Collaborative Communities in eLearning: Module 6 Reflections

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by James Lee

When you read the Time Management Tips for Online Teaching, what were the two most important tips, for your purposes, on the list? In other words, what made you say, “Aha!” and why?

Make time count, if it is something that the student won’t notice, don’t do it. For example, don’t spend more time leaving comments than they spent doing the assignment. If it is something the students can do for EACH OTHER, or for themselves, have them do it. For example, establish a Q & A forum as the first topic area on the discussion board. Require students to post questions in this area of the discussion board BEFORE sending an email to the instructor and encourage students to assist each other. This forum will need to be monitored to provide assistance as needed, though in many cases students will help resolve each others’ issues without instructor assistance.

In my journey and effort to overcome what Grant Wiggins terms (my own) “teacher ego-centrism” I think the advice to make time count to be extremely helpful to me on a few levels.  First, though it is just completely logical that the learner should be investing more in the learning endeavor than the teacher, this view of teaching is very counter to the model of education that I have operated in for nearly 30 years.  In the teacher-world  that I am trying very hard to leave behind, a “good” teacher is always prepared.  A good teacher is always the most knowledgeable in the room.  A good teacher provides the right resources.  A good teacher works harder than everyone in the room. The intent here, can easily be misconstrued. “Increasing the billable hours” of my teaching, isn’t about working less hard, being less prepared, being less knowledgeable, or providing fewer resources as much as it is about increasing the ROI—the return on investment FOR THE LEARNER!

In a Google-centric world where LEARNING HOW TO LEARN is truly one of the keys to making an educational experience worth having, learning how to effectively crowd source solutions to your questions and needs is an empowering life skill.  Learning how to seek out and curate resources that meet the needs of yourself and others in your learning community is an empowering life skill.  As a teacher, it is now less my mission to effectively create specific learning experiences for learners as much as it is my mission to design the environment and develop the community that allows learners to design their learning for themselves.  In this context, my aha, is that this tip gives me permission to let go of the control that I intellectually know I should let go of, but where my emotion is still clinging to the comfort of my past experiences as a teacher that started my career in the 20th century–20 years before the development of the iPhone.

Avoid checking for postings to the discussions or submissions to the drop box several times a day. This is not necessary. Set a schedule such as checking for new discussion postings only once a day. Check the course home page for new posts or submissions at a glance. 

I have personal perfectionist tendencies that can sometimes walk me to the very border of being unhealthily obsessive-compulsive about things that I am passionate about.  I came to realize earlier in the week that the amount of time I was spending on the discussion boards for this course was really far more than was merited given the context of my learning goals.  I DO want to do well here, please don’t get me wrong, but I have a responsibilities to my day job, to my partner and my home life, to my physical health, and to my mental health.  There is a point where I have learned enough and I have shared enough and the healthy and right thing to do is to stop logging in and nurture the other parts of my life that need nurturing as well.  I think the aha for me here was the permission to give myself permission to find balance.  I think that, that was far and away the most important aha of the week for me!


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