Blog post 1: some answers but mostly introductory context

I’m Rebecca.

I attempted, vehemently, to Wordle; I failed. This is likely because none of my degrees are in computing science. This is actually one of my biggest educational regrets since I have likely spent twice as many precious hours of my life reading computer help menus than it would have taken to get a BSc in computing in the first place.

1 & 2) My favorite vacation spot is Langkawi, off the coast of Malaysia. I assure you that it is totally google-able. The last set of novels I read, that were worth remembering, were Conn Iggulden’s War of the Roses series which were about….wait for it… the war of the roses. Not much of a cliff-hanger, I guess.

While becoming educated in Criminology (while neglecting basic computing skills….) I used the university transfer system at my northern local college and then finished 51/60 upper-division credits through distance education at Simon Fraser University. Geography and parenting interfered with on-campus student-ing.

As an MA student, I was living on campus in family housing so mitigated the geography problem but still had the parenting tasks so predominantly focused on online, except now I was the tutor marker. Subsequently, I helped develop and revise courses for our distance education program and even spent some time supervising for the online program. This continued throughout my PhD which I defended in 2014. Since, I’ve been involved with distance / online programs, ITV instruction, and several other mixed-modes of course delivery.

So what? I’ve watched the evolution (and sometimes devolution) of online learning.

3a) IMHO, the “most important characteristic” for quality learning is connectivity. Back in the old days (10 feet of snow, uphill…both ways), I remember agonizing over one little pen mark on an assignment that had been returned to me. Beating myself up: “what did I do wrong? Why didn’t the tutor marker explain…. I’m obviously the stupidest person in this class!” In hindsight the tutor probably just rested their pen for a second while reading. But I had no-way of knowing this and the turn around for assignments was often weeks. If I called the tutor they probably wouldn’t remember why they had put a period on page 7 of student number 9327863 who they had never met before. How could they? Feedback has improved with the shift from print based to online.

Connectivity, is a precursor for lots of the other characteristics that invite a quality online educational experience: engagement, discussion, peer support, comprehension.

3b) I do not know that I’ve learned it exclusively in the past year but am often reminded: enthusiasm is essential. A student can tell if you legitimately care about their success and if you feel invested in the course materials yourself.

This is much trickier to accomplish when you are not face-to-face but is possible. I find that I actually spend more time getting to know my distance learners in terms of their goals, interests, and learning experiences than I do the on-campus ones. This is necessitated when indicators like body language or tone of voice are often reduced. Finding out more about my student allows me to target in on aspects of the course that might be more engaging and relevant to the learner in question.

3c) My response here is less of a question and more of a comment: in the readings I noticed a pattern towards “less is more” in terms of the integration of tech into distance studies. I look forward to reading past chapter 2 of the text. This awareness, IMHO, is one of the best ‘advances’ lately.

All the best,

Rebecca

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