Many higher education institutions offer an online course format. Sometimes, the in-person course format becomes a no-go for students who would rather be more efficient.
What Aspect Of Online Course Format Contributed To Meet Your Learning
I met Sabrina Truby recently, and I was impressed by both her inspiring stories and sense of humor, but there was one aspect of her online course format that I was particularly taken with. It’s a type of course that’s increasingly popular as a more flexible option for students, but I was particularly interested in the mix of ideas and tactics that was included.
Having played with this type of course for a few years now, I was eager to see what Sabrina and other instructors of course combinations and techniques do, and I was impressed with her approach. In this Q&A session, Sabrina and I get into the game a bit, discussing her approach to teaching and teaching her students that she wrote about in her recent piece. We also cover lessons from her online courses.
What was part of your course structure that resonated with me the most?
I believe my tone was critical to the success of the course. I may not have been “sloppy”, but I wasn’t too stern either. I was just real and honest with the group, and I kept the end goal in mind: a great idea and project for the group. Each presentation had clearly defined goals and outcomes, and it made it easier for the students to stay focused.
What is one thing I could’ve done better?
One of the biggest challenges with online courses is that they aren’t designed for individual success, so giving students the confidence to really learn quickly is really difficult. Social networking came in extremely handy to a lot of my students. Many had never met someone before online, but they really had a connection with others. One of the neat aspects of this is that it adds another dimension to course design.
How did you determine what sections of a course style you should include?
Many of the concepts I taught in the course were things that I learned while traveling and meeting with other interesting people. When I was having dinner with a neighbor, I started learning about how we use left brain thinking as opposed to right brain thinking. I spoke to a priest over a couple of beers and learned about the gravity of gravity. Talking to someone about their vacation can be very humbling, and I also learned that I could create other types of interaction online. One aspect of online learning that I think could benefit from this type of interaction is the use of bubbles. The idea is to create context with something. Think about the dance between the photographer and the subject that you’re photographing. The idea of a bubble is to have a different observer see the same thing. This would be very helpful when learning new concepts online.
How has this experience played a role in changing your teaching/learning style overall?
I find that, with any kind of writing, the learner shares a piece of self-expression. With an online class, that self-expression is a bit more fluid because many of the ideas expressed are ones that can be easily “seen” in a different setting. I’m finding that I’m embracing the urge to share my ideas so that students have an opportunity to see what differentiates me from others. As a result, I am seeing more examples of common sense. Sometimes I just need to remember that when I’m explaining something to someone. This is a lesson that I’ve learned firsthand. I only come up with ideas when I don’t know what someone else is going to think. They need to give me that feedback!
What piece of learning or method did you really struggle with?
I struggled with balance. There are times when I feel like I am learning more with clarity and accuracy, but then the next week, I feel I’m losing my audience. For this reason, I have an abiding love for podcasts. I see them as an effective way to reach people when people are tuned out. They are the perfect short-form medium for bringing information to people in short spurts. While I feel I am improving in this area, I don’t consider myself a perfect lecturer yet.
Did I miss anything? Why, yes, yes. For a closer look at these issues, I highly recommend reading Sabrina’s blog. It’s a quick, fun read with tips that will help any instructor continue on the right track, and it will provide you with guidance for any great online course you’re now thinking about starting. You can sign up to review Sabrina’s courses and more if you’d like to.