The past two weeks has been both uplifting and reflective. When studying both the “Five Stage Model” [Salmon 2013] and the “Community of Inquiry” (CoI) [Vaughan 2103] my teacher self has been confirmed and I realize that I am doing much right in my online teaching, but there are also very much room for improvements, which has led me to reflect over my courses and what to do.
It’s important to get the students going early in a course, especially online. I really make an effort to make everything work for them in the beginning. I give them as much help as possible during the first week both regarding the technical side, which never should be a problem, and with the course content. Usually with a short response time.
The next part is a bit harder. The online socialization. I try to incorporate activities that should promote this like synchronous meeting via video conferencing tools. The synchronous elements are very hard in my courses. Virtually every student are taking other courses or are working making synchronous activities down prioritized. Making these activities mandatory will only result in more drop outs.
Asynchronous socialization activities like a presentation of the students also result in more drop outs. We seem to recruit a significant group of people that are taking an online course because they can be anonymous. They would never take a course on campus for different reasons, mental illness or imprisonment for example.
I might sound negative, but I am not. Most students are happy and eager to take part in most activities and I really agree with both the Five Stage Model and the CoI, but there are some significant challenges in some courses and some student groups.
I like that the word Teaching is used instead of Teacher in the Community of Inquiry. Everyone, both students and teachers are responsible for the teaching process. The peer assessment is a good example of this. The assessment is otherwise a bit of a problem in online teaching I think. I have used peer assessment successfully in different courses and it saves time for me, it stimulates students to socialize and they tend to try harder. In my future courses, I think I will try to incorporate more self-assessment. It is always good to analyze oneself. To find strengths and weaknesses in one’s own person. Most students are quite bad at this, I think. They are usually more focused on the exams than to reflect on their own learning. They have to be forced to do this by using quizzes, exit tickets or why not a learning blog like this.
Salmon G. (2013) The Five Stage Model. [website] https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html
Vaugham N.D., Cleveland-Innes M. and Garrison D.R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press.