29. May 2015 · Comments Off on OLTD 503 – Online Communication · Categories: OLTD 503 Reflections

503

Evidence: Final paper for OLTD 503 – Reflections on Communication and Community in Online Learning (Feb. 21, 2014)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

Undertake engagement with environment through online facilitation for effective learning

  • building learning communities and communities of practice

Consider responsibility, accountability and civility in online environments

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

As a final assignment in OLTD 503, we were asked to reflect upon our teaching philosophy in connection to online communication. I chose to summarize my thoughts in an APA format academic paper.

A cohesive online learning community plays an important role in effective online learning. During 503, I was introduced to many different models that described the process of group communication and online learning, but they all shared an emphasis on forming a learning community early on in the learning process. I learned that it is important to provide time for students to first become comfortable with the online environment before asking them to begin interacting with others or even to begin learning the content of the course. As a facilitator (instructor), I can foster online learning communities by carefully planning introductory activities (such as ice-breakers) and creating a safe learning environment.

For this assignment, I also reflected upon my responsibilities as a facilitator of an online learning community. Moderators do not need to be active participants in discussions designed for the students; rather, they should respond only when necessary to clarify or encourage further discussion. Planning is essential for successful online facilitation, and as an instructor I have a responsibility to my students to ensure that activities are well-designed with clear instructions. I also need to consider the time required to complete assigned tasks, ensuring that I do not ask so much of my students that they do not have time to process the information and respond thoughtfully.

As a face-to-face instructor, I understand how to build a learning community within my classroom where I am able to read the students’ body language and interact directly with them. Understanding how to build an online learning community is very important for instructors that are transitioning to a blended or online learning format. Online learning is not very effective when done in isolation; it is when a community of learning forms that deeper learning among students can happen. It can also be overwhelming from a workload perspective to transition from face-to-face instruction to an online environment. It is important to consider your responsibilities as an online instructor and clearly define your role to your students. As I move into a blended format, I need to consider what I have learned about building an online learning community and incorporate these techniques at the beginning of my courses.

 

Communication and Community in Online Learning

Evidence: Team Seminar Collaborate Session (Supporting Online Learning) and Seminar Newsletter (Feb. 10, 2014)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

Undertake engagement with environment through online facilitation for effective learning

  • Moderation and mediation
  • Understand how to build rapport and manage groups

 

Reflection to Support Evidence:

During 503 (January 4 – Feb 18, 2014), our cohort formed five teams to conduct learner-led seminars during our 6 weeks together. Each team prepared a 7-day learning experience, including an online seminar. Our four member team designed and conducted the final seminar on the topic of supporting online learning. The two pieces of evidence provided here are our team’s online seminar, where each team member had a speaking and guiding role, and the newsletter I created for our team.

The newsletter contained an outline of the week’s events and contact information for each of our team members. In order to entice our cohort to read over the newsletter, I used visuals such as colour, images and inspirational quotes about education. The newsletter also served to begin building rapport with our students, providing them with a photo and mini-biography of each team leader. The theme of the newsletter was incorporated into the slides used during our synchronous session, tying the 7-day course materials together as one package.

Teaching online was a new experience for me, but working with my team made the job less daunting. We were able to build a rapport with each other, and this carried us through a successful online seminar and learning week. Our team also practiced using the Collaborate environment prior to facilitating the synchronous session, so we were able to effectively use tools within the environment for effective learning. For example, I was able to clearly communicate instructions using video, audio and text, as well as move between rooms to monitor the breakout discussions and help support my teammates through the moderator chat.

The main learning activity for our synchronous session was a jigsaw. I have used this cooperative learning strategy often in a face-to-face environment, but was unsure if it could be successful in an online space. What I discovered is that through careful pre-planning and moderation of the synchronous session, an online jigsaw can be very effective.

Online facilitation requires careful planning and comfort with the environment. When the instructor has developed a rapport with their students, individual or group activities online can be very successful. An instructor must have solid moderator and mediator skills to ensure that students stay on track and learning is happening in a respectful environment. I will continue to practice my moderating and mediating skills as I incorporate more online learning in my face-to-face courses.

 

Team Seminar Blackboard Collaborate Session (must download Blackboard launcher to view) – Supporting Online Learning

Team Seminar Newsletter