Motivation for teaching online (or how to stop worrying and learn to love the bomb)

Two things motivate me to want to teach in the online classroom. One is that so much instruction is moving online and I need to be part of that to stay relevant. While I am not sure I will ever have a credit course to teach online, I still want to know HOW to teach that way, and what the best practices are. For the courses I have taken online, I found it difficult to feel a part of the class, or connected to the instructor. I am feeling less that way with EFOT probably because Leah is engaged so much and we have options for communicating beyond discussion boards, which are very hard to keep up with if that’s the only peer-to-peer communication for the class. VT, for all its limitations, does make me feel more connected to my classmates because I can hear their voices.


It is also possible that if I could do even a one-shot library session online for a class — or even have online office hours — the professor would be more motivated to have me participate more actively in the class.


The other motivation is that I HAVE taught online — twice. I taught 45-50 minute workshops on Zotero online using the Bridgit option that Emory has (or had). Basically it’s a desktop sharing application. So they could see what I was doing on my laptop. However, I couldn’t see them because I was teaching to a classroom full of students in Mississippi and they didn’t have a camera for me to see them. It was very strange — I felt like I was not connecting with them at all, even though I kept asking the prof and the students if what I was saying and doing was making sense, and I kept asking them for questions. Not having their faces in front of me to see their reactions was challenging. Now I want to be able to teach a workshop like Zotero or Endnote online and feel comfortable doing that. Also I think it would be quite interesting to teach a technology tool online and useful for Emory folks who can’t make it to the library. When I teach those workshops in person, I sometimes have to run from computer to computer to troubleshoot. How does one do that online, without losing all the other participants? I think the preparation for teaching these workshops online would have to include strategies for dealing with common problems that come up, both with the tools and with the computers people are using (PCs, Macs, different operating systems, issues with downloading the Endnote software from emory, etc.)

1 comment

  1. Hi Erin,

    Thanks for your good post and for sharing your motivations – I think these ideas make quite a bit of sense and I also think that your expertise will continue to be on the rise/in demand! I too, have done many trainings where I could not see anyone but as long as I can hear them, I can usually tune in enough to ask the right questions. I am not certain how you would go about a synchronous technology session, unless you were setting up a couple of hours to connect and then there would be individual work time involved. You guide them through the steps, they work, then submit their examples via the web into a chat window or something like that. Then you all review together.

    Tech troubleshooting on the fly can be very challenging – although it does help a LOT when you can screenshare, and you can actually have remote control over someone’s computer. Adobe Connect does offer that feature.

    And, sometimes, people just have to follow along the best way possible and an individual follow-up may be required.

    Let’s keep brainstorming and see what else comes up for you!

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