OTL301 Post 2 – Your Current Practice

POST 2 – Your Current Practice

Go back to your blog and review your first post for this course, then create a new post and record your thoughts on the following questions.

  1. How has your view of the effective practice changed now that you have read more about teaching presence?

Having read Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s “Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education,” I see the importance of teaching presence in student success. The “Practical Inquiry Model” which promotes learners engagement in the process of critical thinking, is a helpful guide for teachers engaging in asynchronous text based conferencing environment.

  1. In what ways did the effective practice that you identified show the characteristics of teaching presence?

The effective practice I identified in my first post (Socratic method) showed the characteristics of teaching presence in that I value rhetorical questioning, discussion, and the promotion of hands on experiential learning in the classroom and online, rather than the ‘sage on the stage’ approach endorsed my many academics.

  1. How could the idea of teaching presence have made the experience even more effective than it was?

I think that Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s Practical Inquiry Model showing the process in which critical thinkers engage is useful because it shows the process by which students and teachers may engage in the online learning process. The ‘Triggering Event’, ‘Exploration’, ‘Integration’, and ‘Resolution’ circular stages are a useful reminders of the need to emphasize an interactive learning process where the teacher is present (teaching presence) and provides a forum for discussion and investigation. I often use this process in my face-to-face teaching environments.

In my Criminology and Sociology classes I ask a triggering question, and then present factual information that might counter myths and misconceptions to incite discussion and discovery. I then engage students in group work activities in which they engage with course material and are asked to solve an issue or a problem. This activity asks students to collaboratively engage and explore with material to explore the tension between what they may have assumed and what the scientific data presents. Once students work with their group to grapple with an issue they integrate their knowledge with ideas on how to resolve the problem to take into consideration the scientific research, for example, a policy recommendation to resolve the contradictions between the myths and misconceptions and scientific research findings. Finally, the resolution, is the student presentation of their findings in a supportive and collaborative classroom environment, whereby they provide a resolution that justifies action. In this way, students can provide social justice recommendations for future actions based on the new information including future questions to be addressed. The goal of this process is the enhancement of cognitive presence. The aim is to have students engage with the material in a way that enhances critical thinking. While some students do well in this format, my experience is that others do not. Those who complete the assigned class readings before class and know the material do better in terms of grappling with the group work discussion, while those who are not prepared, may be less motivated or interested. I find that those who are prepared and motivated come to resent those students who rely on them to ‘get’ the material. It is interesting to note that due to the stressful and complicated nature of student lives, not all students will show up prepared and motivated. Having been a student this past summer in the intensive TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language – program at Thompson Rivers University TRU, I understand this. Today’s students lead complex lives which require balancing of work, school, life, therefore, to expect students to ‘show up’ prepared is a excessive expectation. For these reasons, today’s teacher must accommodate diverse student teaching needs and stages of learning. Ultimately, the COL practical learning model which is pragmatic (Dewey) meets the goal of linking theory with practice in a way that attempts to reach students where they are at. The asynchronous text based conferencing environment, while challenging, can support learning through cognitive presence, only if the teacher continually motivates and encourages students to succeed.

Ellen Faulkner

October 7, 2018