Here are a couple of thoughts that have percolated regarding Connected Courses and the Pre-Course video with Click, Link and Embed...
Signing up for the course, reconfiguring the feed (thanks, Alan!), and reading the initial posts prompted me to revise and edit the links on my blog page. It’s about time.
The key phrases and concepts from the first video were best stated by Jim Groom, with his emphasis on instructor presence in an online course. It is ‘no small thing to be connected to a widely distributed groups of learners,’ and for many participants, including the students who attend the college where I work, “Is anybody out there?” is the principal question. We’ve worked on student success, retention and completion for many years (I’ve taught online since 1995, before there were such things as an LMS, when saber-toothed cats roamed the landscape…), and those rates of retention and completion are consistently lower in an online class than other delivery formats.
Instructors in any format make the difference for students, and any sort of encouragement, feedback and demonstration of presence serves to help. Given that a significant portion of students who enroll at our college test at lower-than-college levels for English, reading and writing, and have not had successful educational experiences in the past, may be first generation college students, may not have English as their first language, may be working, single parents or dealing with other barriers, probably have not acquired the skills to be strong self-learners, it is the instructor and the design of their course that can make (or break) their learning experience. I think it’s true, ‘Being there is how you build trust.’
Why open learning? Because all learning is open. Teaching is sharing with learners.
Why be a node on the web? Aren’t we all? In this connected world, working as an educator means connecting learners with knowledge, skills and values, and distributing those connections in a way that best helps those learners achieve their goals. In my world, that means some acquiring basic skills, getting a job in the 21st century, and maybe moving on to more advanced educational opportunities. Learning to become an effective web node (new phrase to be added to our job descriptions) is now part of those basic skills.
Why connected learning? Students pay to come to our school to get a degree, and if they learn something, well, that may be value added. But, the most valuable piece of their education, and ours as educators, is to plug into a network, to build and reinforce those connections. And we can help by being there.