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Post-secondary Education

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education = meta-learning + change

 

I’ve been looking at the 2015 NMC Horizon Report: Higher Education Edition, which charts the biggest near- and longer-term trends across the post-secondary landscape. One of the key directions is advancing highly flexible and innovative learning environments..

With change comes challenge. According to the NMC Report, post-secondary institutions will struggle with how to create these flexible, customizable and personalized learning environments (as students increasingly want and demand). Related challenges include: teaching complex thinking in the context of digital information proliferation, and addressing/resolving competing models of what higher education should/does look like.

The mainstreaming of radically student-centred learning represents a massive disruption to the traditional “broadcast” model of education (one instructor + many students). Just as one-to-many “Web 1.0” gave way to many-to-many social sharing, collaboration and self-curated content consumption (“Web 2.0”), will higher ed institutions see a similarly tectonic shift?

And yet…moving toward student-centred and customizable learning may bring us closer to education in its truest sense. Carl Rogers, the influential humanistic psychotherapist, education theorist and founder of client-centred therapy, stated:

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”

Learning how to learn – the capacity to curate and critically reflect on new information and knowledge – is especially crucial at a time when ‘data never sleep’ (check out this infographic showing what happens during one minute on the Internet).

And, at its heart, all learning is really about change.

In other words: education = meta-learning + change.

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Order’s up!

 

Educators agree that it’s good practice to foster scaffolded learning. We want individuals and groups to incrementally build on progressively more complex and sophisticated knowledge and skills. And we typically ‘serve it up’ over a multi-week course, comprised of two or three hour classes. For several years. Higher education is the equivalent of fine gourmet dining.

At the same time, a gushing torrent of digital information makes accessing ‘just in time’ learning seem attainable in short bursts of focused content. Interest, relevance and engagement are measured by clicks and eyeballs. If higher ed is a fancy restaurant, then YouTube is fast food.

The two seem diametrically opposed, but I’m thinking that YouTube has some good lessons for teaching and learning in higher education, such as:

  • Viral is good (we want learning to replicate and spread)
  • Every minute is precious – make each one count
  • Keep things moving
  • If it’s complicated, break it down
  • Surround the learning experience with lots of opportunities (banner ads!) for further, self-directed exploration
  • And…make it totally accessible to anyone and everyone.

This last is a challenge when higher education is very much a business (see Richard Wellan’s book review: Grappling with Academic Capitalism in Canadian Universities, reflecting “the logic of commercialization and corporate models on the behavior of essentially public institutions”). Similarly, a fabulous and expensive dinner out is a luxury few can afford.

It occurs to me that lots of fancy restaurants are putting artisanal versions of  ‘fast food’ basics on their menus. I wonder what my courses would look like if I were to break them apart and YouTube-ify them? (I’m not talking about MOOCs – I’m talking “wiki-MOOCs”).

Food for thought.

 

 

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Six ways to make your online course even more awesome

 

I love classroom teaching. It’s hard to beat the opportunity to connect with a group of learners face-to-face. But just as there are many ways and experiences of classroom teaching, online teaching is every bit as variable and demands some unique strategies to create engaging and transformative learning environments. Plus, anyone who has ever designed and taught an online course can attest to how time-intensive online teaching can be. How can we structure a positive and engaging course climate while also finding ways to make more efficient use of our time as faculty?

A few months ago I came across a delightful little book by artist Austin Kleon, titled Show your Work. Kleon’s basic premise is that our internal creative process can be even more helpful and engaging than the polished, finished product of our work. In that spirit, here are my top six ‘trade secrets’ of online teaching, gleaned from 12+ years as faculty for a Masters-level online social work course.

 

 

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The most important things that students want to know are: what the expectations are, how to access the course, where to get help if they need it, and how they can succeed. I make a point of addressing these questions by mobilizing multiple communication channels: A detailed “Welcome” email to all registered students sent out approximately one month before the course start date; “Welcome” announcement (the first thing they’ll see when they access the course for the first time); “Welcome” post in the small group discussion forums; “Welcome” video uploaded to the course materials repository; and an outline of “Frequently Asked Questions” in the Course Syllabus itself. People access and attend to information selectively – this way I make sure that the important information cuts through the “static” of students’ other, competing priorities, and I also get fewer panicked emails and phone calls in the first weeks of the course.

 

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Institutional Learning Management Systems tend not to be the most intuitive or visually appealing. I create folders for each week’s content, populated with the same kinds of materials in the exact same sequence:

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This offers a sense of continuity to the online classroom – analogous to holding a face-to-face course in the same room every week.

