Adventures of a Technology Challenged Online Instructor

Sharing and Teaching (Should) go Hand-in-Hand (Week 22)
Sharing and Teaching (Should) go Hand-in-Hand (Week 22) avatar

This got me thinking…

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I know the above quote is a bit off topic this week, but I couldn’t help ponder it.  Are we sticking to the “same old thing” in the classroom because it’s convenient for us?  Or are we too afraid to try something new for the fear of failure?  Or is it that we just really don’t know what else to do?  I think having a Personal Learning Network can help us get out of the rut of doing the same thing over and over  in the classroom, even if the results aren’t what we want.

 

Something that stood out for me this week was a quote from Dean Shareski’s video:

“If teaching is sharing;  if there is no sharing, there is no education.”

As educators, we love to share our knowledge with others, and that shouldn’t stop in the classroom.  However, although all of the readings and videos we watched showed teachers happily sharing ideas, best practices, and assignments with each other, this isn’t always the case.  Where I teach, over 50% of classes are taught by associate faculty who have no real job security from semester to semester.  These instructors can be apprehensive in sharing their ideas and best practices with others when there is no guarantee of a future teaching position.  It’s almost like they want to keep their ideas to themselves to lesson the competition.  I also wonder if teachers don’t have tenure or if “results based” pay increases become the norm, will we see this willingness to share ideas fade?  It’s something worth questioning, for sure.

Luckily, I am in a department where all associate faculty are happy to share ideas with each other.  In fact, a few of us make it a point to get together at the end of each semester and talk about what worked, and what didn’t in our classrooms.  But, beside that (and this POT Cert course), I really haven’t developed a Personal Learning Network – and I think that has hindered my growth as an educator.

So, what am I going to do?  Well, first, I think I’m going to check out Pinterest in more detail.  Sure, I use it to Pinterest to pin favorite recipes and home decor ideas, but I haven’t used it for education yet.  I see many of my friends who are elementary school teachers “pinning” lots of great ideas.

Twitter:  Back at the beginning of this course we were asked to explore Twitter and I just didn’t like it.  But, after listening to Alec Couros, I think I need to revist this program and give it another shot.

Facebook:  I’ve said a few times how I’m interested in starting to use Facebook in my classes, and I still am going to attempt it this Fall.  I guess this wouldn’t necessarily fall into my own Personal Learning Network, but it would allow me to connect with students where they already are and allow them to connect with each other on a difference level as well.  “The medium is the message”, right?

Something else that got me thinking was the idea that online students “don’t want” that face to face interaction – that’s why they are taking the course online.  I really did believe that, and maybe a few students do feel that way.  However, as I’ve gone through this course (this week in particular) I began to think that maybe the online student is one who, due to circumstance, cannot make it to a face to face class, but is still craving those connections with others.  I need to be the facilitator who can allow those meaningful connections in an online environment, and I need others who have done it to guide me there in my Personal Learning Network.

 

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