|Photo by Ian Burt|
It's Not Because I Was Ready for This Course....
It's not because I'm a tech whiz. I'm not. Case in point: I let go of my computer for a few hours this week (they pried it out of my hands!) so that the helpful team in our computer services department could complete some updates. When my laptop came back, the new email interface threw me off so much that you'd think they'd sent me the equivalent of the backward bike that some playful welders rigged to go left when steered right. "Little" changes in the appearance of my inbox were disrupting my workflow, suddenly making it tough for me to scan and sort my messages at the quick pace I was accustomed to. For a good 24 hours afterward, I did a lot of growling at my inbox and telling myself to buck up and learn.
So no, clearly it isn't my technical prowess that's helping me find my way more easily through this second course in blended and online teaching.
Maybe, you think, it's because I've been through these ropes before, I know (at least a little) what to anticipate and what to do, and I bring a bit more confidence to the task. That may be part of what's happening for me, but I don't think it's the most important thing. Technologies keep changing at a fast pace, so past experience only gets me so far. For example, I'm working with a different LMS this time (Canvas vs. Blackboard), and I expect that I'll learn many other newer technologies and pedagogical approaches. That's why I'm taking the course--because these things keep changing, and I need to keep learning.
...It's Because This Course Was Ready for Me
The big difference that I really feel this time is that our instructor is doing a great job of anticipating the questions, worries, and struggles we might have as people who have a lot to learn about online, blended, and web-enhanced learning and teaching. Three "little" things that I've found helpful so far:
- Receiving an email in advance of the course that outlined expectations and made it clear what we needed to do to get started....including how to find the virtual front door and when to show up for the start of class. In a F2F school, new students get a tour of the building and a preview of the school. Online, students need some guidance about space and time, too.
- Viewing the task and visual help tips in a single window. When it was time to post links to our blogs, we could see the written instructions with some screenshots on the same page where we had to do the linking. No need to toggle to another screen, read technical jargon, and then try to remember it back where we had to complete the task. And therefore, no cognitive overload for our short-term memories while we were in the thick of trying to get a new task done.
- Seeing new comments in the course discussions from him on a daily basis makes it clear that he is here to help. We don't have to worry that we'll "do it all wrong" for a whole week (since that covers a lot of ground in a 6-week course!) before getting some corrective help. Our instructor is obviously present and teaching!
For me, these things are making this summer course pleasant, even fun. I hope you are enjoying summer as well. Need a pick me up? Maybe some Ella Fitzgerald will help: "Summertime...." Sing along!