 

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We live in an online culture of continuous and immersive sharing and collaboration. The trouble is, as course faculty, I’m not able to be accessible 24/7. It’s important to be explicit about how often I check in to the course (typically 6 days per week in the first two weeks of the course, and 3-4 days per week thereafter). I also let students know that I don’t always respond to emails on week ends. I do make a point of responding to emails/phone calls the same day or within 24 hours.

Even better, I ask students to share their questions in the small group discussion forums in a new thread titled “Question for Marilyn”. This accomplishes three things: (a) Other students can benefit from seeing the question and my response; (b) This cuts down on my having to respond over and over to the same question from different individuals; (c) If I only have a few minutes to dip into the course, I can quickly see questions and get to them as a first priority.

 

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Incorporating a short video of myself at the beginning of each “class” (weekly module) helps to establish instructional immediacy, a key component of effective online teaching and learning. We’re not talking high production values, but just helping students to put a face and personality to my name helps foster a sense of connectedness and engagement.

It’s also good to mix things up and harness the rich array of web based applications and resources that are out there: videos, websites, blogs, news aggregators, and more. I also encourage students to find and share their online discoveries.

 

1 Online Teaching Trade Secrets PUB

This took me a shockingly long time to figure out. I am embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until 2012 that I began to personally archive all of my postings in the group discussion forums, and I now use these as a base from which to continuously adapt and reframe year over year. Although I refresh and update the course content every year, many of the same issues, discussion points, questions and reflections come up. Having a resource archive to draw from has immeasurably enriched my own contributions to our online conversations.

 

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This is no big secret, but paying close attention to the affective dimension is key to learning and teaching. The majority of online courses at this time are still largely text-based, so I pay special attention to the nuances and emotional tone in all of my communications with students, whether via email or in the course discussion board. I also encourage students to reach out to me by phone or video chat in real time when they get stuck or more complex issues arise.

 

Check out the complete slide deck here.

 

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What does it take to be a wizard inside and outside the classroom?

 

1. Respond to student queries ASAP

For good or ill, people increasingly expect (and value) prompt replies to their questions or concerns, especially via email. And students seem to equate an instructor’s response time with instructor engagement and caring. A speedy reply is not always possible, and email communication can be delicate at times, but I try to live by the “24 hour or less” rule and interestingly, students make particular note of how helpful this responsiveness is to them in comments on the course evaluations.

 

2. Overcommunicate

Students’ lives, like ours, are complicated, busy, and sometimes chaotic. People don’t always attend to our verbal communications or instructions, and/or email, and/or written (print) communication, and/or online announcements. Similarly, the more channels that we can mobilize to share information with our students about upcoming assignments, due dates, key information or course resources, the greater the chance that our message will filter through the “white noise” of multiple, competing pressures and priorities.

 

3. Listen carefully

When students express an issue or concern, chances are –  especially if we’ve been teaching for many years – we’ve heard it (or something very much like it) before. And we’ve also responded many times before. It’s sometimes easy to forget that for this student with this issue it might be the very first time, and every person and every situation is unique. Take the time to listen carefully with a goal of understanding.

 

4. Provide the back-story

I’ve found that when students feel like an assignment, an academic decision, a policy, or a course expectation is unfair or unwelcome, it’s usually because they’re not satisfied that there is a good rationale behind it. The trick is, how to communicate this without coming across as defensive, or worse, officious? I’ve found that the elicit-provide-elicit framework in Motivational Interviewing has been helpful in providing information to students: (a) elicit the student’s understanding of why they think I am proceeding in a certain way; (b) provide a brief explanation from my perspective; (c) elicit the student’s response (“What do you make of that? How does this fit for you?”).

 

5. Get excited

Everything in the world is inherently interesting. And everything in the world can be made incredibly boring. If I’m passionate about what I’m teaching, chances are some of that will rub off.

 

6. Don’t work harder than your students

Learning is active. It takes effort, involvement and application. If I’m at the front of the room lecturing and the group is passively listening, who’s working harder? It’s a challenge to create dynamic learning activities that engage students in co-constructing meaning, wrestling with new ideas, and trying out new skills. Admittedly, high quality curriculum design generally takes more work at the front end – so perhaps it’s more accurate to say “Don’t work harder than your students in the classroom”.

 

And yes, highly effective teachers have more than these six habits – but they’re a pretty good place to start.

 

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We all go to school. Every day.

 

Tuition costs are highly variable, and sometimes paid a long time after.

