Course Introduction

Welcome

Welcome to EDDL 5141 Online Teaching and Learning. This course will give you an opportunity to review and reflect upon the pedagogy of both traditional and new methods of facilitating online learning, ranging from standard classroom blended learning, content management systems to open educational environments using blogs, wikis and other web-based tools. The course will also give you an opportunity to explore the characteristics of and how successful online learning communities are developed.

This introduction is your guide to and preview of what EDDL 5141 is all about, and you should read through it carefully before working through the course.  Also be sure to read the separate topics that provide the course outline, learning outcomes, and a summary of the course assignments and evaluation.

Personal Notebook or Journal

There are a variety of activities that will help you to achieve the learning outcomes and understand the course concepts so you can apply your understanding to your assignments and ultimately your practice. Start a personal notebook. Throughout the course, record your responses to the Activities, and add any comments, questions, observations or ideas that you may have about the material. This notebook can be a traditional hardcopy version of the exercises, or you can create a new document in word processing software and keep your notebook on the computer, or in any online format that suits you.  Either way, try to keep it organized by topics or dates, so that you can easily find your notes when preparing for assignments.

Discussion Topics

A common misconception on the part of many students is that there will be a single important resource or two that will teach the material.  You may mistakenly (though understandably) look to the instructor, to your readings, or to the course module documents to deliver the course content.  Although your instructor is always there for guidance as a faciliator, you should expect to demonstrate self-direction and personal motivation to actively construct your own version of the course content from a multitude of sources, including required and optional readings, your own informal research, sharing of assignment responses, and the experiences, summaries and opinions of other students via the discussion forums. Your goal should be to create a personal learning experience, including tools, resources you have created and shared, resources you have found, resources you have remixed and repurposed, and people in your community and network of practice. We attempt to blend our separate bodies of knowledge and thus create a collective body of knowledge and skills.

Many of the activities involve group discussion through blog posts. Although these postings may  be awarded only a relatively small percentage of your final mark (or in some courses no percentage at all), they are a vital part of the learning process. They will focus your learning and provide you with an opportunity to share ideas, knowledge, and experiences with your fellow course participants.  Without a community, the course has little to offer, and the discussion forum, along with email and other communication tools, form the infrastructure to house that community. As you engage in the discussions in this course, think about how this may contribute to creating a learning community. Use the following discussion guide as a place to start developing your first posting.

Blogging and Discussion Guidelines

Why do we introduce blogging and discussions into an online course?  Without the walls and group dynamics of a traditional classroom, these dialogues become the classroom.  It is important to establish rules and guidelines around these discussions to ensure that all participants feel welcome and comfortable.

Here are some suggested guidelines to help establish good communication in the course.

  • Post as early as possible.  This will get the discussion going and will help the conversation flow.  At the same time, do not be offended if fellow learners do not post back right away; commitments other than school often interfere with best intentions.
  • Remember that communication in cyberspace lacks the visual and nonverbal cues that we are used to in traditional f2f classrooms.  Make sure you consider all possible meanings of a text message, and ask for clarification if you are unsure of the intent of the message.  Flaming, which can be described as sending or posting any inflammatory or confrontational exchanges via technology, can lead to broken trust and a complete communication breakdown. Inappropriate content will be removed from the course website by the instructor.
  • Use emoticons (such as smiley faces) or other contextual clues to help clarify your message and limit misinterpretation.
  • Keep your postings relatively short for ease of reading ( approximately 400 words).  Paragraphs should be four to six sentences long, and should be spell checked, properly capitalized and punctuated.
  • Let your team members or cohort know if you are going to be absent from the discussion for any length of time.
  • Remember to be respectful of everyone’s ideas.  In order to create a similar space to that of a classroom, everyone needs to feel welcomed and valued.  The discussion area should be a safe place to create collective knowledge and to explore the course topics in greater depth.
  • Ensure that you are responding to at least two other community members for each activity, as the sharing of ideas and perspectives is likely to be the most rewarding experience in the course.

Writing Blog Posts

Blogs are relatively new formats in terms of demonstrating and sharing academic course work.  EDDL 5141 is a graduate level course where much of the discourse is written.  Over the course of the next 12 weeks you will access, read and write from many different sources to build your knowledge and skills.

