I am learning…

As I am entering this overwheming learning experience, I have been slowly becoming more comfortable with the online learning environment.  What I really like about this course is that the reasons for online courses and benefits are explained explicitly through readings, student blogs and discussion, and videos posted by Alex.  I think the most important point that I have learned thus far is, “Learning design is about creating opportunities for interaction between the instructor and the students and between the students and the other students in the class.”  LD Basics For the Online Classroom-By Alex Pickett.  Alex also stated that studies and research with students and factulty has shown that the highest predictor of satisfaction is the quantity and quality of interaction throughout the class.  Like Alex said in her presentation, “It is really simple.”  When you think about an online learning environment in this way, it is actually really simple.  This week I have become motivated to create a course.  I have learned that interaction is most important, and the more of it that you accommodate for in an online environment, the greater the chances of student success.  And after all…that is the main point…we want student success.  When I began thinking about my own online course, I had decided I wanted student and teacher discussion, but now I feel like I need to incorporate as many chances for student interaction as possible.  I didn’t realize how much student interaction there was in this course until I sat down and actually thought about all the different ways in which I can see what other students think or are doing.  For example, we not only can read each others discussion posts, but we can connect through twitter, blogs, messaging, email, voicethread, tagging websites of interest etc.  In my own course, I would like to have many creative ways in which students can interact and learn from each other. 

While I was working on completing the learning activities for this module, I noticed that I am gaining more confidence already.  On the weekends, I bartend at a small tavern in Albany.  I spend a lot of time talking to people, many of which are professors and staff at UAlbany.  When I started this course, I spent a lot of time telling people how nervous I was, how complicated it all seemed, asking questions because I felt lost, and expressing my amazement with how much work it is to keep up with all the discussions…it felt as though some of them took an exceptional amount of time to read and comprehend.  I expressed my concern with customers about my ability to keep up and understand everything.  I even brought my computer into the bar so that people could help me to make sense of the course.  Lately however, now that people know I am taking an online course and ask me how things are going, I don’t have as many complaints.  These last two weeks I had a major family emergency which consumed a huge amount of time that I normally would be using to work on class.  Although I have not been able to keep up on all of the discussions like I had the previous module, I have noticed that time is a benefit of taking an online course.  I can take part in class at 3 am if I need to.  Now that life should be calming down a bit, I am trying to get back into the swing of things, and figure out what will work best for me.  SImiliar to what we have learned about being the professor in the online environment, you need to be available, yet still have a life, yet stay on top of the course.  Bill gave me some great advice.  Up until now I have been taking two-three days a week, logging on, reading discussions and doing some work.  Bill advised me to take a few hours every day to check in and get involved.  This is something I am going to work on for the next module.  After all, this is a learning experience and I am trying to find out what works best for me.

Reflection for the first 2 weeks

This has been a pretty overwhelming first two weeks.  I am signing up for websites I have never heard of and creating a course in my mind that although I know it is realistic, I wonder if I would ever have the computer know-how to execute.  I finished a computer skills self-assessment today.  I am not completely computer illiterate, yet I felt that the assessment was only asking for pretty basic skills questions-so I do not feel like I learned anything from taking that quiz.  I did learn a lot however, when looked at an online demographics statistics.  The first statistic that jumped out to me was the fact that 62% is female and only approx. 31% are male.  I am trying to figure out why this would be such a large difference, but I cannot even come up with one possibility why this could be.  I guess I was still believing in the girls don’t like science, math, or technology (well no, I do not believe that, but I thought that would at least put an opposite spin on those numbers because I know there are people out there that do!)  The other fact I learned that I would touch on is that New York has far far far more online students than any other state.  I also cannot figure this fact out.  When I saw that NY documented 43,570 I quickly looked at states that I thought would compare with NY such as California (135) Texas (122)…there is such a staggering difference I don’t understand.  If anyone has any thoughts, I would be really interested in hearing them.  I also watched a bone chilling video today entitle, “Did You Know..” which was basically about the rising technology use in the world.  I always thought of the US as the leading country in technology.  I was wrong, China completely blows us away.  The video provided a fact that China has more cell phones than we have people.  I did think it was great to see that US teens are now spending most of their time outside of school on the internet instead of watching tv.  This video did confirm my belief in the fact that we need to change the way we are teaching our students in schools, the video questioned very nicely, “What needs to change about our curriculum when our students have the ability to reach audiences far beyond our classroom walls?”  Students are learning at a rapid pace due to technology and we need to keep up with them and encourage this growth inside the classroom.  The video also said that the fastest growing age group for internet users is between the ages of 2-5 years.  This is just amazing!  I don’t know how anyone can read that statistic and not get the chills!  The last statement that I will touch upon is a quote by Albert Einstein.  He stated, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  We need to change our ways of doing things.  We need to catch up with areas such as China. Our world is changing rapidly, we can do things that have never been done before, and if we want to solve problems…technology is the key.  Our youth is on to something, and we as educators need to support and encourage this impressive change that is happening in the world.   

Welcome to my world…

This is officially my very first blog ever!  I am very excited to begin this new journey.  I feel like I am learning about an entirely new world, one in which I have been so curious about, yet I have been afraid to explore on my own.  I look forward to learning and growing as both a teacher and a student.  I strongly believe that life is one enormous learning experience, the day you stop learning is the day you stop living.  Join me on this new chapter of my life!