Our teachers are many.

We’re teachers too.

 

Where is your classroom today?

 

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No one likes to feel incompetent, but how else can we learn?

Last week I had a conversation with a student (not one of mine) who approached me because she was struggling with an essay she had to write. The obvious question is “Why not go to your instructor to talk about this?” In response, she described how the author’s key points in the literary theory text that she was referencing were hard to grasp, and raised more questions than they answered. The material was so challenging that she was having trouble even framing clear questions. Because she prided herself on being a bright and engaged student, she felt like her inability to wrap her mind around this complex and highly abstract material would colour her instructor’s regard for her abilities. In other words, she valued his positive approval and she didn’t want him to conclude that maybe she wasn’t that smart after all.

Are you thinking “high achiever”?!

In the midst of our discussion two things became apparent:

1. Whether as instructors, managers or supervisors, we invariably tell students/staff/clinicians to come to us when they’re in difficulty. I’m certain that the instructor in this case told his students on numerous occasions that he’d be glad to connect with them outside of class.

2. What we don’t always do is lay the groundwork to make it possible for others to come to us with their questions, concerns or issues. This example made me wonder…what more could the instructor have added to create a climate in which students felt 100% safe to risk looking foolish, clueless, unthinking (and all of the other labels we often apply to ourselves when we’re in the weeds). And what more could I be doing in this area?

It’s a human trait to want others to think well of us. Yet paradoxically, it’s hard to advance our knowledge and skills without venturing into the realm of not-knowing. Our willingness to shine a light on our weaknesses or knowledge/skill gaps might just be the biggest determinant of success!

The next time I hear myself say, “Please feel free to come to me with any questions that you have”, I’m going to add something along the lines of:

“It can be hard to shine a light on things you’re not so good at, but how else do you get good at them? If you’re feeling less-than-competent that’s fantastic – it means you’re learning! What can I do to make you feel totally at ease approaching me?”

Of course, creating a climate of mutual trust takes more than a couple of sentences – it’s a way of being, communicating unconditional positive regard and respect. But making a point to explicitly affirm the value of positive risk-taking might help tip the balance when others are struggling.

Now back to the student – as she talked more about her ideas and interpretations of what she had been reading, she was able to answer most of her own questions. And then I shared my own learning (see above) with her.

Another good lesson: we all possess a powerful innate wisdom. And we all benefit when a caring other takes the time to evoke it.

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What do I want to be when I grow up? For a large proportion of high school students, now is when that question gets real.

 

 

Which program? Which college or university? What are the admission requirements and will my grades be good enough? Applying to undergraduate and graduate degree or diploma programs can be stressful, especially the dreaded “Personal Statement” in which applicants must respond to a series of questions in 3000 characters or less.

For example:

What makes a good citizen?

How will you make the best of your experience at this institution?

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

 

These are big questions, and it can be daunting to frame a concise, compelling and well-written response. Yet the Personal Statement is a golden opportunity to differentiate oneself from the rest of the pack. Here are some ‘best practice’ tips to get you started.

  1. If the inspiration just isn’t coming, start typing anyhow. Don’t judge or polish – just write from your heart and see what comes out. You will yield some nuggets of gold to work with, and better yet, you will have made a start! (sometimes the hardest part is starting)
  2. Draft your responses in a text file instead of typing directly into the online form. What if you were to accidentally press “submit” before you’re done? Better to write, edit, spell-check, word count and then copy/paste online when you’re ready.
  3. Ask someone else to look over your responses and offer suggestions/feedback. Just make sure that your own authentic voice shines through. And, this probably goes without saying, but under no circumstances ‘borrow’ (i.e. plagiarize) content from online or other sources.
  4. Check online for the institution’s Mission Statement, and take this into account in framing and tailoring your responses.
  5. Give at least one concrete example from your own experience that illustrates your response to each question. You can draw from past participation in school clubs or sports, hobbies or interests, volunteer work, employment, travel, or books/art/music/poetry that has inspired you. If you have a website, blog or YouTube channel with original content, that might also be worth highlighting. Don’t underestimate or discount the many things that make you special!
  6. Last but not least, stay positive. We don’t always succeed in life the first time we try (or the second, or the third…). I’m inspired by this list of 50 famous people who failed at their first attempts at career success.

