Evidence of Learning and Reflection #1
The first artifact that I selected was the concluding presentation I created January 16th to recap a week of facilitating the topic of information overload with 3 other members of my cohort. This task provided me with an opportunity to develop practical and technical skills in all phases of concept development, design, and implementation. It represents my experience and growth with both facilitating online learning and working with a group and demonstrates my ability to undertake engagement with environments through online facilitation for effective learning by moderating and building rapport and manage groups.
Reflection to Support Evidence
The concluding presentation consisted of a music video (which tied into our overall theme of a mock radio station) that transitioned into a Powerpoint presentation. The presentation is the culmination of the entire week's learning. My learning included, but was not exclusive to, the content area of information overload, group dynamics and online facilitation. As part of the group I discovered tools and strategies for coping with information overload that I had been unaware of. I became increasingly aware of my role within a group and how I respond to others during the collaborative process. I also had the opportunity to practice and refine my skills as a facilitator (and radio announcer.)
As part of my role as a facilitator I created a survey. This was my first experience using Fluid Surveys. I found creating a survey to be simple. I was able to explore several of its features such as viewing individual responses or looking at the “big picture” as a whole. Compiling data from the survey allowed me to refamiliarize myself with Microsoft Excel which I used to analyze the responses and create graphs to insert into the presentation.
During the creation of my presentation I was cognizant of the need to create opportunities for interaction as well as “brain breaks.” I incorporated interactive components such as polling participants to engage them in the conversation and gauge their perspective on a given issue. I also included a “call in” segment to encourage dialogue and included questions and comments from mock listeners to fill the expected silences. The “traffic report” and “weather report” provided relief from the rest of the content heavy presentation, kept the theme of the week going, and provided an opportunity for the remaining group members to participate in the conclusion.
I admit that I prefer to work independently but I found that the group worked better together than I anticipated. I feel that each member made different but equitable contributions and as a result of our individual skill sets, the product surpassed anything we could have created in that time individually.
Delivery of online courses has evolved considerably since its infancy a few decades ago. It is far more complex than a digitized textbook with a series of questions to be completed and submitted to a tutor. It is complex and effective facilitation requires more than expertise in a content area. Instructors must consider best practices in instructional design, possess effective communication skills, and be competent with the wide range of learning management systems and tools that exist. Opportunities to practice and apply these skills contribute to more effective instructional delivery. As a primary teacher instruction is almost exclusively face to face but mastering effective communication skills and developing an online presence can still be beneficial in dealing with families of students.
Evidence of Learning and Reflection #2
The second artifact that I selected was my recipe or facilitating online learning. I chose to showcase this assignment because it illustrates how I have developed an understanding of the complexity and requirements of facilitating online learning. I understand and design and commit to student success in online learning environments.
Reflection to Support Evidence
I created my recipe using Powerpoint. In the creation of my project I used features of Microsoft Powerpoint such as graphics, transitions, animations and audio elements. I chose this tool because it allowed me to animate my presentation and include a soundtrack which, personally, I find engaging. I believe it would be effective with both visual and auditory learners. Reaching learners with different learning styles is a strength of this format.
The process of creating my “recipe” caused me to reflect not only on my learnings from OLTD 503 but OLTD 501 and 502. No recipe for effective online facilitation is complete without a grasp of instructional design or instructional theories. With each layer I added to my “Learner Lasagna” I became increasingly aware of how complex effective teaching is. Not only are there many layers but each layer is comprised of several elements which must be incorporated in the correct proportions.
As always reflecting gave me pause to consider if my views and beliefs regarding instructional design and best practices in teaching were being transferred to my own practice. That is a continuing focus of my professional practice.
As educators we need to design our program and learning tasks with intention. Being aware of all the factors contributing to a successful online learning experience helps us plan with intention and utilize best practices to help increase student achievement. It is easy to plan lessons in isolation and lose sight of the big picture. This activity helped bring that big picture into focus.
Evidence of Learning and Reflection #3
I chose this artifact because it demonstrates my desire and ability to delve deeper into topics presented in the course. It demonstrates my intention to select strategies and resources appropriate for environment, learners and learning outcomes as well as my intention to understand, design and commit to student success in online learning environments. It also demonstrates my intention to familiarize myself with APA style writing and produce documents that adhere to these standards.
Reflection to Support Evidence
I chose to enroll in the OLTD program because online teaching and learning appealed to me. I enjoy working independently and at my own pace. I did not foresee the level of interactivity or group work that would be required.
Initially I was apprehensive about group work. I find that I allow others to take charge and do not ensure that my voice is heard and influence the direction of the project.
The creation of this APA style paper involved reading many articles on the subject as well as conducting my own survey to validate or disprove current research. Members of the OLTD cohort as well as selected professional colleagues were invited to participate in the survey. Creating this survey provided me with an opportunity to delve deeper into the features of Fluid Survey which I had explored in a previous project. It also reminded me to expect technical difficulties as many of my colleagues were, for as of yet unknown reasons, unable to access the survey. As a result the sample size was small but I do believe it reflects that larger picture.
I was surprised to see the high percentage of respondents who indicated that they, too, felt "invisible" and failed to get their voice heard in a group. Many others identified with the role of "taskmaster" and felt they were the delegators and enforcers of deadlines.
The articles I examined in the course of my research contained many strategies for making group work more effective. It made me feel empowered and less apprehensive about group work and more likely to include it my instructional design.
Research shows that group work does have significant benefits and results in higher achievement and development of real world skills required for collaboration. Facilitators need to be supported in their efforts to include collaboration in their program. For this reason understanding the benefits as well as the challenges and strategies to address them is vital for both online and face-to-face educators.