Last week was a struggle to figure out what is expected for this course (and two others I'm taking), how to manage the time required, how to PLAN for how much time will be required, how to get to everyone's blogs, how to find the time to READ everyone's blogs, how to keep track of which blogs I've commented on, etc. While I sincerely appreciate the flexibility of an online class, I also believe learning online can be much more challenging than a traditional class...when much of the requirement included simply being physically present in a given space at a given time. An online class, in my opinion, requires a much higher level of engagement for learners. There is a LOT to read, a LOT to write, and a lot of management to be done to ensure that course expectations are being met. Anyone who says online classes are "easier" is crazy! :) To help my brain keep track of how many posts I've made, who has commented on my posts, to whom I have responded, etc., I made a simple tracking sheet that, so far, is working beautifully in helping me keep track of posts, topics, and themes. Note to self, as a result of this tool development: If I need this to keep myself organized, it is likely a tool that some students in online classes would also find useful.
I appreciated comments on my blog post from Thomas and Jonathan. It was interesting to read what others were thinking in response to my post, and I had fun replying to their comments. Their replies really got me thinking about (AGAIN!) dialogue and how critical it is in online learning. Their replies to my original post, and my comments on their replies, made me wonder if small groups would work in an online class -- so that a group of three or four students would be responsible for a group conversation (e.g., original post from each group member, responses from others in group, followed by continued conversation during posting period). One thing I have found true already is that I want to be equitable in commenting...but it takes so much time just to get from one blog to the next, find the post, read it, read the comments, and then respond. AND if one person's blog post has several comments and another person's post doesn't have any (or only one), then I want to post to the person who needs more comments. Sheesh! It's all so complicated! BUT...it is making me think SO much about what all of this means for students taking online classes -- especially high school student, who are already insecure about themselves, in general. If they are struggling learners, a lack of responses to their posts could very likely contribute to feelings of inadequacy when it comes to academic topics. I hope I was able to contribute to the learning of my colleagues in this class by posting on all but a couple blogs. One blog didn't have Comments enabled, so I couldn't post. I have no idea if any of my comments helped the folks who received them, but I can hope!
Twitter is my friend: I tell myself regularly. Seriously, it's a great tool for sharing resources quickly and with a wide audience. I tried to tweet something at least once each day this week...even if it was just to share a cool resource I stumbled upon. I attended the statewide RTI Conference in Anchorage this weekend and was intrigued to learn that a fabulous strategy for summarizing paragraphs, previously known as "paragraph shrinking," is now being referred to as "paragraph tweeting" because that terminology makes sense for students. Ah...the power of technology!