the journey so far

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Posted by Jenna Ream |

It is interesting when what starts as a plea for help, the pursuit of innovation, an understanding that there has got to be a better way, turns into the very conversation you were dreaming of and hoping for. When Brian and I started talking about all this, our key conversation was what was important for online learning, how teaching in an online classroom is different from face to face but can be- needs to be- more than distance learning. Reading articles, writing papers, threaded discussions- while good for some things, we knew there was more. Brian turned me on to Twitter, which provided access to people thinking about teaching and learning online, and I was able to see what others were doing and crave the conversation that would help me build on my face to face teaching and learn the tools I needed to use to provide the rich, interactive environment online that is the cornerstone for my success in person. It soon became apparent that we were missing a potential, valuable resource right here at home. Twitter brought us to others connected via social networking channels, but what about right here at our own University? What about people teaching online that we did NOT connect with on Twitter? What about expanding the Twitter conversations to live? To blog? There is something important and powerful about 140 characters, the maximum length of a tweet (the noun referring to a post on Twitter), but some things need more, need deeper exploration and further conversation. Was there a way to connect and converse that would build to expand the benefits we had found so far that had already enriched my classes? I was learning so much from the chance to use different tools, try different things... would it benefit me, as well as others to to connect and work as faculty to together explore and create better online pedagogy? It soon became exceedingly clear that expansion was where we needed to go.

This is where the FLC comes in for me. This is the place where I can talk about what I have been thinking about and trying in my classes. I now blog. I tweet (the verb form= to twitter). I run live chats in my online classes. I use Connect to facilitate student presentations. We use Google docs for some things, threaded discussion for others. We view videos and webcasts. I want to expand to Voicethread. I feel I know so much more than I did, and yet so little to be able to do what I want to do. So I am excited to now to further pursue the interaction and collaboration that will help me better provide the best thinking and learning of the content of my classes and expand the use of online tools to this end. The best part? By our very work here we are exploring a tool I may want to use next in my classes: the group blog! So the learning continues...


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