, I thought what I did in the classroom would translate online…I could go on, but I won’t. Using this article helped me comb through my original outline and begin to deconstruct the course so I could put it back together in a way that showcases a better picture of who I am, and what my goals are for the learner. This is such an important topic to me (connecting schools and families) and you would have never known that from the original outline. An example of this, was in my module headings. Professor Pickett was screaming through her posts, “who are you, I don’t hear your voice.” She was right. Not only was she pointing out an observation of my outline, but she modeled how voice and presence can be delivered in an online course. Rodgers & Raider-Roth, 2006 define presence as “We define this engagement as ‘presence’—a state of alert awareness, receptivity and connectedness to the mental, emotional and physical workings of both the individual and the group in the context of their learning environments and the ability to respond with a considered and compassionate best next step (Rodgers & Raider-Roth, 2006, pg. 266).” I put my voice in my titles, that reflected more of my personality. Instead of a section titled Emotional Regulation, I titled the module It’s getting hot in here (yes it is a song reference that jumps in my head when a student has a meltdown).
This leads to the second article, Do online students dream of electric teachers? The fear is that online teaching will become more of a money making opportunity for universities, and less of a tailor made educational experience for learners. We know that to be a successful online student we need to be self-regulated learners. That does not mean that professors should neglect the needs of their students. Online presence and the ability to connect professor to student and student to student creates a successful online experience (Pickett, 2008). Scorza write, “Whenever possible I like to adopt a conversational tone in online course materials, even making use of humor, where appropriate (Scorza, 2004, pg. 48).” This activated my connection with professor Pickett and her use of smiley faces at the end of her posts :). I feel connected when I see that face and can sense professors presence.
Where does the journey continue?
Conversations and connections with classmates have really highlighted this module. Maree Michaud-Sacks and Ryan Mulligan have brought in Gagne’s works and tied it into our current online design. (Gagne, Wagner, Golas, & Keller, 2005), Principles of Instructional Design is a book that I was able to go back to and reference. I was lucky to take a class Systematic Design of Instruction (ETAP 623) with Jianwei Zhang. Professor Zhang’s class is a great course to take before this course. Many of the principles learned in this ETAP 623 are so important in developing our courses. Through the observation of discussions, and participation of discussions I was able to come to a better understanding of who I am and what I want my presence to be on line. Mary Huffman responded to my post on assessments, by grabbing shovel and digging to a new layer in my understanding of how and why I want to assess my students. She left me with a question of “What else can help your students understand if your material?” What is great about this question is it is student focused. It is not how will the instructor know if the students learned, but how will the students know. This shifts my perspective and has inspired my own digging of how I will accomplish this and what tools I will need.
Packed and ready to continue
This module has added many tools to my bag, and I feel ready to encounter the next challenge. The structure of this course, the interaction with peers and professor, have all contributed to my collection of tools I will need to continue this journey. I am excited to see how deep I can go, and oh the places I’ll go!
- Pickett, A. (2008). A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them. Retrieved from A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them.
- Scorza, J. A. (2005). Do online students dream of electric teachers? Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 9(2), 45-52.
- Rodgers, C. R., & Raider‐Roth, M. B. (2006). Presence in teaching. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 12(3), 265-287.