Related

The 3 steps to success in school (and life)

Student tips: How to get good grades

Why convocation is #awesome

Stay gold

 

 

 

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A conceptual framework for SoTL offers a map to knowing, valuing and acting

 

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), is, by definition, public versus private, susceptible to peer review and critique, and can be built upon by others (Charbonneau, 2010). But what does SoTL look like? What’s the “roadmap”? A conceptual framework can illuminate and guide how we frame and understand academic scholarship in the context of 21st Century post-secondary teaching and learning.

I’ve been thinking about an integrated framework that incorporates SoTL knowledge, learning and growth, as well as ways of knowing, valuing and acting as academic teachers, learners and scholars. Two recent models seem complementary and enrich one-another when viewed in combination: Randall et al. (2013) focusing on overlapping and dynamic elements of teaching and learning scholarship, and Kereliuk et al. (2013) with a slightly broader conceptualization of 21st Century teacher knowledge.

 

Framework for the Scholarship of (21st Century) Teaching and Learning

SoTL Framework

 

Randall’s original framework represents three overlapping and dynamic elements of teaching and learning scholarship: (1) knowledge of scholarly teaching; (2) learning about one’s teaching; and (3) growth in SoTL. The three domains are represented in a Venn diagram, with points where the domains intersect/overlap. For example, where (1) knowledge of scholarly teaching meets (2) learning about one’s teaching, we see enhanced faculty engagement and motivation. Where (2) learning about one’s teaching meets (3) growth in SoTL we see increased commitment and professional academic/scholarly identity. Where (3) growth in SoTL meets (1) knowledge of scholarly teaching we see concrete SoTL performance and/or action. Finally, the central convergence point of all three domains represents SoTL transformation.

In the integrated model, foundation knowledge (such as teaching skills and digital, research and cross-disciplinary literacies) maps onto the domain of scholarly teaching broadly. Humanistic knowledge (which includes ethical/emotional awareness and diversity competence) corresponds to and enriches the domain of learning about one’s teaching. Finally, meta knowledge (such as creativity and innovation, problem solving and critical reflection, and communication and collaboration across disciplines) relates to faculty growth in SoTL.

I like how, when integrated, this framework affirms multiple and diverse ways of knowing and being.

With all that said, no roadmap is perfect – any GPS user who has been misdirected by the computer navigation guide will attest to that. We are continuously mapping and remapping physical and geographic terrains, and the same holds true for conceptual mapping of the terrains of knowledge, development and application.

A work in progress, like life itself, and our individual and collective learning journeys.

 

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A simple shift in perspective can transform dialogue and engagement

 

Today I got to shake hands with over 300 students. No, it wasn’t convocation – it was kind of the opposite of convocation. It was…the annual College Information Fair.

That’s when hundreds of (mostly) high school students pour into a massive convention centre by the busload, and let loose on aisles of kiosks and pavilions, each promoting specific academic institutions and programs. Some students were 100% clear about their post-secondary journeys, some expressed uncertainty about which school to attend. Others candidly acknowledged that they didn’t have a glimmer of an idea about where they wanted to head after high school. Some were leaning toward a program that wasn’t going to get them to their ultimate career destination, and many were just there to hang out with friends and pick up some free swag.

Last year I approached my role with the primary objective of offering information about the academic programs that I administer. This year, I decided to try a slightly different approach, more in line with motivational interviewing, where the goal is to evoke versus educate. In other words, instead of asking potential students “How can I help you?” / “What would you like to know?”, I opened the conversation with a couple of questions designed to briefly elicit each person’s “big picture” goals before honing in on the specifics of a particular program of study.

Instead of… I asked…
How can I help you? What programs are you interested in?
What would you like to know about Program X? What made you decide that you’re interested in Program X?
What other questions can I help with? Where do you see yourself in terms of your ultimate goal or career?
Here’s some additional information… Can I share how Program X (and/or Y and/or Z) might fit with your goals?

The results were amazing. Because many teenagers aren’t the most voluble conversationalists, our interactions were brief but much more meaningful than the conversations that I held last year. Students were engaged, they felt heard and affirmed, and for many who were unsure about their future, a couple of follow-up questions (“What kinds of courses in high school captured your interest most?” “If you could have any job, what would it be?”) helped them to clarify some possible directions. I also heard some amazing stories and made deeper connections.

And from a purely selfish perspective, at the end of the day I too felt energized. I felt like I contributed more than what’s written in the academic calendar!

 

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Learning is up to the learner, but teaching is up to the teacher

 

It’s one thing to teach, and quite another to learn. Learning is up to the learner, not the teacher. Just like the old saying: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

But…here’s the thing: You can make him thirsty!

