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.


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

Bernard Bull, E. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

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

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

The Role & Use of Music in Teaching & Learning.

Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities. Music can be used to stimulate right brain thinking through various brain-wave frequencies that may trigger different stages and responses. Within my experiences; teaching mostly creative and visual arts, students tend to use mostly right-brain activities such as media, imagery and music to process information. As referenced in Berk, Jordain, 1997; Polk and Kertesz, 1993 state that the brains right hemisphere utilizes nonverbal and creative activities that reflect emotional and subjective relationships between them. With the addition of media, music can also offer a way for students to generate knowledge through the aid of visual elements such as animations, illustrations, colour and live characters; similar to the Sesame Street effect (Berk, 2008).

Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities.

Within this short video (6:00), I have selected four clips that use melody, rhythmic patterns, pitch, and volume to stimulate brain-wave frequencies that can affect right brain thinking when learning and teaching.


Berk, R. A. (2008). Use of technology and music to improve learning. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from:

The Four R’s of RRUMALAT: A Masters Student Guide To Survival.


Running. Reading. Writing. Resting. | GIF created by Mark-Anthony Karam 2016.

It’s been a hectic start to 2016. Although, this is what I signed up for; I have to admit I get overwhelmed at times… Ok, I get overwhelmed many times. I tend to take on more than I can handle outside of work and school, which can contribute to unwanted stress. Obtaining a healthy work/life balance is always a struggle for many people, including myself. That’s why I decided to throw in taking a Master’s. 😐 <— That was sarcasm.

With the due date of my second assignment nearing for LRNT 505—in addition to my program portfolio show to prepare for, designing and developing online courses, family obligations, yada-yada-yada—sticking to a strict schedule has become crucial for me in order to manage projects and deadlines. (Off-the-record, writing this blog post was not part of today’s strict schedule. 😉 ) Over the past month, I’ve made an effort to stick to my routine of managing deadlines and managing stress. I call it the Four R’s of RRUMALAT (RRU Masters of Art Learning and Technology). These Four R’s help me get through my day and keep my sanity: Running, Reading, Writing and Resting. In order to maintain a healthy balance between work, life and school, I set aside time to exercise, complete assigned school work and get enough sleep so that I don’t “crash” throughout the day.

Hopefully, I can keep up with my Four R’s of RRUMALAT and survive the next 15 months.

I usually wake up at 5:30am and go for a 30–45 minute run and a brief workout. After my run, I get ready for work. I begin work at 10am and teach a class for four hours but I usually arrive at work by 8:30am. With the extra time, I read a few assigned chapters for school in my office, write notes and flesh out my ideas for any upcoming paper’s or weekly tasks/discussions that my teacher has assigned. After work, I make my way home and fulfil family obligations. Before going to bed, I read some more and write again… as I get ready to repeat the process the next day.

There are many other things I manage throughout my day; in addition to the above. I haven’t even touched on personal obligations. However, setting aside some time for myself and my family are important for me in maintaining a healthy work/life/school balance. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to go back to school but sacrificing my family and health are not sacrifices that I’m willing to make. Besides, that’s what keeps me going.

So far, I can’t complain. I love the program, I’m learning a ton, and I’m meeting some great people while building relationships in an online community along the way. Hopefully, I can keep up with my Four R’s of RRUMALAT routine and survive the next 15 months.


Be Water: My Online Learning Philosophy

With so much to remember, online facilitation and teaching isn’t easy. With so many factors to consider as an instructor and student, the process of teaching and learning in an online learning environment can get overwhelming at times. My approach to learning and teaching in an online learning environment is one that is adaptive, collaborative, inclusive and centered around the learner. I believe these attributes can help build a positive online learning community where social collaboration can be nurtured and enriched with the use of technology.