My Philosophy: Teaching & Learning In An Online Environment

(Video clip retrieved from YouTube. My Philosophy, Boogie Down Productions.)

I teach in Technicolor; meaning, I use a mixture of visuals, multimedia, and metaphors to tell meaningful stories that relate to my students’ prior learning experiences. At present moment, I consider my role as a facilitator of learning to be a hybrid between coach and co-learner (Bull, 2013). As stated by Schönwetter, Sokal, Friesen, and Taylor (2002), I recognize that the dynamics of teaching and learning are subject to change; and so too will my future teaching philosophy. One aspect that will always remain true, is recognizing the context of the learner. I am cognizant and empathetic towards students who face personal barriers and hardships. I make a conscience effort to become aware of student’s academic needs and learning styles. My aim as an online teacher and facilitator is to be one who is adaptive in teaching and learning practices. Although my students perceive me as the subject of knowledge and experience, I continually strive to develop new perspectives and concepts surrounding the subjects that I teach. I believe that creating an effective online learning environment must develop learner–learner interactions through communication, collaboration, cooperation and community.

Building an Online Community

I believe creating a positive learning environment through social constructive collaboration is important in building an online community. Nurturing connections between student–student and student–teacher can assist in creating a network that helps the learner achieve their academic goals. According to Anderson (2008), “Students can work together in an online learning context to collaboratively create new knowledge.” Recently, a group of my peers and I conducted a week-long online facilitation. We discussed the topic of Instructor and Social Presence in an online learning environment. Our goal to was to enhance online community building by creating a positive learning environment where communication methods could be explored through various forms of multimedia. As a group, we decided to task members of our online community with discussing topics using any form of multimedia that made them feel comfortable. Students in our cohort chose to record their discussion using video, while others chose audio and animated slideshows to communicate their thoughts. These tasks allowed students to explore new technology while facing personal barriers of communication through the use of multimedia. Wilson (1996) refers to a positive learning environment as being a ‘setting’ or a ‘space’ wherein the learner acts, using tools and devices, collecting and interpreting information, and interacting perhaps with others (p.4).

Online Learning Activities

During the week, we observed valuable connections and interactions being made. We concluded that the discussions among our cohort took on a life of their own through peer-to-peer facilitation. One student provided verbal feedback stating “This was a fun task, which took me out of my comfort zone but I liked it! As I got more comfortable, I learned more about the cohort and myself. I feel more connected to the cohort because of it” (Anonymous, personal communication, February 18, 2016). In a study conducted by Correia and Davis, as stated in Baran and Correia, (2009) they found that peer facilitation, as opposed to instructor facilitation, in online discussions was the most popular collaboration design preferred by online learners. Students found peer-facilitated discussions more meaningful and interactive and felt their contributions created a strong sense of community (p.342). Creating a learner-centred environment—that nurtures social constructive collaboration—allowed students to gain confidence and inspired others to contribute to the learning community.

“This was a fun task, which took me out of my comfort zone but I liked it! As I got more comfortable, I learned more about the cohort and myself. I feel more connected to the cohort because of it”
— Anonymous

I truly believe that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the education process. Harlow, Cummings and Aberasturi (2007) state that according to Piaget, people construct knowledge from their interactions with their environment. As I approach my tenth year teaching in media studies, my approach to facilitating and learning in an online environment is to continue fostering constructive collaboration amongst students with the use of technology. Advancing their online socialization skills through e-tivities will allow students to build a basis of their own micro-community (Salmon, n.d.). To transfer my philosophy into an online environment, I would use a variety of techniques such as group discussions using Blackboard’s forums and blogs, video tutorials, social media, self and peer-analysis questionnaires and other online collaboration activities that allow students to build a strong online community.

References

Anderson, T. (2008). Toward a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds), Theory and practice of online learning (pp. 45-74). Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University.

Brindley, J., Blaschke, L., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning,10(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271

Bernard Bull, E. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/eight-roles-of-an-effective-online-teacher/

Dieter J. Schönwetter , Laura Sokal , Marcia Friesen & K. Lynn Taylor (2002) Teaching philosophies reconsidered:A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements, International Journal for Academic Development, 7:1, 83-97, DOI: 10.1080/13601440210156501

Evrim Baran & Ana‐Paula Correia (2009) Student‐led facilitation strategies in online discussions, Distance Education, 30:3, 339-361, DOI: 10.1080/01587910903236510

Gilly Salmon,. (n.d.). Five Stage Model . Retrieved from http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Harlow , Cummings & Aberasturi (2007) Karl Popper and Jean Piaget: A rationale for constructivism, The Educational Forum, 71:1, 41-48, DOI: 10.1080/00131720608984566

Wilson, B. G. (Ed.). (1996). Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design. Educational Technology Publications. Englewood Cliffs NJ. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/ZxKIWX

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