OTL 301 – Post 4 – The voice of experience!

The interview with a colleague who has taught several continuous entry courses was very helpful and informed me on a great deal of topics.  In terms of teaching presence and the promotion of community, the main points I took away from the conversation were:

-get in touch with the students early and keep in touch regularly if students are not submitting their work (create templates for these types of communications, as they will recur often)

-have a rapid turnaround on grading assignments, students need to receive feedback to know how they are progressing, otherwise they may “stall” (templates for feedback can be created as well, and when certain types of issues are common, perhaps have a template of reminders to send to students in advance of submissions)

-it is hard for an OLFM to “promote community” in continuous entry courses as the students do not know each other, they are ¬†completing tasks at different times and from different places

-the course and assignment design should facilitate the process of critical inquiry, if it does not, it is difficult for the OLFM to do this after the fact (the interviewee pointed out that these are interview questions for the hiring of course developers and OLFMs, but really felt that once the course is designed, it is no longer time to be asking these questions)

-digital tools embedded in the course can be useful if the students are willing to use them, which an OLFM can encourage

-posting or emailing timely news items that are relevant to what is in the course can be another way to use digital tools to enhance teaching presence and to demonstrate to students that what they are learning is useful beyond the parameters of the course

Some struggles that were discussed included:

-some things are harder to do online, some material is difficult to cover without the f2f contact

-some courses are not well designed (interviewee felt courses should only be designed by people who teach online as they have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t)

-difficult students: as with f2f courses, some online courses may have difficult students, and the interactions can be difficult when it is online – this issue is one with which I am quite familiar due to research I have been working on regarding cyberbullying in post-secondary institutions