Discussion about engaging students, peer reviews and trying to finish my course…

This week has been very overwhelming, I had to finish a lot of things, my internship at SLN, leave USA and go back home. It is very exciting to go home anyway!

It has been very useful to review my classmates courses and I wish they were able to review my course but I think it will be difficult for them. I am very sad anyone in this course doesn’t speak Spanish, I think it would be very useful to have their feedback.

I like very much to learn something about my classmates disciplines, but specially the variety of perspectives about designing the course and teaching online, they are all very interesting and I learned a lot from your courses.

I love the organization of Joy’s course, how the instructions were very precise and to the point, I can say they will never get lost and would like to have the same in my course but it is so difficult for me because I am a mess sometimes. The other thing that I loved in this course is the variety of uses of the technology for different purposes, how it can make you so close to the students only by making a video with your voice or you cartoon. And even better, how Shoubang sounds so familiar and close to the students in the welcome document without anything fancy technology, only text, but it seems so easy to find him in there and so friendly.

I loved, and I will copy the idea of Sue of putting some of the community forums in the front of the course, so it will be very accessible for everybody. I think I will put the community interaction forums more visible than how it is now in my course.

Also, reviewing the courses I realized that I haven’t made any collaborative activity in my course, so I now made one, and it arises from your ideas. I hope I will be able to complete my course this last week, and I hope somebody can understand something in my course so I can get some feedback from you.

I have watch some of the posts in Seesmic and I think it is very interesting. I would like to participate but I haven’t finished listening to everybody in the discussion so I need to have a little more time to post something.

About the discussion I would like to say that I agree too that classes are not made for entertain students and it is very easy to be confused as an instructor, because sometimes we think the only way of engaging students is entertaining them. That is not true, they have to be engaged because they are interested in the topic we are teaching, and the ideas, as Alex said, are engaging if you give them the chance to explore them, interact with them, dig deeply into them and discuss with other people about them. This way I think they can find some applications for them in their own lives.

But what is critical here to have very clear as instructors is that for the instructor is impossible to discover every student interest, they are all very different between each other so they have very different interests, so they have to discover how to engage by themselves- with their instructor’s help facilitating and giving them opportunities- but they have find out what is relevant for them in each topic, in each discussion and in every activity.

In order to finish my course I need to work very hard next week, I am very excited about my course, I don’t know why but I love it! I can review it forever, and I always have new ideas, and I love that. I think that this work is very creative, and as I remember in one of the first reading of this course (“10 ways online…”), some faculty’s opinions is that they feel younger because they feel the same feeling that they felt when they were teaching for the first time, and I think that they feel rewarded by their creation,  their new product.

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How social presence supports learning process; and teaching presence in delivering your course

I liked very much the way Garrison, in Online Community of Inquiry Review, analyzes the social presence and cognitive presence evolution through course progress, how they change when the group became more cohesive, from personal to purposeful relationships, and from exploration to resolution (being the last one very difficult).

I think it is important to understand the implication of the conditions of the communication for quality interaction in order to achieve the desired learning outcomes, and understand how interaction must be defined in academic terms, because social presence is not independent from cognitive and teaching presence, as he said in the article. It has been shown that sense of community is highly associated with perceived learning (Shea, 2006). The environment must give the students support to establish communication and build social bonds, but the most important thing is that they feel secure to communicate openly and have common purposes. We have to consider that create relationships takes time, so you need to communicate openly first.

In this course, after knowing each others better we started to feel more part of the community and be more free to publish other kinds of comments, all related to the topic but sometimes more social friendly than only knowledge. When you are already part of the community you can interact differently, as Swan reported in his study, I think he is right in the fact that with time social presence become transparent.

I learned that the question, and the role of the teacher are very important in order to be able to change from exploration to resolution. The common objective has to be clear and it has to be reachable through collaborative work. So, the question has to be established to reach that collaborative and common goal and the instructor has to facilitate the discussion in order to achieve it effectively, because progress requires direction to ensure that the community moves to the resolution.

The other thing I learned from teaching presence, in the same article, is that interaction and discourse plays a key role in higher-order learning but not without structure (design) and leadership (facilitation and direction). So, when I think in my course I think how are they going to develop this two very important tasks (and skills). The first I think it is more easy, but  the second will take more time to be developed in some instructors, I think.

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