There are a myriad of tools available to an educator to create a rich and vibrant on-line world that either does not require an LMS or enhances it. No one place is enough to create a deep learning experience so an on-line educator must be prepared to explore the possibilities.
I have a student who because of his personality and the program he is planning to attend is demanding of himself that he earns an A+ in my class. He is a delightful student who regularly helps his peers if they miss a class or a struggling. The problem? He is so hard on himself. When we discuss difficult topics in class he is worried and stressed about learning them for tests. On test day he is worried and stressed about doing well. When he makes mistakes on labs he worries about it. If his class average goes down half a percent I will often get an email (all my students have access to their gradebook).
I routinely, when I see him worry (f2f) or get his emails (online class), I tell him he will be fine, that he will get the grade he needs to enter the program. I remind him how hard it is for adults to go back to school, especially when they have been out for a long time.
I see myself and my cohort in him. I am incredibly fortunate to have him in my class; not only because he is the kind of student every teacher is fortunate to have, but because I can see us in him. I make the same demands on myself. I stress about obtaining perfection in my classes. I am demanding A+’s from myself as, way down the road, I hope to get my PhD and I know top grades are demanded.
Who is to blame for all this? Is it the programs that require an A+ to enter, whether warranted or not? Is it the student who, being out of school for so long, knows the sacrifices that they, and their families, are making so that they can attend school and achieve their dream? I suspect it is both and more.
It is important for students to remember that “it’s about progress, not perfection” and while doing well can be very important, you should do your best, being present, and recognize that sometimes you will not get the A+.
Now I just need to practice what I preach
I was very apprehensive to use D2L when VIU switched from Moodle. I was very comfortable in Moodle. It was a warm, cozy nest where I tucked all my learning materials for students. I had only used D2L once before, without any training and so took an instant, and arbitrary, dislike of it.
VIU decided to switch to D2L as D2L houses Canadian student information on Canadian soil. I agree that this is good, but I was dragged in to the new Learning Management System (LMS) at the last minute and unwillingly. I liked my Nest!
Now, of course, I wonder what all my issues were about. I enjoy D2L and find it very robust! It does what I want it to in a variety of ways. No longer do I have a cozy nest tucked full of interesting things but now I feel like I am a creator of a gathering place. Not only are there books, but there are areas for creative discussion, assessment, places to hand in work. It feels bright, open and airy.
Part of these changes may be the way I have grown while taking the OLTD courses, but part is also the way I can use D2L to create a community of learners. It enhances learning rather than driving it.
What I like about D2L:
- It can do so many things! I can post notes, create a quiz, start a discussion, have a dropbox for work, email, keep grades, make a checklist….
- I really love the gradebook. Students can have access to it if you wish and so can see what work is outstanding. Since starting to use the gradebook this semester I have not had to answer once, “What grade am I getting?” “What work do I need to hand in?”
- I can completely organize all my files in to neat and tidy folders. I just learned how to do this and I am very excited to try it out. My previous filing system was very haphazard (stick it somewhere and try to find it after)
What I dislike about D2L
- The lack of control on the appearance! I cannot adjust my frontpage. The colours I use are chosen for me. This does, however, create consistency between the different VIU classes
I am really happy that I have learned more about D2L through taking OLTD 504 as I am implementing a bunch of changes for intersession.
I do wonder though, what would this activity have been like if there was a student who chose not to participate? We would have missed out on one entire important aspect of the course. Still, I would have been responsible for learning less by myself so I still think a jigsaw activity is an advantageous way to learn. I am glad that I have participated in one online. I will have to think how to incorporate a jigsaw activity in to a blended class when we don’t meet asynchronously. I probably will have learning the components before class online, then doing the jigsaw during class, face-to-face.
Still – Thanks to all of my group. You made this enjoyable and FUN. I will say, it isn’t easy going last after everyone did such an impressive job!
Questions posed: What were the challenges and wonders of working collaboratively online? How might you do things in similar ways or differently with your students? How did you feel about working with the LMS system with which you were working?
