The Power of Synchronous Online Learning
I have been an online faculty for close to a decade. For the past few years, my online teaching has been 100% online. I believe in the power of the teacher-student relationship for facilitating learning. This, admittedly, has become more difficult to achieve in my online teaching. The majority of the instructional tools are asynchronous – discussion boards, blog posts, assignment dropboxes. I have developed relationships through dialogue with students but not deeply enough for my liking.
Beginning Fall, 2011, I became one of several Cohort Facilitators for the Western Governors University Demonstration Teaching. As part of my responsibilities, I meet with students one evening a week for 12 weeks while they are doing their demonstration teaching. We meet in Adobe Connect. I enable participant webcams so those who want can turn on their webcams. We have anywhere from 2 to 12 (all) students on webcam during our sessions. Each student gets the opportunity to respond to weekly prompts and to discuss successes/issues with their demonstration teaching.
Tonight was our last session. As was true for the previous two semesters, I am very sad to see it end. We have become a community of co-teachers and co-learners. Students in the cohort have also expressed sadness in its conclusion. This does not occur in online courses that utilizes only asynchronous tools.
I feel that we’ve know each other forever. It is so great to know we are not alone in this. I never imagined how much fun it would be.
It’s been like an unexpected treat. I learned so much every single week. To hear others experiences has helped tremendously.
I love coming to cohort every week – I wanted to be here every week. It’s been so helpful. The group has been so supportive for me.
Being part of this cohort has taught me how many right answers there are.
It was nice to know that we can ask questions and get clarifications each week, even when I just wanted to take a nap instead of going to class :).
It made me feel more connected than anything else in my online education experience. It made me feel more normal.
It has been nice to see everyone on webcam – it was great just to see everyone.
Reflections via a Wallwisher