The following post reexamines my earlier 3-2-1 post, Initial Thoughts. The three thoughts, two questions, and one metaphor about my previous experiences teaching online in the K to 12 public Distributed Learning school is the same, but emphasized, through my experiences as a facilitator and a learner during four weeks where teams of LRNT 528 students facilitated a week-long course.
(1) Pedagogy versus resources
I previously identified the struggle of balancing pedagogy with reality. If anything, this struggle was exaggerated in my experiences. Unfortunately, my initial reactions have not changed through the facilitation process. This struggle was less evident these past weeks, which perhaps explains why I thoroughly enjoyed the process of being a facilitator and learner these past weeks. This heightens the importance of organizations providing time and support to let teachers teach and students learn. Table 1 compares a few features of the facilitation week versus the reality of my teaching context:
Table 1: Features of 528 Facilitation Week versus Public Distributed Learning School
|Teacher to Student Ratio||1:3||1:200|
|Prep Time to Facilitation Time||4 weeks: 1 week||1 week: 12 weeks|
|Learner Experience with Technology||Expert||Novice|
|Learner Study Skills||Expert||Varied|
|Learner Communication Skills||Expert||Varied|
What is most valuable in this table is that the experience felt rewarding and energizing as a facilitator during this course, as the stress was reduced through the support of a facilitation team and a small number of learners.
(2) So much potential
Originally, I mentioned how I felt inspired by the potential in educational technologies. I feel this more strongly now from witnessing and experiencing the success of various online courses. These facilitation weeks showed purposeful and effective use of technologies. Initially, I referred to a metaphor of building a plane while we fly it, now, I think a better metaphor is a pit stop during a car race. The pit crew can change tires in under 5 seconds. By practicing our skills and tools, we can more effectively and efficiently identify the needs to solve. While it’s not glamorous, innovators, like our MALAT cohort, are the pit crew for educational technologies.
(3) Mutual Learning and Teaching
The partnership between learners and teachers was emphasized again through my experiences in our facilitation weeks. This mutual learning contributed to a perceived sense of satisfaction throughout this process. In a world with internet, cell phones, VR, and endless apps, teachers cannot possibly know everything. Accepting this permits teachers and learners to work as a team to pursue personal interests and to develop core skills. This was evident as our cohort wore the facilitator “hat” and student “hat” simultaneously.
- How can the satisfaction from this experience be duplicated in the context of public DL schools?
- How can online facilitation reach the most disengaged learners?
The see-saw in the image above is a metaphor for my struggle in finding the balance between managing realities versus idealities within the world of educational technologies.