BUT, even after just a couple days of reading the assigned text, reading my colleagues' blogs, and researching topics specific to my own interests, I know I'm in the right place. It really is amazing to me how much education has changed over the last 20 years...and SO much of that change is directly related to technology. The job of an educator overwhelming. Period. When one adds to the daily tasks the burden (and opportunity) of learning how to use available technology, it becomes a job with double the responsibility with no additional hours in the day. As I work with teachers at every imaginable point in their careers as part of my daily professional duties, I am struck by how strong a force technology has become: Even the least "techie" teachers have learned to use tools that change the way they teach and learn. Even the most reluctant of our teaching staff have embraced certain applications that make their lives easier, make their teaching more effective, and make their content more accessible to students. Pretty cool...and pretty powerful, technology is.
As is true whenever I take any grad-level class, I am struck by the knowledge and experience of my colleagues. While reading through the blog posts for this week, I have been exposed to new resources, websites, tools, and ideas. Some I immediately took the time to check out; others I bookmarked for later review. I'm reminded of how important collaboration is, and why dialogue and discourse in online learning are so powerful to the learning that can occur. The research and theory related to dialogue in Transactional Distance Theory and in Guided Didactic Conversation prove themselves true in this week's blog postings: Dialogue -- talking and communicating and sharing and learning together -- brings online learning to life.
My biggest take-away for this week is related to the importance of dialogue to a meaningful online experience that results in lasting learning. Building opportunities for people to connect with each other should be essential components of distance learning classes. Despite the fact that they are in different physical spaces, and reading and writing at different points in time, online learning should provide learners with opportunities to learn with other people, even if they are sitting alone at computers in very rural place.