Hi my name is Vanessa O’Connor and this is my second semester teaching at MiraCosta. I currently teach ENG 100 and ENG 50. Although I have never taught composition online I have taught American Literature online and that was a very interesting experience that helped me to dabble a little in online quiz building and discussion boards. I also teach all of my English 100 and 50 classes as partial hybrids where most of the resources are housed on canvas as well as quizzes, text book materials etc.
“If you have your why for life, then you can get along with almost any how.”I love that Warnock starts out with this quote from Nietzsche. In chapter one he encourages us to develop our own online teaching persona and I realized that my online persona is not much different from my onsite persona. My “why” is to promote personal development through Mastery and Emotional Intelligence. I always start with my “why” and I allow the climate of my class to determine my “how”. On the first day of class I always tell my students that I teach what I most want to learn. I let them know that although I am their teacher, I am a learner first and I am excited to learn and grow with them. I always share what I am working on (right now it’s my book) and I show them all the marked up pages from my editor and expose them to the fact that writing is a process and a collaborative effort. Like Warnock I would also create an introduction discussion but I would use video rather than writing. By creating an introductory video I can communicate the same message I try to send on the first day of in-person class. Video also allows the students to see me and experience me as a person first before they begin their online interactions with me. I will also ask each class member to make a camera phone video introducing themselves and their reason for taking the class. I think that this will be a good way to pull back the veil of the computer screen and get to know each other as people and not just as words on a page. I would also like to do some live zoom calls but I am not sure how I would design that since there is not set time for an online class meeting.
In his introduction Warnock posits that the online teaching space is perfect for writing since so much of the communication for the class is done through writing. (xi) Although it can seem difficult to make the transition from in person teaching to online teaching the fact that students are constantly communicating through writing in an online class makes me hopeful because that in itself is an exercise that enhances practice.
My framework for teaching online or what I want my online class to look like:
Environment – My purpose for taking this online teaching class is to learn how to mimic my online class for the social environments of the world by incorporating what it takes to succeed in the real world outside of the college matriculation standards. My intention is to create environments that evolve emotional intelligence as well as intellect. I want to create an environment where students are constantly practicing and applying concepts with each other and in their world. As I design my online environment I plan to take Warnock’s advice that “you can approach teaching online more confidently if you view it as not being that different from teaching onsite. (xiii)
Collaboration – I have often heard that promoting interaction is one of the difficult tasks with online classes since the students never really get to see each other. I like the student centered approaches Warnock shares in the introduction and I am excited to explore ideas on how to create more of an in class feel with an online class. The online environment is more than fancy graphics, videos or detailed modules. It is a space to practice and apply the concepts with each other. I love how Canvas gives students the ability to collaborate through online peer reviews, group work and shared documents. I am happy to be living in the Internet age that has taken learning outside of the classroom and has made it even easier to collaborate remotely. Most of my in-class students use remote tools like Google docs to collaborate with each other.
Self-Awareness – I know that online teaching relies heavily on public sharing in discussion boards but I also believe in private writing. I want to explore ways in which I can encourage students to practice private writing to evolve their own self-awareness rather than having to always share with the public on a discussion board. I believe that as we deepen our self-understanding we increase our ability to succeed. Through journaling and personal writing we get the opportunity to explore our inner world and uncover our “why”. I do not think that this writing should be subject to the review of others as is usually necessary in an online course. When I teach in class I can instruct my students to journal and I can walk around and make sure that they are journaling without having to read their writing. I will not have that ability to keep them accountable in an online class so I would like to explore ideas on how to keep the emphasis on personal writing and journaling in an online class.
Sharing – I would like to explore ideas on how to create an online environment with resources so that the students can share their work outside of the classroom and be exposed to publication opportunities if they so desire. I really like the blog posting idea that Jim shares in the intro video. This gives students an opportunity to put their ideas out into the world and use them for things outside of class like scholarships and publications etc. I would really appreciate any other suggestions of resources and links I can share with my students that will give them opportunities to share their work with the world. My class room environment is built on the idea that writing is meant to be shared and I want to give them the opportunities to use their writing for more than just a grade. I try to encourage students to share their work and also help them to find publication for notable pieces.
Customization – The issue that I usually find with online courses is that it is usually a one size fits all approach however, every group of students is different and even though we teach the fundamentals they might need a different approach from us. Therefore as I design my online class I will be cognizant of leaving room for adapting to each group of students as well as evolution and constant growth.
Mastery – I always ask students to submit a two-sided folder with all of their pre-writing, writing and editing documents. This is easy in person because they are able to hand it to me but I am interested to explore ideas of how to do this online. I seek to develop a process oriented online course that rewards those who practice as well as rewarding the end results. Therefore I want to create games and interactive activities that encourage process sharing and creative ideas… if you have ideas of games, apps and software that can integrate with Canvas please share.
I want the online class to closely reflect my in class structure by encouraging practice and process activities, therefore helping students to understand that if you place more emphasis on mastering the process rather than the end result it is almost guaranteed that your end result will be great and you will be able to hit your mark not just once but over and over again. As I encourage mastery in this way I am encouraging them to understand that the writing process is a metaphor for success in any area of life because the process rather than the end result is the true treasure.
Here’s a sample of what I am doing in Canvas