Creating On Line Learning Communities

I love the definition of a learning community presented in this article. It is focused on constructivist learning principles …an approach whereby learners are actively involved in creating knowledge often through their own experiences, rather than passively receiving information.  Constructivist teaching encourages students to critically think and reflect on their learning.  It is aimed at creating motivated and independent learners, which is ultimately one of the goals of offering a more self-directed learning experience to our students through blended learning delivery formats.  I think that this is a key mindset in developing a hybrid or on line course because often when we turn the learning over to students it is to get them to read something, make notes, in other words do the things that replace what we do in our lectures.  The article suggests that we engage students at a deeper level so that they in fact create the content and the meaning of it themselves.


As we move to offering a hybrid course in the winter 13 semester, my faculty team has had discussions on how to create a community of learners.  The hybrid we are delivering is a team based course and by its very nature is meant to develop high performing teams who meet their deliverables through positive working relationships.  So creating an environment for interaction is very important.   I like the 3 pillars of a learning community that are suggested in this article; a cognitive presence, a social presence and a teaching presence.  For our course, the Social presence will be very important…”the ability of participants to identify with the group, communicate in a trusting environment, and develop social relationships by way of expressing their individuality”.  But it is the cognitive presence that I found most thought provoking.  What can we do in our course to move the students through the phases suggested in the article so that the learning is less passive?    Some ideas come to mind as I read through the article. I hope that as you read it you find yourself also thinking of ways to develop a community of learners.


Roberta Legacy

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Interesting Read: Let’s Stop Talking about Teaching with Technology, and Start Talking about Teaching

I read this blog this morning and thought it really reflected what we’ve been saying in our meetings.  As we’ve been talking about potential PD that we would like to see or offer, we’ve addressed the fact that PD should go further than just showing what tools are out there.  While it is important to showcase tools that others may not know about, the key is to show how these tools are used to enhance student learning.  Ideally, we would show this in reference to specific courses so faculty leave with something they can use right away.   

I’ve occasionally found myself drawing a blank when asked what technology I use in teaching.  After some thought, I can talk about using screencasting or audio tools but the fact is, I don’t think in terms of a list of technology that I’ve used.  I think of what I’ve done to help students learn.  Students were having trouble navigating WebCT, so I made videos to help them.  Students wanted more verbal instructions in their online course, so I’ve started creating audio clip introductions to each module.  Yes, I found the appropriate technology to do these things, but the technology was just the tool that allowed me to improve the students’ experience.

The author of the blog post, Krista Moroder, really sums this up well,

“The basic work of teaching has not changed. Teachers still collaborate, still communicate, still find and share resources, still manage student behavior, still deliver content, and still assess students.

The difference is that we now have more tools and resources to improve our efficiency.”

I hope we can continue to keep the goal of student success at the forefront as we explore the different tools that can improve the work we do.

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GAS e-Learning Guiding Principles (draft)

Click here

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Now I know a bit better

Another one of the edutopia series, for new teachers like me getting ready to learn the new trend.

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Online learning in a classroom

A very well used blended learning approach for teaching mathematics, with well defined rationale for each activity. There are many more in this series that can be watched in the link below, attached is one example.

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Guiding Principles for the Use of Technology in Learning

I completely agree to Alana’s blog RE: Why Technology Training for Faculty is a waste of time… (not really… but…).Technology for educational purposes is a means and not an end in itself. The effective use of technology is based on understanding its features, functions and possibilities and matching it with the outcomes to be accomplished.
“Ten Guiding Principles for the Use of Technology in Learning” from Contact North articulates the role of technologies in education. It sets out to define learning technologies in an educational context and outlines 10 guiding principles. It invites us to reflect and discuss the interpretation and application of technologies in an educational setting.

What  would make a sound set of criteria for the use of technology in teaching and learning for our school?

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Why Technology Training for Faculty is a waste of time… (not really… but…)

The title of this blog post caught my eye for obvious reasons… via onlinelearninginsights

The title drew me in and the post itself reminded me of the conversations we had at our meeting last week and a theme that has been coming up repeatedly for the past several weeks (or months). Technology of technology sake is not the answer, technology training needs to be accompanied by instruction that shows faculty how to incorporate tools to enhance learning.

The blog post is generally talking about institutional use of the LMS (Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn etc.,) and the research used in the post rings true with our own use of our LMS. Our use of the LMS is mostly for administrative purposes such as posting notes, conducting assessments, submission of assignments etc., We need to focus more on the pedagogical purposes for using the LMS. Administrative use of the LMS is not wrong but we need to take our use of it further… as well as incorporate other technology and tools in more meaningful and purposeful ways.

I like that the shift in focus (in this post and in our conversations)  is not on the how to use it, but the why to use it, and to take it further the why to use it in a much more deliberate and meaningful way

Food for though for moving forward, especially as we evaluate and choose a new institutional LMS. I’ll finish off with this final quote from the post…

“Too often training is ineffective, is one-dimensional focusing on only one aspect, either technical or pedagogical skills. Both are need to support and develop faculty in becoming an instructor that is relevant and skilled in knowing when and how to use ed tech tools appropriately and effectively.”


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