As I read Warnock’s “Tech Tools and Strategies: Use Only What You Need,” I realized how insane it was to jump into teaching online while being a digital immigrant.
Seriously, who does that?
Warnock chapter makes it seem as if teaching online can be “easy” not the nightmare that I experienced using Blackboard. If technology is not a professor’s first language, of course, he or she will feel like jumping out of a one-story building. Such was my case.
Using several LMS, including Blackboard, Canvas, and Cougar Courses, has allowed me to see that teaching online can be simple as Warnock describes in his table that assesses an online class’s use of technology: Pedagogical Need, Technology for That Purpose, Availability, and Training? Your Learning Curve (20-21).
Several years ago if I had read Warnock’s suggestion “use only what you need” (19) teaching online would have been less intimidating.
From using Blackboard, I learned that it is important for a company to continue to improve its product. The Blackboard team, unfortunately, did not fulfill that demand. Although I am grateful Blackboard was the LMS that I allowed me to experiment with OWcourses. I’m glad I no longer have to use Blackboard. Adios Blackboard—never again.
To begin, Blackboard had awkward glitches. At times, I was unable to delete spaces. Spaces. Other times I could not change a font. A font. I would was waste 30 to 50 minutes fixing a silly little error. Locura.
However, what I do miss from Blackboard is the ability to compile journal entries. I want the online experience to be the same for my online students as it is for my f2f students. In my f2f classes, my students compile their journal entries in a Green Book, where they can witness their growth as critical thinkers and writers.
I also miss the Blackboard Wikis tool. Students could all work on a single document and edit their work and all the information would stay within Blackboard. Canvas did away with Wikis, unfortunately. (I will continue to explore Canvas.)
I was going to give up online teaching, but luckily for me Mt. San Jacinto College transitioned to Canvas. The new LMS allowed me to be patient with technology. The awkward Blackboard glitches went away! (Remember I shared that I had two questions since the beginning of this spring semester. I revisited my 24-Hour Q&A Discussion Forum, and it was really one question. With Blackboard, I had quite a few questions . . . .
Canvas has organized my course design and allowed to me easily access student work when I am inputting grades. (I used to open five windows or more to tally up students grades. I no longer have to waste my time doing that. When I access Canvas’s SpeedGrader, a student’s work shows up in one thread. Marvelous!) Canvas has simplified my life as an online professor.
I was happy to see that my online English class does meet the needs Warnock presents in his table with exception of “Create audiovisual materials for students” (I could use more) and “Facilitate group projects.” I used to have an avitar when I first started teaching online in order to avoid seeing videos of me. Awkward. About group projects, how would I approach group projects online? Help.
I used Cougar Courses to teach WMST 350: Chicana/Latina Feminism at CSUSM, and I just went with it. I figured it out on my own. Once you are familiar with one LMS, you simply look for a similar tool. The only issue I had with Cougar Courses was the Gradebook. The Gradebook. I talked to two math instructors about the issue; they told me it was too complicated and, therefore, did not use CSUSM’s gradebook. Ha!
It’s a locura to teach online if you are a digital immigrant. But it is rewarding and simple if similar to students if we professors “make sure that all participants have the necessary skill level with the communications tools” (qtd. in Warnock).
As I have matured in the online setting, what can I imagine or would like to see in an online class?
I would require students to take a free one unit prerequisite course prior to taking an online class. Over the years, I observed that the students who dropped did not necessary lack the skills that an online class required. Instead, students lacked self-discipline. For this reason, I would require students to learn that they must be self-disciplined, self-motivated online students. If students could practice in an online one-unit class what it feels to work, do homework, and engage in an online class, perhaps, less students would drop.
A prerequisite component of the class would allow students to practice taking a quiz, submitting assignments including an essay, and participating in discussions, among other activities.