We encourage you to think critically when reading.  Determine if the sources are academically sound (peer reviewed, backed by research…). For example, Wikipedia is a wealth of collaboratively generated input on topics, but the sources are not always backed up by sound research practice. Peer reviewed online journal sources are more reliable sources to use. Read widely and consider how viewpoints differ or where agreement or debate exists in terms of your topic. This is the analysis aspect of academic writing.

Your blog posts will not only extend your own learning but extend your insights on a topic or focus to others. When quoting from a source, choosing a sentence or two (as opposed to a paragraph) to quote (with quotation marks) would be appropriate. You should meaningfully use that quote to support your writing and build upon the thesis of your blog post topic thus demonstrating your understanding of the readings. This is the synthesis within in your written work.

To credit the source, you would embed a link noting a citation to help readers of your blog post know what sources you have used to develop your post.  At the end of your post you would create a reference list of resources used to help others read further. We do not ask for formal APA formatting in weekly blog posts, but we do ask that assignments submitted follow APA format. There are many online APA guides available to guide your writing and TRU Library provides online services and guides.

A suggestion for further reading:

http://thoughtcapital.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/how-to-write-an-academic-blog/

Implications of the Open-course Format

This course will exist, at least partially, in an open format. That means that much of the content we put up and the discussions we have will be viewable by the public. This default orientation reflects the simplest and most useful way for instructors to distribute content, as well as the most challenging and potentially rewarding way for students to engage online. We’ll start from the premise that what we do here is open and use this as a point from which to discuss the opportunities and risks associated with this choice if it were engaged in in the context of your own students’ experiences.

Things to Know About  the Web Tools We Will Use

Each of the tools we encounter has a purpose that can range from private entertainment to public resource. We will be creating accounts and putting up content on some of these services. Some of it will be set as private, but some will be open to the wider public. If you haven’t done so already, you should consider taking stock of your online presence and the ways in which you present your professional and public face on the internet. You should keep in mind that while most of these tools maintain fairly rigorous security standards and provide avenues for keeping your content private, they are hosted in various jurisdictions (mostly in the United States), and each has their own laws regarding the provision of data to their respective governments.

Course Tags

As you work your way through EDDL 514, you will likely be creating course-related artifacts or resources on web-based sites such as YouTube or Slideshare. Please tag these with eddl5141. Use the eddl5141 tag for anything you have created on other sites that allow tagging of resources. When you find resources related to the topics in EDDL 5141 that you want to bookmark on a site like Delicious or Diigo, tag those resources with eddl5141res. Tagging resources in this way will associate the resources with EDDL 5141 and make them easier to find and aggregate.

Library Service

In this course, you will be directed to find online resources, so you may want to access the TRU Library’s article databases. Familiarizing yourself with the various online resources available from the TRU Library at the start of the course will make it easier for you to access and find course resources as needed.

If you have any questions regarding the resources or the services provided by the library, or if you would like some guidance on how to locate information or research more effectively, please contact the TRU Library’s Distance, Regional and Open Learning (DROL) Library Services at http://www.tru.ca/library/distance.html. The library will help you to locate the most relevant search tools and to refine your research techniques to get the most out of your searches. You can access the library using the “Library” link on the left-hand side of your course homepage or directly via the website: http://www.tru.ca/library/distance.html. You can ask for help via online chat, email, Facebook, or phone. You can also try to answer your own questions by reviewing the TRU Library’s “Research at a Distance Guide”.

TRU IT Service Desk

If you experience difficulties accessing the course blogs, Blackboard site or other TRU-hosted technologies you should contact the TRU IT Service Desk. If you have a question about how to do something in your WordPress blog please direct those questions to your instructor, who will either point you to the solution or forward your concern to the service desk as appropriate.

  • Email ITServiceDesk@tru.ca
  • Phone 1.888.852.8533 (toll-free in Canada) or 250.852.6800 (Kamloops and International)
  • IT Service Desk hours are 8 am to 8 pm Pacific Time.
  • In addition, between September and April, voicemail and email to the IT Service Desk will be checked on weekdays between 8 am and 4 pm.

Where to Go if You Can’t Get Back to This Blog

This course uses the WordPress blogging platform which is a reliable, open-source tool used by thousands of educational institutions. In the unlikely event that you cannot get to the blog (either your own or the main course blog), you should go to the course Blackboard shell. If this is not possible, email your instructors for help .

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