Week 16: Our Students Online
Week 16: Our Students Online avatar

Ko & Rossen: chapter 10, Teaching online



This chapter made so much sense to me. It focuses on the obvious point that switching from an onsite class to an online course for the first time as a student is not that easy simply because it does require a good amount of self-discipline to be able to learn alone following directions from an online course. Everything is on a screen. The human interraction is not “physical” anymore (not quite real except for (somewhat) a video recording done by the instructor introducing himself/ herself at first or with Face Time on a Mac, for instance)  because you only have to rely on forums, discussion boards and  Skype if the instructor uses this tool. As noted in this chapter, the facial expressions, the hand delivered test won’t have their place anymore on an online class. There is also the technical part hoping that students will know how to manage with new software for some of them. Of course, the same goes for the instructor, perhaps new to this technology, who will have to know what he/she is doing by being beforehand well organized and knowing how to navigate between several different sofware tools. It seems to me that teaching online, if you are a novice and being a new student online as well, is a question of becoming  “a new YOU:” you have to re-train your brain into a new system of communication with others: understanding how to communicate in a new fashion if you are used to see and talk to people in person , knowing how to become interractive “digitally” with other students and your teacher and especially make sure that you know how specific online tools work. But again, it all depends on the teacher, who will have to prepare the “terrain:” make himself/herself available to students on a regular basis, have a clear, inviting and organized format online class, know how online tools work by explaining how this “new world” works to students  . As Ko & Rossen say it so well: the initial efforts for a well-organized online class have to come from a friendly  teacher who needs to set the tone from the very beginning.

 Nielsen Norman Group

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Jakob Nielsen, College Students on the Web (2010): I did like this article a lot in reference to multitasks because it exactly relates to my 14 year old daughter: as I am typing away in this POTCERT blog right now quietly in the kitchen next to my dog sleeping at my feet (no TV, no noise except for the refrigerator) , she is doing her homework upstairs (both online and on paper) while being multitasked:  on Facebook, listening to loud music on Pandora  (or iTunes sometimes), text messaging to her friends (they are probably doing the same thing too tonight) and checking her e-mail on Yahoo. These activities are all done at the same time meaning that her brain needs to be split in different directions. I find it “impressive:” to be able to be “serious” (doing the homework) while having fun by doing what she wants to do and listen to. And that is after a day of volleyball practice and going to bed late the night before  (sleep-over with a girlfriend). I do not encourage this behavior but it seems to be a need for some teeangers to behave this way. The various attractions exist: social media, iPhone, etc., and the homework to be done is just another feature somewhere in between.

For the READING section in the article, it mentions that most teenagers are poor readers. We cannot generalize because some teenagers do read but perhaps and mainly because it is a requirement for school but again, there are exceptions to the rule. It might also depend on the parents: if children see their parents read instead of spending time watching TV. several hours a day, it will send a better signal to children, who would then be more inclined to read.


Richtel (NYTimes), Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction (2010): I liked the Nielsen Group article being more of a survey but the one from the NYTimes is my favorite one because it gives specific examples so true to life.   What I was saying about my daughter does fit perfectly with this subject again: distraction and trying to work because you cannot do your homework without having fun at the same time. The serious side of life as a teenager in school has to mix with the fun part of life : being cool means to know what is going on around you via the social medias and still give some time to the homework but the latter is not the prime thing to do because teenagers think that there is always time to do the homework later so you wait until the last minute to do it. I could not agree more with this article: there is a real danger of being consistantly attracted by the Web when you spend so much time on it on a daily basis. You just cannot focus on one thing well because you are always tempted to switch back to other “fun” things instead of doing one thing at a time well and in less amount of time. I like this sentence in this article, which basically summarizes everything when Mr. Diesel asserts about teenager students that “It’s in their DNA to look at screens.” So true. The Web is ok when you know how to use it but the main important thing is not losing your “deep analytical thought” (Mr. Reilly, p.6).


  • information_technologieECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information  Technology (2010): logoMy actual experience is based on my students’ connection to the Web on a daily basis: they use (most of them)  Skype and their smart phones (but not all of them) to do their homework online on Blackboard. Such a small screen but they are ok with that, I guess. A question of habit. But I have several students who have their laptop in my classes while I teach so they can access the same sites as me when I show them in class on a big screen. To them, it is easier to see because they are closer to their eyes and at the same time they often  check other websites at the same time to see if what I show has the same content on similar websites. A few students have iPads but most of them prefer a MacBookPro or a PC laptop. Text messaging during class time is still a problem and they frankly don’t care when reminded not to use their phone. They stop to please you but do it again 10 minutes later. Not every student behaves this way but quite a few do. And in regards to homework, there is still a good number of students who rather like doing their homework the old fashioned way on paper rather than online. But there are, of course, students who like doing their work online too so this new technology is definitely an option to those who prefer a screen instead of a hardcover workbook.

FAQ Poll

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4 Responses to Week 16: Our Students Online
Week 16: Our Students Online avatar

  1. Erica Duran says:

    You’re so right – it is about beomcing a “new YOU.” The re-invention of oneself online is often seen by many as creaiting a new persona, and I suppose in some ways it is, but it is also re-creating the best parts of us in a new environment – perhaps the most effective parts of us?

    I like your FAQ poll. You might consider the purpose this will serve – is this a one-time survey they take and you read alone without commenting on? Is this part of a larger conversation where you will then discuss individual results with those students? Is this really an assessment tool and if so, for who? The student doing a self assessment or you doing an assessment of him/her? These might all be things to think about to help you determine whether or not you also need a FAQ because the poll and the FAQ will serve two different purposes, right?

    I really enjoyed your insight this week!

    • D. Arnaud says:

      Thank you so much, Erica!

      This week 16 has been running into some serious technical problems to try to insert the post inside the Pedagogy first! potcert class. It does not even look quite like I wanted to in regards to the format but it is better than not having anything for that week!

      FAQ: I tried to be in the student’s mind when answering those questions. We had the choice between 5 and 10 questions and it was already so late when I did it after spending quite a bit of time to finish the entire assignment with the reading and my “critical” approach (and all of that before going to bed). Heavy schedule this semester.

      I have to give more thought to your questions but I know that I had a lot more questions in my mind to make a better FAQ.

      Thank you so much for your very nice compliment and wishing you a good end of the week,


  2. Jim Sullivan says:

    Thanks for sharing your reflections on your daughter’s experiences. I think it crucial that we think of online students as fellow humans and learners not some alienated other, which to me is so often the case in the things I read about online students.

    • Danièle Arnaud says:

      Thank you, Jim, for your comment. Yes, my daughter is certainly a good reference. At times!
      I can only agree with you about online students: the human part cannot be deleted at all. We are talking to people with brains not just a technological item of some sort.

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