M2–Michael, Imagining the Efforts Required

Random thoughts here:

What I realized yesterday during our synchronous session was that our current online course–and maybe all of them?–is essentially a “flipped” classroom: that is, the things we are used to using face-to-face classtime for–presentation and explanation of the material, discussion–is now happening outside of class, as individual work mediated and enriched though the discussion-like interactions of VT and SB and diigo; our synchronous time simply coordinates and facilitates the more-independent journeys of the students.  I have some experience with this, so I’ve got a more familiar framework to put this in, and perhaps to think about the course I’m preparing.

What I’m trying to wrap my head around is the nature of the teaching effort in the online instruction I’m likely to take on. Frankly, I’m trying to assess the mental and interpersonal energy required. In the course I’m (still) planning, I have my lectures and powerpoints down, and, while I try to improve them each time, I’m comfortable with presenting them, as polished as they are, as my principal teaching effort. Okay, perhaps too comfortable! But should I now imagine setting those up to run automatically, and devoting myself instead to the new tasks of questioning each student about each lecture and reading, checking those responses, replying to each, observing students replying to each other, while trying to find some way to shape an online conversation–pointing out the student responses that are most productive, redirecting those who are off task? I can see the value of it, but. as a world-class introvert, I’m already planning to up my protein intake and keep some five-hour energy bottles on hand.

This will work so much better with the right kind of student–self-motivated, organized, deadline-keeping, technologically comfortable,  confident students who are comfortable sharing first impressions and tentative thoughts. That’s not everybody.

Final thought:  I found Van de Vort and Pogue’s article “Teaching Time Investment: Does Online Really Take More Time than Face-to-Face?”unintentionally hilarious: “Communication with individual students was not considered to be instruction time” and “No initial course development time was included in the study . . . ” So what were they measuring?

4 thoughts on “M2–Michael, Imagining the Efforts Required

  1. I’ll make sure to add it to the course bibliography, but here is an article I came across that addresses student attitudes toward technology. As you mentioned, that seems like it could be the make or break of an online course.
    Kirkwood A, Price L. Learners and learning in the twenty-first century: What do we know about students’ attitudes towards and experiences of information and communication technologies that will help us design courses? Studies in Higher Education 2005;30(3):257-74.

  2. Thanks, Susan. Isn’t it interesting how issues that have always been there (such as student comfort with the interface, including, to this very day for me, note-taking-during-lecture, which is a dying art) now, in online instruction, move to the center?

  3. Michael,

    You are absolutely right about that article. It is a good example of the fallacy that numbers don’t lie. Of course they do, when there is a falsehood to the initial questions for which measurement is sought!

    I want to follow up on your other comment though, about the kinds of students that are most likely to benefit from this kind of instruction: confident students who are comfortable sharing first impressions, etc. Of course, students can get lost in a traditional classroom as well and many do. The ability to write rather than raise one’s hand in a room full of people may be liberating for some, as I think it is for me. But I am still wondering how the instructor is meant to keep track of all the students and who is fully participating. Just in this class so far we are using several different platforms and types of technology; I think it will be very easy to allow a student to fall through the cracks. Are there ways to automatically register how many interactions a particular student has without having to keep count as one reads through all the blogs, voice threads, etc? In another much simpler sort of online course I taught, I could see which students were present for synchronous interactions and which had later accessed the recorded sessions, but that is about all.


    1. Michael, I follow your words to the image of ourselves too comfortable in our seasoned instructional snakeskins, and I wonder if the bottom line of this course for me, and for some of us, is to shed that skin and to finally spank ourselves into a wholly different kind of teaching. No smells but our own, different checks and balances (Don, numbers lying, man, love!) of presence-absence of corporal matter, and in the end, the line, online, and the hope that regardless of whether or not numbers lie (again, yup, they do), we shall keep contributing to other human beings learning, expanding their horizons, becoming better human beings. Susan, thanks for the citation, that article sounds very, very good. Don, about the registering the interactions, that was a question I rose when I first took the VT seminar with Leah this Spring. I don’t have an answer to that, but I’m hoping that perhaps in ‘reviewing’ (more lightly than I would ‘evaluate’ weekly 1-page response papers to texts assigned) voice threads, diigo biblio entries, and blog entries to SB, I may get a good sense of the ‘presence’ of mosts students in class. Those falling through cracks will add to my frustration, which has grown through the past ten years, as the cap size of my seminars has been brought up from 8 to 20, and I feel there are more students receding into the back of the ‘presential’ classroom.

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