How have my views of effective practice changed now that I have read more about teaching presence?
The first piece of teaching presence: design of the course, is at least initially out of my hands. I hope to be able to add some aspects to it but as I haven’t seen the course yet, am unsure how that works.
However in the second part of teaching presence; facilitating discourse. I can see more clearly how important facilitating discourse is and liken it to facilitating group process but in written form. It gives me a template to work from.
Anderson et al. (2001) make a strong case for the last piece in teaching presence; direct instruction. Any reservations I had about inserting myself and my expertise into the conversation were relieved. I liked the notion of introducing personal experience, links etc to help further learners’ knowledge. It was a good reminder about the importance of scaffolding.
Using these TRU On-line teaching courses as examples of effective practice show some great practice as well as some shortcomings. On the good practice side, the course design is excellent. As for facilitating discourse, there are requests to read other’s posts and to comment but there is no facilitation by the moderator. If one is off track, there is no instructor feedback. (I understand that this is the nature of this type of course).
Direct instruction is modelled by providing links to relevant material and the course is scaffolded by building on previous instruction. However the personal experience and feedback from the instructor are missing.
Including moderator facilitation of posts and direct instructor feedback would have made these courses even more effective.
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 make 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.
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 transferable 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.