- In your blog share some of your reflections of what you have learned this week.
One of the things I have learned this week relates to team building in online settings. It is a tricky situation when you have to put together teams of students who have not met before in a on-site course. But to do it in an online class, it is even more difficult. My take on this is that, even though many instructors practice this, the students have to figure out themselves how to pair up, the instructor only needs to create the right environment. Maybe the instructor leaves breadcrumbs that students could follow. One way I envision doing this is by first start the course with a simple discussion introduction or a simple poll that could give details about what the students are interested about in the course. Then I would set up forums for them to come and start discussing topics that interest them. The first post would come from me and then I will let them know I am paying attention to their conversation so that they know I am present and interested in what they have to say. I will post encouraging comments to them so that they can keep discussing possible projects together.
- In particular, reflect on your experiences of two different facilitation styles or strategies for promoting critical thinking. What are the implications for the facilitation of online courses?
In my experience in the classroom and the online environment the use of case studies and questions with not a definite answer can be effective as promoters of meaningful thinking. The case studies I have designed included images and in some cases, video. Then I would ask questions about how they use the data provided to come up with a solution that they can justify and defend. For the open-ended questions I would clarify that there is no right or wrong answer but their thinking process will be evaluated. In all these cases, I would establish in the guidelines that the best way to approach their response is by providing external resources they used for their research (I think there needs to be a clarification that I don’t expect them to complete the activities in one sit). These activities can be implemented in the classroom in a faster manner because the students and the instructor are in one place and the communication includes body language, voice tones, verbal cues, etc. In the online environment this is not possible, so the guidelines have to be designed carefully so that no loose ends will create confusion and discouragement on the students. The instructor has to make sure that the students feel that he/she is present in the forums, from time to time by making comments or by asking questions to the students. The students need to know that the instructor cares about their work and values their ideas express in the discussions.