I was placed on a team of OLTD students to learn about D2L. As it is a robust LMS we are each to learn a portion of the system then instruct the others in the rest. I currently am using D2L in my classes but am looking forward to learning more about the system.
SUNDAY – FRIDAY:
There are a flurry of emails between the members of the team. We decide to wait to plan until we meet synchronously in class on Saturday as many of us are feeling overwhelmed and need time to adjust to the new class, OLTD 504 Learning Systems.
We have our online class from 10 – 12. Our group meets after in a collaborate room and use a Google+ doc to plan the jigsaw. Unfortunately I have an important family commitment and am unable to attend more that 10 minutes. Fortunately I know and trust my cohort so I ask them to give me an assignment. I am not worried. Had this been the first course, it may have been different.
When I look to see what my part of the jigsaw is I discover I am supporting a colleague in an aspect in which I am familiar. I am also responsible for teaching about release conditions. I have only used them once, so I am not an expert by any means. This will be a good opportunity to learn something new about a LMS that I use & like.
MONDAY – TUESDAY Reflections:
I notice that I have no apprehension about giving up control to my peers. I have complete confidence in their abilities to learn and teach a portion of the LMS. I think that is why I would be able to leave the planning session before it was finished. If there was a problem, I could connect with them and we would resolve it. We have built up tremendous trust in each other in a very short time (7 months). I have also seen many examples of their work & work habits. We are a group of high (over?) achievers.
I am not sure if I would use an assignment like this in classes I teach. As I teach adults in Adult Education, there is such a diverse background of experience and abilities. Some classes it would work quite well in, others not so much. I suspect it would be difficult not only because of the diverse abilities of students but also because the courses are only 10 – 13 weeks long! I know that not all of my students will complete all assignments or attend important classes. There are a few who will not complete online assignments, despite the class being 25% blended.
In class jigsaws may work well. I think I will plan one about HIV/AIDS. This way I can still circulate to ensure that students are on track and understand the material. There is a lot of paired work in my class, and on-line discussions but students are not responsible for teaching each other.
…. To be continued (after completion of LMS jigsaw activity on Saturday)
A question posed:
What challenges and opportunities do you see for the realization of your philosophy of education in the evolution of eLearning as we know it?
– Instructors need to be taught the new ways of learning & remembering. There isn’t always funding for this
– Building a sense of community in each class. In Adult Education, each course is so short, 12 – 13 weeks.
– Teaching the Learning Management System (LMS). Each student has taken a different path to my course. Each course I have to teach how to use the LMS to achieve a basic competency.
– World Wide Learning Communities
– Able to access knowledge anywhere, anytime
– Control! Students can control their own learning
We are so very fortunate to be at the starting wave of an educational revolution. Education has been locked in to the same way of learning since the industrial revolution. Knowledge was given from instructors, learners had to memorize facts so they could be recalled quickly when needed. Now we can create LMS to capture multiple styles of learning and connect with people, experts & students, from all over the world. We can connect and learn any time that we want! It is not so important that we memorize facts, but rather that we can access the information in our network. Ultimately Students can control their learning in a way that was either not possible or very difficult before.
Being at the start of anything new is tricky. We are still at what Simon Sinek calls the “early adapter” stage of online learning. Thus we are responsible for showing the advantages of using LMS and need to be mentors for those who wish to try eLearning. Funding, time for training can be a problem. One solution is to connect with a group of like-minded instructors. I have found my group through the OLTD program at Vancouver Island University. Interestingly, by experiencing this community I am learning ways to promote community in my own classroom. Promoting community can be difficult in adult education as there is not continuity of classes, each is on their own path. I have the same problem with the LMS I use. Every semester I have to reteach it. There are many who come to my class who have not used computers to any capacity before.
Although there are challenges, I believe it is ultimately worth perusing online education. Eventually I think we will get to the point where we can’t conceive of NOT having a digital component to the classroom.