In my opinion, one of the advantages of an online course is that there are many possibilities for both asynchronous and synchronous feedback between the participants of the course, as well as between the teachers and the students. Considering that students can join the course from a distance as well, one student in the course could potentially receive feedback from peers from all over the world, in addition to feedback from the teachers. I believe that engaging in discussions with peers and teachers may be a tremendous motivation for the students.
But how does the teacher create an online course that ensures the utilization of this feedback potential? It is probably impossible to give a complete answer to this question, and certainly not in the scope of this blog post.
At this moment I will focus on highlighting an idea from one of my terrific colleagues in PBL group 9, Fran Marquez. He introduced me to the concept «collaborative blogging», which is the title of his blog post for topic 3. This is how he explains collaborative blogging: «I could read some blog posts from my fellow students, find interesting arguments and develop them further. Then, in order to close the loop, I will leave them a comment on their blog so they can participate on the discussion». To me this concept contributes to engagement among the participants, to creating a learning environment of curiosity towards the thoughts of others, and to utilization of the feedback potential. I will aspire to do try this out in this blog post.
In his blog post on topic four «Emotion as the 4th category in teaching presence?», Urban Göranson’s challenges the participants in the ONL 172 community with a question that stuck with him after attending the webinar of Dr. Martha Cleveland-Innes: What thoughts do you have on emotion as the 4th category in teaching presence?
I also attended this webinar and what came to mind when I listened to the Martha was the research of Hjertø and Kuvaas about conflicts. In their study they find that: «Cognitive task conflict was negatively related to team performance, emotional relationship conflict was negatively related to team job satisfaction and emotional task conflict was positively related to team performance (…)» (2017, p. 50) [my underlining]. In their conclusion Hjertø and Kuvaas state that emotional task conflicts «in which team members manage to combine intense, task-oriented communication with a non-negative emotional climate are conducive to good team performance. Passion within a team may be an important driver of beneficial changes that result in improved team performance and ultimately benefit the whole organization» (p. 66). In the webinar Cleveland-Innes says that teachers should probably not seek to have certain emotions emerging, but I am wondering, based on the research of Hjertø and Kuvaas, if teachers may want to welcome emotional task conflicts? As they state in their article, emotions may be the source of excitement and a motivational drive (even in cases where the persons have incompatible views on an issue).
Squinting into the Future
Moving on to another blog post, “Squinting into the Future”, by Charlotte Nilsson. She refers to the webinar by Alec Cuoros as an inspiration regarding creative ways to conduct online learning. At the same time she explains that not all courses are suitable for the utter most creative expressions, because the content of the course is somewhat «drier».
I do not necessarily believe that the teacher needs to present the content in the most fresh and imaginative way, but rather that the students should be engaged. For example; a lecture can be switching between presentation, individual work, group work and plenary discussions. The teacher may present some facts first and then pose a question to the class, before allowing the students a couple of minutes of individual reflection. Then he/she can ask the students to discuss in small groups (the persons next to each other if face-to-face teaching, and in breakout rooms if is a webinar), and then sharing and discussions in plenum. I think that by discussing the facts, instead of merely listening to a presentation of the facts, it might be easier for students to remember them (enhancing the learning).
Please utilize the feedback potential – by adding comments and questions below 🙂