Tag Archives: ecourses

Course Reflection: Powerful Learning Practice’s Teaching Online and Blended Learning eCourse

The past ten weeks, I’ve been participating in Powerful Learning Practice’s Teaching Online and Blended Learning eCoursesherylsclass. I had taken this same course a few years ago, but at that point in my life, I wasn’t able to really focus on it. I had just started teaching my first online course, was struggling with the transition from face-to-face 5th graders to online adults and I had a newborn at home, so I felt like I was just keeping my head above water that point. While I followed along and read the resources, I was not activity engaging with other participants or the content.

So when I had the chance to take it again I was really excited. My confidence as an online instructor has grown quite a bit since that first class and I was feeling that it was time to shake things up and make some changes to my courses, so this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.

Now that the class is coming to an end, we were asked to reflect on all that we earned and have changed so far because of this course.

My Ah-Ha’s! 

  • It’s ok to share about yourself. I was always worried about being professional, but I think I was too worried so I wasn’t sharing enough about myself to help build a community. While the participants who took multiple classes with me got to know me, if someone just took one class, I don’t think they got a clear picture of who I was. group-157841_1280
  • The importance of community. While I’ve always known this was important, I didn’t think it was possible to do with two week courses. My thinking has shifted to the idea that I’m going to build in more community building exercises, even if we don’t have the opportunity to build deep relationships, connections will be made.
  • Use a Variety of Media. While I tried to do this in my 5th grade classroom, I fell back on text heavy content with my courses. Even myself as a learner, I never read everything, so I need to keep this in mind when developing my classes.
  • Clarified my Philosophy of Learning. By focusing on how I believe people learn, I’m able to create courses and assignments that support that belief.

Changes I’ve made so far: 

  • I created a visual calendar that shows the whole course, allowing participants to get the “big” picture of assignments and timing of everything. Course Calendars
  • I developed a new syllabus that not only incorporated the assignments and important information, but my goals as a facilitator. I also tried to make it interactive by using Google Docs to include a table of contents to navigate the document and encourage the use of the commenting feature.
  • I added some community building activities to the asynchronous course space.
  • When I needed to address a question that came up after a live meeting, rather then type out a long explanation, I created a video to share my thinking and a new assignment.
  • I added a KWL chart to kick off my course, while this seems so simple, it gave me a clear picture of my participants goals and knowledge. I always asked them to share in a discussion space, but I got a lot more out of them by using the KWL chart. Since I created the chart in Google Docs participants were able to comment on each others which lead to more sharing and conversation.
  • I shared more about my background initially in meetings and was more open in general throughout live meetings and in our course spaces.

My Plans Moving Forward: 

  • Utilize all of the resources and ideas moving forward as I redesign my past courses and create new ones.
  • Focus on community, make an effort to contribute to the larger online educational community by sharing, commenting and reflecting.
  • I want to think about assessment, since I am in the situation where most of the time I do not provide a grade to participants, I want to develop a system of feedback that encourages growth and self-assessment and reflection.

I can’t recommend this class enough to all teachers. It energizes you, encourages you to think deeply about your practice and your goals as a teacher.

Thank you to Sheryl and all of the other participants that made this such a rich learning opportunity. I learned from everyone through the sharing of stories, experiences, resources and all of the questions asked that pushed my thinking a little further.  




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#28daychallenge Day 24..Building an eCourse Community

I’ve missed the past few days of the challenge, for some reason my mind has just been completely blank for ideas. Each idea I have I struggle to really develop, which makes me wonder if it’s something I’m really interested in?

I figured for today, I would just try to write and see what comes…

and, there have been a least five different sentences in this spot that have been deleted….

Going back to read the top paragraph made me ask myself, what has been on my mind lately? I would have to stay it’s building community in online spaces.

In my post a few days ago, I talked about my experiences as an online learner and how much I have come to appreciate the building of communities in online eCourses. One thing that I’ve struggled with is trying to build a community in short two week courses. While some participants jump in and participate in the community, others do not. I know there are a variety of reasons for this, but I really want to make sure I’m doing everything possible to create a safe, welcoming space.

I’ve come to realize that when you have a community you are more likely to be invested in the course, the content and the other participants. We’re more likely to share and participate when we feel that others in the course value our input. This is something very important to me as an online facilitator

Last night, I had the opportunity to discuss this with other educators in the course I’m currently taking, and here are some ideas that came to mind:

  • Really utilizing the asynchronous course space to make connections.
  • Developing collaborative projects.
  • Sharing more about myself

As I think about revamping most of my current classes, here are some of my next steps:

  • Add a collaborative fun activity (something quick that encourages sharing)
  • create a video welcome message, encourage participants to do the same, if they are interested
  • add a recording webinar to introduce participants to many “how-to” aspects of our course
  • adjust the group projects in all of my courses, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute

I’m excited about moving things forward and making some changes. I’ve feel like I’ve changed quite a bit as an online facilitator and learner since I started these courses two years ago, and I really want my courses to reflect this.

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