Unit 1: Framework for Teaching On-Line
Unit 1: Framework for Teaching On-Line avatar

(I’m reposting the first week into the blog (rather than the feed) as I was not able to access the blog until today!) 

Unit 1: Framework for Teaching On-Line

Hello Everyone,

About Me: I am delighted to be part of the Writing with Machines group and look forward to our exploration of effective on-line teaching tools and strategies. So, who am I? Well, I was born in Switzerland, moved to California when I was ten, graduated from USCS (go banana slugs!) with a degree in political science and moved back to Europe to work for a multinational electronics corporation. After five years, I moved back to the US and worked as a VP for a non-profit educational science center for many years. I then decided to change things up a bit and got my M.S. in TESOL from CSUF. For the last few years I’ve been teaching credit and non-credit ESL instructor at the community college level, at Intensive English Programs, Business English workshops, and as a world language educator, at the middle school level, for beginning and intermediate German.

As of yet I have not taught an exclusively on-line class, but rather a hybrid model. I just recently migrated to using Canvas, but have used other platforms including Google Classroom.

Technology and me: For the most part, I love technology however; as I was born prior birth of the World Wide Web I would be defined as a ‘digital immigrant’ as compared to what Prensky (2001) refers to as digital natives (those who have not known a time without the internet). Yes, as a child I still went outside to play in the sun!

In particular, I truly enjoy the creative and artistic aspects of technology; I’ve worked as a graphic designer and am very familiar with all of the Adobe Creative Suite products. I enjoy building web sites, editing film and video/sound projects and digital photography. I’ve even taught classes in Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design and Premiere. In the past few years I have been interested in elements of gamification, specifically those that provide opportunities for students to engage with the content in a variety of ways. One of these issues, also addressed by Warnock, is

Goals for my soon-to-be online course:

Having a technology background I thought I would love taking on-line classes. Although I’ve had a few that were good, I would say the majority of them fell short in a number of ways. Naturally, I will try to learn from those negative elements in efforts to build on them and avoid making the same mistakes that left me feeling less that excited about the class. These included:

  1. The Feedback Loop: I completed an online World Language Education teaching class (with lots of writing), and although the content was interesting, we waited and waited for instructor feedback on assignments. In one instance, students began to communicate with each other over the lack of feedback, asking each other if anyone had heard from the teacher. Turns out in this particular instance, the teacher was traveling and had not been “near wifi”. Then all at once we got our graded materials back with a one sentence of constructive feedback.In the online/hybrid classes that I teach, I try to respond to students on a regular basis (within 24h) however, much is still done in student conferences. I am looking forward to learning more about the range of tools available to us to respond beyond message boards, word/pdf editing tools and emails.
  2. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning: In the introduction, Warnock speaks of the “humanistic potential” of online writing courses by providing access to individuals who might be challenged to otherwise partake in a course. I fully support this notion of online teaching, however, I am looking forward to learning strategies of how we might address different learning styles in an OWcourse. In the regular classroom, I can easily change direction in the midst of a lesson. I can adjust content according to Gardner’s theory of multiplies intelligences and allow students to complete tasks using different skill sets, i.e. kinesthetic, logical mathematical, interpersonal, etc. I look forward to learning how all of you approach this online to allow for alternative learning styles, “teachable moments”, or inserting content to bolster student success based on the needs of the particular students.
  3. Content Presentation: As a web designer, this is naturally something I am very interested in. I’ve seen many online classes that feature the “I’ve placed everything I could possibly think of on this page to help you succeed” approach. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced that this only has helped students to get lost in a labyrinth of not-so-helpful information. In Curry’s video clip he presented a sample site (ENGL 100) featuring graphics, key access points to guide learners to essential information, and negative space (white space). I look forward learning more about how the principles of visual hierarchy of information (Hick’s law/Fitt’s law) will be viewed by our authors in terms of online class content presentations, and then hopefully applying it to my site.

Best regards,

Bentley

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