Update: This week is my week to catch up. I have another course I am going through for PD (I do this to myself all too frequently), so it was tricky the first couple weeks to get a rhythm to get both these courses done. Now I have a plan for completing both courses, and look forward to what will come of it all! The course actually just started week 3, but if I stay on my schedule, it should work out. Wish me luck! Both courses are interesting, and I do not want to flake out and lose what I have done or could get in the coming weeks!
I missed the live webinar this week due to other meetings but watched the recording. There were several great points discussed by the panelists on engaging discussions and interactions, some of which are related to questions and concerns I have heard from our faculty. Now I need a plan to share this with them and our faculty development coordinator.
Questions to Ponder
- Is there value in student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction in all courses regardless of discipline?
- My initial thought on this is to say “Of course!”, But I think it really depends on what the learning outcomes/goals are for the course. Like any other learning opportunity, students will come to each of their courses with a different set of background experiences and prior knowledge. Combine this with varying degrees of motivation and intellect and even an outsider to the world of Education could see there are just too many variables to say for certain if there is always inherent value.
- The above point being stated, I think student-to-instructor interaction is critical. With instructor knowledge of the subject matter and their pedagogical ability to meet students where they are at, no matter what students come in with (other than the required prereqs), they have the opportunity to meet the goals of the course and build their own definition of value in each interaction.
- What role does interaction play in courses in which the emphasis is on declarative knowledge (e.g., introductory “survey” courses at the lower-division undergraduate level) or, similarly, in courses that cultivate procedural knowledge (e.g., technical courses requiring the working of problem sets)?
- What my real-world understanding of the role interaction plays in various course types is limited to the courses and subjects I have taught or ones I have worked with faculty on. That being said, those experiences combined with what I know about student interaction best practices allow me to have at least a starter answer to this question. Learning styles or preferences have to play a part in either an intro course or a technical course. From my experience, the ideal scenario has a course with multiple options for students to complete the objectives and assignments for each course. Of course, it takes time to construct or procure these options but using +1 thinking (doing just ONE more thing-adding one additional type of media or assignment), over time this can be a reality. In our courses at this college, a significant portion of the interactions in some courses would be essential for students. Two examples from this college would be our Nursing or Auto Body Programs. It would be hard to pass someone in any of the related courses if they have not interacted in the lab assignments. Do you want someone drawing blood that has never practiced doing it in a Simulation Lab? Obviously not. Hand over your car to someone who has never painted a car before? Well, sure if you really want to stand out…and not in a good way. Of course, I am joking but I bet you get the idea.
- A somewhat more general (and concise) answer to the role interactions play would be that in either course type, interactions in online forums, with software, group or teamwork, etc. would reinforce the content.As the reading for this week mentioned, whether this is through minimal or guided learning is up to the instructor and often to the type of content.
- As you consider designing a blended learning course, what kinds of interactions can you envision occurring face-to-face, and how might you use the online environment for interactions? What opportunities are there for you to explore different instructional strategies in the blended course than you have in the past?
- For our professional development courses, I can see face to face interactions being especially important for fully online faculty. They are typically not engaging as much with their peers like on campus faculty are, so offering face to face sessions would be one way to provide an opportunity to do so.
- The online environment would be a great mode to offer recorded webinars or asynchronous content for their review at a time convenient for them. Even better would be to offer different times for live webinars to supplement or just give another option for a simulated face to face meeting with their peers.
- I think our department has the ability to meet the needs of faculty in so many ways that hopefully, we can offer something for everyone. Whether that is online, face to face, or a mixture of both. UDL for faculty PD, anyone? 🙂
- What factors might limit the feasibility of robust interaction face-to-face or online?
- Timing – In my world, we all deal with the issue of finding the “right” time to have face to face sessions or online sessions for PD. Faculty have so many other obligations that it is hard (even if they have the desire) to prioritize their own PD.
- Attendance – all too often sessions have low attendance, so the interaction and collaboration opportunities are minimal. Meeting faculty where they are at with what they need for PD has always been tricky.
- Interest – no matter what each person has going on, if the level of interest in the topic is not there, it does not matter when or where the PD is offered.