otl201 post3 Thoughts on engagement

I think one of the most important concepts that has impacted my thoughts on student engagement and retention during this course is that there is no significant difference between different media when it comes to student achievement.  Yet when students are asked what they prefer, they like video presentation of ideas. This reinforces the notion that we like connection to others whether in person or on-line.

Additionally, as Vaughan et al. suggest, video introductions to the course environment and short tutorials on difficult course concepts or problems really help students. Finally talking about one’s experience with the course material as an instructor and encouraging students to do so also makes a demonstrable difference in student engagement.Best pic of me

As a result, I plan to use a picture of me on every post I make. I will make sure to use a conversational tone, be respectful, positive and encouraging to students.  Also, once I get my course, I will provide a short video introduction to it and provide short tutorials that highlight practical personal application on difficult course concepts.  I also will make sure to respond in a timely fashion to questions and to contact students who haven’t posted asap to show them that I’m present. Asking students what worked and what didn’t work is another way to help increase engagement as well as to improve the course.

As for questions, at this point I haven’t taught the course so it’s tough to be more specific until I actually see how social presence plays out with my students when I’m actually teaching.  I wonder if teaching graduate students makes a difference in terms of engagement in that they may have more desire to learn the material for their career?

A few strategies to help me out are to make sure I look at other’s ideas for increasing social presence ( I’ve got some links on my blog there).  TRU has links to some great material from UBC and UVic too.  I can also ask colleagues such as the online learning coordinator for ideas as well as my faculty mentor.


otl201 post2 Social Presence

After progressing in this online learning course, I see some things I could have done differently in my first post. For example, I could have used a picture of me to personalize the post. When teaching the course, I will Best pic of memake sure to link the ideas in the post to the course specifically and directly. I liked that the tone of the post was conversational and I will continue to use that.

Some of the things I learned about social presence were good reminders about interpersonal interaction in general. Some strategies, I’ll appropriate include: Using a picture of self, calling people by their names, commenting on what they say, being positive, using a conversational tone, and using short tutorials to help learners in those parts of the course that are more difficult.

otl201 post 1 A bit about me…


Who am I? A brief bio

I’m a psychologist, a family member, a friend and someone who is always interested in learning more about people and how they (and I) operate in the world.





I love travelling and take every opportunity to go and see new places. This summer I was in Hong Kong and Korea. One of my favourite places is Italy, see the picture of Tuscany here; the light is fantastic!


otl201 Post 4 Learning Activities Portfolio

Strategies for effective group work in the Online Class

This link outlines reasons to use groups on-line as well as handy tips for what to include to make them successful. I can see using group activities in my course so learners can collaborate on discussing cases and brainstorm with one another about how to think logically about what needs to happen before an assessment occurs. This fits with my practice as I believe we generally don’t work in a vacuum and need to talk/work with our colleagues to best serve our clients. This activity means learners  use their interpersonal skills.

I plan to use group work in my course and will definitely keep the tips in mind in particular the ones around optimal group size.

otl201 Post 3 Learning Activities Portfolio


This handbook has lots of tips for teaching on-line.  In particular, it notes the importance of timely feedback by the instructor, the importance of tone and using more informal discourse. Additionally, it mentions the possible use of an on-line meeting place called “the virtual conference room” where “students post comments and findings after completing activities related to the course content (umass.edu).” This helps reduce isolation, keeps learners on task and gives instructors insight into what is and isn’t working in the course.

Sounds like a great idea to implement.

otl201 Post 2 Learning Activities Portfolio

Do we need ‘social butterflies’ in Online Learning Communities?

This link gives a good overview of why we need to build social connection in on-line learning communities and gives specific ideas about how to do that. I like the notion of having students and the instructor post a picture or avatar beside their posts.  I intend to do that in my course and will use many of the ideas listed to help build social connection.

otl201Post 1 Learning Activities Portfolio

http://ctcc.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Orientation Activities for the Start of Term.pdf

I’m new to teaching in a 100% on-line learning environment. I currently teach face-face using Blackboard in a hybrid learning environment. This means I need to start from the beginning in some ways.  The orientation activities from St. Cloud take students through class introductions, practicing submitting an assignment to dropbox and a practice quiz on the syllabus. It also discusses course structure and a course video from the instructor. This activity gives me a structured template for how to set things up for student success. I like that it keeps things simple but very friendly for students (and the instructor:)

Once I get my blackboard course, I will set up the activities for students to follow.

otl101 post 2 So what have I learned?

Taking this lesson helped me in a number of ways. Firstly once again I realize how much I still don’t know:) However it became apparent that some of the skills I have in face to face are boy thinking 93559072transferable as principles. The principles of respect, inclusion and connection include important elements of social and cognitive learning principles.

As for gaps between post 1 and now, the Garrison et al. (2004) article emphasized the importance of critical thinking and the components of creativity, problem solving, intuition and insight. I liked that they acknowledged the importance of intuition and insight as well as actively problem solving. It made me really wonder how to better include these elements in a course. The challenges of social presence and engagement became clearer to me.

As for the questions I’d like to explore:

how to best use triggering events to support educational outcomes

how to mobilize the community to talk to and learn from. How well does this work if there are only one or two students at a time?

how does one best assess people’s contributions?

how to encourage a greater frequency of responses for resolution and integration? Maybe application is even harder in on-line but its inclusion seems vital.

As for an example of effective cognitive presence, this course is a good example. We had to think about where we were starting from, engage with new ideas, think about the material, post our ideas for comments and then ponder how to apply what we’ve learned in our real life situations.

otl101 post 1 A beginning

High quality on-line learning environments should be easy to navigate, have understandable instructions and encourage connection to other learners. These qualities are important so that learners feel confident about interacting with the material as well as feeling supported in the process.

One of the things I’ve learned about teaching in the last year is that clear step by step instructions are invaluable in helping learners proceed throught a course successfully.

I’m intrigued to see how the on-line teaching system works in actuality at TRU. I wonder what my blackboard course actually looks like, whether I can make any changes to it and how learners will experience the course.1