Building a Sense of Community

New Insights

In reading these articles, it is clear that educators are faced with many challenges as classrooms shift to online platforms. Both curriculum and instructional design developers and instructors are having to keep digital delivery in mind. Without this feature, courses are less flexible and interest-driven. From the student perspective, courses that are up-to-date and open are more worth the money they spend on the classes. The use of e-books and open courseware will save the student money, while ensuring the content they are learning is more suited to the reality they are facing everyday, not ten years ago. Moving forward, there will be a new role for learners as content contributors and decision makers in the development of curriculum.

Trends

The trends in curriculum development and online learning are:
Educators and learners collaborating on course development
Critical thinking and communication skills being maintained as core skills
Choosing who to learn from through collective wisdom rather than being taught by those deemed qualified to teach

To deal with these trends, creating an inclusive and collaborative classroom environment will be key. Even if the institutions cannot support this technological demand, each individual can offer their own contributions and help construct a course that is interest-driven, relevant and motivating. Student-centered learning has always been a principle factor in how I built my classes, lessons and assessments. Taking this a step further by involving students in the decision making process will allow students to take ownership of their learning and inspire change. Education should be a democracy.

Web-Conference

Earlier this month, I had a "required Skype call" with my learning partner. At first, the teenager in me rolled my eyes at the thought of having to arrange this. It's a little funny how we resort to old habit when put in learning situations. Teachers are often the worst students. This negative feeling did not go away until I hit the green phone symbol on my screen and I thought "okay, no turning back now, just get it over with."

When I saw my learning partner on the screen, we both smiled and laughed a little when e learned that we were both feeling the same way. From here, our conversation started flowing and idea sharing began.We spoke for over an hour of about articles highlighting tends in our industries, see links below, She taught me about teleconferencing in medicine - telehealth. Medicine is evolving so quickly, that traditional education setting are no longer appropriate for teaching people the skills they need to keep up. With telehealth medical professionals can learn live.

After discussing articles and trends, we fell into a conversation reflecting on the benefits of this whole process. One disadvantage my partner mentioned was a loss of face-to-face community and feeling connected. Here are my thoughts on this.

 Online courses are great for the convenience of being able to study whenever and wherever. However, there is this sense of isolation. Things can be a bit confusing when you are trying to wrap you head around them. The content can be a bit daunting. With a learning partner, a sense of community can be formed and a bond can be made with someone who is feeling the same way and learning the same things.

Sure, we can use discussion boards and communication tools are readily available to students taking online courses, but they are often underutilized, as stated on the Ashford University blog. I am citing a blog as a reference here even though they are often not considered reputable sources. I figure, since I am writing a blog, I am going to cite a blog.

Our instructor for Foundations in Adult Learning, Karen Brooke, has added a worthwhile learning element to this course. Creating an opportunity for face-to-face interaction allows students to reach out and connect. For this interpersonal and linguistic learner, having a sense of community has made all this difference in my course satisfaction rating.

References

Barseghian, Tina. (2011). Three trends that will shape the future of curriculum. Mindshift. kqed.org

Contact North. A new pedagogy is emerging and online learning is a contributing factor.teachonline.ca

Plotczyk, Lorelei. (2013). A sense of community in online courses.Forward Thinking. Ashford University Blog.

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