So the question is, how do we create environments that make learners “thirsty”? In other words, how can we foster learner engagement? Herewith, my personal Top 10. Some are prosaic and some can be incredibly challenging. And that’s a good thing, because we are all learners and we’re all teachers.

1. Start as you mean to go on: Begin every workshop, class, course, etc. with a question. Establishing right at the outset that our learning journey will be collective and collaborative is key, and especially early on I make a point of explicitly praising and otherwise rewarding any and all signs of positive engagement on the part of individuals/groups.

2. Incentivize participation: We want learners to take risks and make mistakes. When a person volunteers for something high risk, reinforce the desired behaviour. I don’t advertise it ahead of time, but whoever comes to the front of the room to do a role play with me is going to go back to his or her seat with some small token. It doesn’t even really matter what it is (think $ store).

3. Provide normative feedback: Using in-class mobile polling or an audience response system (like iClickers) lets learners compare their own knowledge/opinions/beliefs/assumptions with others in the room.

4. Establish relevance: Learners what to know “what’s in it for me?” Creating learning activities that help people bridge curricula to their own lives = good. Co-constructing learning activities that address/solve real-world problems = better.

5. Show your sense of humour: It’s hard to be serious all the time. Make it fun and mix it up! Shared laughter builds group cohesion.

6. Affirm autonomy: Let’s face it. Some days we are more fired up than others about our life’s work, and it’s no different for our students. When individuals or groups just don’t seem to be getting on board, I find that stating out loud (with 100% sincerity and with 0% judgement) that how/when/if folks engage is entirely their choice seems to free up some good energy for engagement.

7. Deploy multiple “engagement channels”: Individuals come to learning environments with a range of different learning preferences and a range of preferred ways of participating and engaging. Some people like the limelight, others need time to process and formulate a thoughtful response, and many are more comfortable sharing in a smaller group. The more choices we can offer about how to participate the better, including: verbal/written, large group/small group, synchronous/asynchronous, classroom-based/online, and more.

8. Evoke affect:  Research about emotion (affect), memory, and implications for learning suggest that teaching needs to go beyond engaging at a purely intellectual (cognitive) level, and touch peoples’ feelings (for example, Sylwester, 1994; and more recent perspectives that encompass academic technology and affective/cognitive learning, Calvo & D’Mello, 2011). Create learning activities that pair new knowledge and skills acquisition with positive affect, like surprise, delight, excitement, curiosity for deeper and more durable learning.

9. Show them you care: Authentic care and concern can go far in building good will and fostering mutual respect and support for one another’s learning and achievement.

10. And last but not least – know when to break the rules (and go ahead and break them). Like the time I called it a day and took the group shopping. 

 

 

Related articles

Five Reasons why Reality TV is not a Waste of Time: How reality TV can inform teaching best practices

Seven Essentials for 21st Century Education and Teaching: Stuff it took me 20 years to learn and I’m still trying to figure out

Rules of Engagement: The “Top 4” preconditions for learner engagement

 

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What’s the difference between education and learning?

 

 

“Education is what others do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself.”

 

Amy J.C. Cuddy

 

 

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Learning how to learn and deciding how to decide

 

We are all lifelong learners, and this has got me thinking about the learning that occurs outside of formal, post-secondary classrooms via the series of decisions, big and small, that comprise each person’s life path. In clinical/professional practice, critical judgment and decision-making are key, and we get to hone these skills every day in the multiplicity of choices that we are continuously called to make.

Sometimes the implications and outcomes of making one choice over another are clear; but a lot of the time there’s mighty thick cloud cover. On those occasions I have found myself wishing for a crystal ball to foresee the results of a specific decision before I decide. And maybe some future convergence of digital technology and computing (“the singularity”) will offer an uber-intelligent clarity and vision to better inform which direction to take. But at this time we pretty much weigh our options and just do the best we can.

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So, I’ve been wondering…is life’s learning trajectory essentially based on how we navigate through our own individual series of crossroads? For example…

 

We have to make many decisions without benefit of much experience or perspective to guide us:

Which high school? What’s after that? What’s my career path? How do I approach parenting? Do I choose to be a parent?

 

Some decisions are made either by default (inertia, status quo), or because we are willing to take a chance and leap into the unknown:

Start a relationship or end the relationship? Take the job or leave the job? Stick close to home or move to a whole new place?

 

Some decisions can be heartbreaking, and represent a lack of positive choices at all:

Do I pay the rent or feed the kids? Support the family or get an education?

 

And many crossroads test our own moral compass and integrity:

Should I speak out or follow the pack? Stand up and take action or do nothing?

