As an educator, I realize that to stay relevant in my field it is imperative that I am knowledgeable about online learning. With the increase in people acquiring bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees without ever having to step into a classroom I believe the academy, and the professors within it, must change the way we think about teaching and learning. Also, as a teacher educator (I teach teachers how to teach children) I think that learning these skills will benefit the teachers that I teach; thus benefiting the students that they teach. I am not sure if I will ever be where Leah is and be able to teach others how to use this technology, but I am excited to know that it is available to assist in the learning process.
In reading the article by Ragan and Tehegeen (2003) I was surprised, and pleased, to learn that much of their recommended strategies for workload management in the online environment were the same strategies that I suggest for beginning teachers. For example, they found some of the most effective strategies were “identifying and acquiring existing learning resources, establishing and distributing reusable templates, providing the course author with a sample online course, providing students with specific instruction for assignments, applying project planning and management methods to the course development process, etc…” In teaching future educators, I advise them of the same exact things. First year teachers are told to “beg, borrow, and steal; don’t reinvent the wheel” and use lessons that are already created and available online or through other resources. We also encourage the use of rubrics as they provide a manageable way to grade lots of assignments.
Admittedly, the article by Van de Vorde and Pogue (2012) really resonated with me. I have somehow allowed myself to believe that online teaching results in increased workload for the teacher. My best friend attends Devry, a popular online university, and it seems to me that she actually does more work (I use this word “work” to mean labor) than the students who attend classes I teach at Emory. I wonder if the professor, who is on the other side of her work, is working that hard, or that much, as well. I am just not so sure. Still, the world of online teaching is alluring and is in many ways quite sexy. I am drawn to the idea that I can teach classes and travel abroad, or simply be out of town visiting my mother. Does it get any better than that?
My experience with VoiceThread was odd. I was uncomfortable and I felt clumsy. I hope it didn’t sound that way to the people who listened to my VoiceThread. I felt it was an anomalous, one-sided, way to have a conversation and, because I had not yet seen the faces or heard the voices of the other people in the class, I had no idea who I was talking too. I’m not Catholic, but I imagined that is how I might feel in the confessional booth…who is on the other side of the wall and what are they thinking about what I am saying? I am recognizing the need for Face-time, particularly in conversations with new folks who have not been introduced to me in any other way.