Monday, October 5, 2009

Good Practice Principle #1 - Student-faculty contact

Do you spend time getting to know your students? Not only their names, but their interests and opinions? And do they get to know you?

One of the dangers of some online education is that it can distance the learner from the teacher, not only geographically, but personally. Recently I was chatting with a colleague, who teaches a large number of students in an off-campus unit. She made the comment that her online students often address her as "Mr", even at the end of a 13-week semester, as they have never met, never seen her, and never got to know her (she has a gender-neutral name). It's certainly not her fault, rather the traditional distance education systems that we are forced to use (Blackboard is one of the culprits!).

The online experience doesn't have to be de-humanising. Consider the following Web 2.0 tools that can be used to connect with students:
  • Video
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Skype
  • Blogging (both as a blogger and as a commenter on student blogs)

I use all of these tools in my teaching, and they work brilliantly. There are benefits for me (getting to know my students), and for my students (increased connection to their teacher, and their learning experience).

I guess that's why it's called "social media"!

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