 

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The chaotic complexity of an individual’s inward/outward subjective experience and learning is never still. Each person’s journey accretes a unique composition and form. And every decision point at every crossroads iteratively informs the ones still to come.

Through this lens, effectively teaching professional decision-making might rest on our ability to come alongside learners, and link our vast, collective landscape of lifelong learning with discrete and situational reflective practice. In other words, the ultimate “meta crossroads” are learning how to learn and deciding how to decide. Over and over. Each and every day.

 

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Fostering instructional immediacy in online classrooms

 

How can we create online learning environments that are as dynamic, collaborative and successful as the best face-to-face classrooms? Is it even possible? My own experience in online graduate teaching over the past 12 years suggests an emphatic “yes”. Or, should I say, an emphatic “yes, but…”.

 

Just as there are multiple and diverse classroom-based teaching approaches (some more successful than others in engaging learners and mobilizing knowledge transfer), there are as many ways and means of online instructional approaches. All students, regardless of the learning platform, engage best when they experience high instructional immediacy. That is, a sense of warmth, caring, support and positive regard in the learning environment.

 

A recent book focused on online teaching in the health professions (Melrose, Park & Berry, 2013) offers tips on creating and maintaining instructional immediacy in online settings, and it’s validating to see many of my own approaches and strategies reflected.

 

Here are 10 tips for how online instructors can project warmth and likeability (instructional immediacy):

 

1. Post a positive and supportive welcome message to greet students the first time they log into the course and each week thereafter

 

2. Share online bios (pictures are a bonus) (students and instructor)

 

3. Create smaller sub-groups for online discussion and reflection on course materials and assignments (8-10 students is optimal in my experience)

 

4. Include short (< 5 minutes) videos introducing course topics and offering tips and key learning to personalize each week’s focus

 

5. Assign “learning buddies” among students in the course to structure collaboration and collegiality

 

6. Have early and ongoing online conversations about process (versus course content)

What is it like to be in this course?

What are you looking forward to, and what is one thing you are concerned about?

How can we challenge each-other in ways that foster debate and dialogue but still feels respectful and affirming?

How can I (instructor) help maximize your learning and value from this course?

 

7. Set clear expectations in the Course Syllabus about online participation (my expectation of students is at least one original post per week, and at least two replies to other students’ posts per week)

 

8. Offer targeted encouragement at points in the course where motivation may be flagging (e.g., right after Reading Week, towards the final weeks of the course)

 

9. Use intentional word choices in online communication with students:

 

 Thumbs down  Thumbs up
The focus of this course is… Our course will focus on…
You will be required to… We’ll be working together to accomplish…
Students’ feedback has indicated… The conversation in our group this week has highlighted…

 

10. End the course with an explicit call to action – How does the learning in this course fit into the bigger picture of students’ learning trajectories and career goals? (here’s an example)

 

 

Student course evaluations attest to the possibility of online learning as a fun, rigorous and enriching alternative to face-to-face contact. Here are some representative student comments from the course evaluations for the 2014 online course I taught, both positive and negative (but comments overwhelmingly slanted toward the positive):

The instruction was very clear and very intellectually stimulating. The video clips were very well presented and made the instruction seem not virtual at all.

I enjoyed the online format of the course. I feel the online discussion help my learning and I benefit more from these discussions than in-class ones.

I really didn’t like the fact this course is online. I feel that I could have learned a lot more by having a classroom environment and participating through talking instead of writing
weekly reflections just because I had to.

Excellent, the most involved and interactive online course I have ever taken. I felt very engaged and connected to the instructor, students and material.

 

 

As students increasingly orient themselves to rich digital communication and sharing, this teaching/learning platform is aligned with what our students are already doing in their day-to-day lives. Not every student, but lots of our students.

 

Related:

Much ado about online learning

The three most important tips for teaching online

6 tips for facilitating webinars 

 

 

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You’ve earned more than a piece of paper

 

Convocation ceremonies are always inspiring, and today’s was no exception. Many students opt to forego the pomp and speeches. But graduation represents an important transition, and one worth celebrating.

big time. Most things of value do. The financial costs are considerable, and so are the sacrifices along the way: family, free time, hobbies and interests, early mornings and late nights. And at the end of this particular journey comes the deep satisfaction of a thing completed.

There is always the next mountain to climb, but while all those other names are called out, after you’ve walked across the stage and shaken lots of hands, it’s a nice place to sit for awhile and enjoy the view. You’ve earned it.

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