Thursday, May 26, 2016

Online Learners all get the Front Row

     In the online classroom,  every student in the class is in the front row.  Everyone can see and hear. You don't have to worry about your voice carrying, or that someone can't read your writing on the whiteboard. No one is jumping up and leaving when the bell rings, questions unanswered.  No one is dominating the class so that others can't talk.  There is less chance for the conversation to go off-topic, and zero chance that you have to repeat yourself because someone is late. 

     This means that online teaching can be as surprisingly time-consuming and exhausting as it is rewarding and exciting. While we have the chance to interact with each student as an individual with our feedback, that can take a lot of effort in larger courses.  And while there is a growing array of tools to use to create active learning environments for our students,  becoming experts on what and how to use them takes time and effort.  We have to stay on our virtual toes all the time; it is a different mindset to being "on" for a class period.  It is a shift in perspective that requires intentional adjustments. 

    But the more I teach online the more I think it is ultimately well worth the shift. I have found that I get to know so many students on a personal basis online, and the format has given them a chance to help me  not just by with my typos (which happens more often than I like to admit) but by pointing out relevant articles and contributing amazing posts and ideas that there simply is no venue for in a ground classroom. Hybrid has long been my favorite format, but as my schedule has become filled with creating and facilitating more and more online courses, I am gaining a deeper appreciation of what it can bring to our learning experiences. 

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