Happy midway point classmates! I really cannot believe that this semester is already halfway complete. I already feel that we have made some amazing headway in learning about online tools and ways they can enhance our learning. I am looking forward to the final presentations and of course more dialog and learning with you all!
Similar to what Katie shared in her blog post, I feel that prior to taking Alec’s classes I always said that I would not take any online classes. I felt that it would be a lot to keep up with and the idea of working independently really just did not appeal to me. At this point, I assumed all online classes would be similar to working through online modules with no interaction with classmates. This did not appeal to me at all, as I love in class discussions and hearing from and learning alongside my classmates.
Insert my first online class: Welcome to class, there will be synchronized meeting times. Sayyy whattt? I couldn’t at that time imagine how 20 of us could all be online together- live. Let’s just say during the first class I was amazed at how Zoom was such an effective tool for our online class.
Zoom is an amazing video conferencing tool that allows students and teachers to meet online in real time. This tool allows for the flexibility of meeting online for class and not having to leave your house to meet in person. Yet Zoom satisfies the students who need that push for accountability that meeting face to face at a designated time encourages. I have been pleased with being able to take a class away from the university in the comfort of my own home but with a synchronized meeting time that allows me to still interact and have discussions with my classmates. I love the options and features that Zoom provides to students and teachers. The breakout rooms are a great way to encourage small group discussion as sometimes sharing in a large group is beyond peoples comfort zones. I also love the chat feature in Zoom. This allows the students to have a real-time discussion about the points being presented in class. This feature allows students to ask questions and share experiences without having to interrupt the presentation. I feel that this is hugely beneficial to further learning and provide students with real-world examples from their fellow classmates. This is a feature that is not available to students in a face to face classroom environment as it would be extremely disruptive. I feel that Zoom really is the best of both worlds. I feel that if I were to ever tackle teaching via distance, a video conferencing tool like zoom would be a must. This allows the teacher and student to still build a personal relationship where they can discuss topics in real time and not just via email.
Before taking these classes I had very little knowledge of the Google world. I didn’t use my google account really at all. I used the basic google docs and google slides but that was the extent of my Google knowledge. This class has given me the opportunity to explore and use more of the tools that Google provides. The Google Plus Community I feel is one of the most crucial parts in running an online class successfully. Let’s be realistic- the online world can be quite overwhelming for many so the Google Plus Community allows and encourages students to work together and support one another. It is essential in troubleshooting any questions or issues that may arise. I feel that it is so helpful in getting a timely response to any course-related questions you may have. This community also takes the burden off of the instructor in being the knowledge keeper. It is amazing as a teacher to be able to use a tool such as Google Plus to pass the problem-solving questions onto classmates and have students work together to use their knowledge and problem-solving skills to help one another. I feel that the google plus community is a great hub for the class. If at some point in my career I were to teach a higher level class I feel that this would be a tool that I would use and encourage students to use so they could communicate and troubleshoot with their classmates.
Twitter is a great online tool for teachers and students. Many teachers use Twitter to collaborate and learn from other professionals. When you find a topic that you are interested in it’s a great tool to allow you to connect with and follow other educators to get real-world examples of how things can be done in your classroom. Twitter can be overwhelming at times but I am beginning to learn how to sift through to find educators that are relevant and inspiring to what I am currently wanting to focus on and learn about. I find that Twitter is a great place to keep up with trends in news and education. It can be a place to browse to see what is trending and find topics in which you may want to read about and dig deeper into. It is a great place to form relationships with other inspiring educators who can inspire you and motivate you to further your teaching practices. I enjoy following my classmates as they are sharing articles and information that is relevant to further our understanding of our in-class topics.
Blogging is an online tool that allows students to reflect on, document and share their learning journey. Blogging encourages students to read and relate the work of the class to their current teaching practices. I have found blogging to be helpful as it encourages me to take the topics that we have been learning about and really begin to break down and pull apart my current beliefs and practices of teaching and learning. Blogging also encourages students to interact and read about other students perspectives on the weekly topics. I have learned so much more about these topics by reading my classmates’ blogs. It is interesting to read how others have different views or interpretations of topics and how those may challenge your thinking of the topic. This allows for discussion about how your ideas and others ideas may align or differ. I feel that blogs are a great way to encourage students to share and reflect on their learning journey.
I feel that all of these tools together create a great online learning environment. These tools allow students to feel connected to their professor as well as their classmates. I feel that in order to create a climate of sharing and collaboration professors of online courses need to find ways to allow students to connect with one another. I feel like Alec has thoughtfully considered what tools can be used in order to use the flexibility of online classes by allowing us to not have to meet in person but to still feel connected and have opportunities to collaborate, discuss and share our learning. I feel that these tools are very user-friendly and have a large impact on learning. I am excited to see how in the future I could potentially use these tools if my teaching career takes me in this direction.