Tuesday, October 8, 2013

May I ask a question?

What I have my learners engaged with the material and thinking critically about what it means to them and their subject area? Now the kicker is if you can do it in a regular classroom you are one of the select few but to do this all online that is no small task.

As I think about my experiences in the online education world, as I have been teaching online for seven years and in the past four years I have taken a few online courses, I cannot say I have ever been as engaged as I have been as in this MOOC. So what is the difference?

I find the newsletter very impressive and it comes to me (I don't have to go looking for the website or the material - oh who knew it would keep me on track.).  There are synchronous sessions - which are linked to a world clock that actually works (well I did have one time wrong) its just been too bad that I couldn't make all the sessions since I find them rewarding - people actually talking about this online world and even more astonishing is that they are enthused and excited to be involved (most of the people I engage with see it as a necessary evil). The links to the reference material - yes I am a person who actually wants to read the original just to be sure I understood it all.

This week I went through the course material - which really I have done every week since I find the compilation of materials a definite resource.  I participated in Debbie Morrison's Blackboard discussion and I basically listened to Linda Elder lecture on critical thinking (I had hoped to listen to her presentation again this week thinking I must have missed something.) I watched the weekly wrap-up and wished I could ask a few questions.  I realize that there was a minimum of people present at Greg's session but I could really have used the examples.  I am always asking my students to provide examples as in my mind (and I think in theirs) it helps to clarify my thinking am I getting the message that they are sending.  Personally I wish Greg had put in a number of examples for each of the points since as I am watching the recording I have no way of knowing if I am really getting the point.

Synchronous online is more appealing and engaging to asynchronous online in my experience and this course also underscores it for me.  If I had participated in the roundup I would have been able to ask my questions.  If this course was in a LMS I would have posted my questions in the forum under the discussion and hoped that I would get a response sometime down the road.  My other thought is that with synchronous session you are more likely to be able to capture some of the interests of your students - I am not sure how that actually translates in the asynchronous world that I inhabit.

This brings me to another realization is that the synchronous part of this course is what pushes me forward to do the readings and search through my mind for the other material that I have sifted through.

Questions.  I was more than happy to see the material on questions as I spend part of last year trying to get myself asking solid questions or at least questions that were divergent.  The book Thinking through quality questioning, although written for a different audience provides ample material to give you some pause to think - what kind of questions am I asking. Lots more work to do in this area as people need to feel that they can respond.  Perhaps we are so socialized to answer convergent questions that anything else makes us leary?  Going back to the weekly round-up Greg put up a slide on "Questioning Behavior . . . " I didn't get the information down (another I have to go back) but I did get the nugget are you giving verbal rewards (Great question!).  I found John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teacher's last year and although not for this audience he does a good job on how to give feedback - The article that actually gave me the nuggets to go forward was Educational Leadership: Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

All week I kept thinking I am missing something major here - but what is it?  I have been ruminating on how to figure out what is a realistic workload for instructors taking a blended course.  I would definitely appreciate a discussion on workload - we have talked about the discussion board however I might have missed what is the standard or is there a standard - one discussion posting per week or 1 per two weeks or is there any guidance. Lots more questions hopefully they are of a higher order ;-).


  1. Hi,
    I have a big question. How do you plan to change the way you ask questions when you teach online by:
    1. keeping the discussion focused,
    2. keeping the discussion intellectually responsible,
    3. stimulating the discussion with probing questions,
    4. periodically summarize what has and what has not been dealt with and/or resolved, and by
    5 drawing as many students as possible into the discussion?


  2. I don’t think there is a standard regarding the number of postings required for a discussion assignment. It should reflect the objectives of the course, however. I also think that there can be too many requirements for posts, and students may become overwhelmed with having to respond intellectually to a question, and then respond to a classmate, and then respond to summarize all the posts read. Students could foreseeably spend so much time posting discussions that they give little effort to other assignments. Some instructors weigh discussion posts differently, and this can also confuse students especially if the requirements of the postings include citations of peer reviewed articles. I think that guided discussion posts are important to include in an online class design, but I also think that instructors should design the posting requirements to match the weight they will place on the student’s overall grade.