Hmm … what form of interactions have Dani and I implemented in our course prototype? Good question…
Before getting into this however, like Shelby, I inevitably start to wander down memory and remember my own formative experiences with online learning. My own recollections are strikingly similar to hers…
We HAD to post at least three times a week, and it HAD to be connected to the reading and material we were learning in class. Looking back, besides remembering that I HAD to do this type of assignment, I do not recall one single discussion topic we discussed.
Like Shelby, I struggle to remember topics discussed. But what I do remember is the feeling of having to complete my requisite posts, regardless of whether or not I had something to say. I also remember the feeling of really wanting to get into the discussion thread early because I wanted to get my two cents in before somebody else posted along a similar vain to my own thinking, and not wanting to look like I was piggybacking or copying. Honestly, it felt like the discussion threads were not really generating much, but being used as an add-on. Something we could say we did as a class to justify the existence of the course being online.
Good times …
I think I’m going to twist this question and make it more relevant to the clientele we are actually giving this a go with. We’re talking about grade 2s who are getting their first real go with using a LMS. There is a lot of play and a lot of discovering going on. The experimenting feels great, and as mentioned in our peer feedback: “… in the long run it will benefit them a great deal!” I believe this to be true and even from a distance, I can tell Dani’s kids are starting to hone skills that will allow them to participate with online learning communities and use them for learning as opposed to learning how to use an LMS (as they seem to be doing now)
Instead of asking what kinds of interactions are implemented, I think I will ask myself what kinds of interactions are we preparing our students to take part of. What kinds of interactions are we experimenting with?
One thing we are working on is trying to foster opportunity for our students run learning opportunities of their own outside of the classroom, and work collaboratively to build deeper understandings of our content matter (states of matter). As Dani says as part of our reflection on our peer feedback:
There are a few directions we may go with this, and we may design options for several. Dani already uses Facebook with her class and this gives an easy to use tool that is already known and in place. This is a direction we are going to pursue in terms of course design and I’m sure we’ll give it a go now that her students are clearly getting into their learning community.
Momentum is absolutely building, and that’s evidenced by the stream of comments that are starting to populate the classroom stream. Her kids are playing with building what Bates defines as a social presence:
…is the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.
By facilitating our grade 2 and 3 learners participating with their community from home through video, whatever the tool, I feel liek we are setting them up for future purposeful use of engaging and relevant asynchronous tools like Flipgrid.
Discussion for learning
In looking over what we have and what we are building, I believe we are also preparing our young learners for learning opportunities that revolve around online participation and discussion. Our course is certainly a blended learning one. As such, there is perhaps less emphasis places on setting up synchronous learning opportunities. There is still a fair bit that will depend on face-to-face learning in the classroom. And for good reason!
But in looking over what we have set up, and what we are setting up, I believe that Dani and I are helping build our students’ skill-set to participate in online discussion based online learning communities, and perhaps online communities that rely on live, synchronous gathering. We have introduces them to a variety of google tools like docs, slides and forms. Some of this, as recounted by Dani, fell apart before our eyes when the kids started to actually conceptualize that they were all participating on the same live slide show:
It was actually pretty funny … and it was learning!
Online vs Traditional classroom?
I think that it’s important to kind of loop back to an ongoing theme that, for me, really began to germinate with my very first Ed tech course over a year ago. The tools that foster and provide wonderful online learning opportunities are as wonderful as the deliberate design and deployment of the opportunities that use these tools. That is to say, it comes back on us as teachers to use these tools intentionally, and help our students use these tools well.
This theme surfaces through several of Bate’s closing remarks”
It could be argued that there is no or little difference between online collaborative learning and well-conducted traditional classroom, discussion-based teaching…. Once again, we see that the mode of delivery is less important than the design model, which can work well in both contexts.
At first, I was wondering if Dani and I were using some of these tools for the sake of using them. But I really don’t believe that is the case. With the age group we are teaching, I feel like we are finding a balance between very deliberately scaffolding use of the tools with fostering feasible opportunities to use these to spark learning in our chosen content area.
Thanks for reading, and hope this makes sense! (It barely makes sense to me)