Objective: What is the Instructors role in a community? The Online Teaching Survival Guide divides an online course into four phases, then provides an outline of what should be included in each phase using the best practice guidelines and the supporting learning principles suggested in their book. In this paper, I will discuss the instructor’s role in each of these phases. Phase one is the beginning or the first couple of weeks, where “presence, community, and clear expectations” are encouraged. At this time, the instructor role is to be the “negotiator” to develop the link between the learner and the technology, learners to each other and to create a positive learning environment (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016, p. 79). Phase two is the “early middle of the course” where learners are beginning to settle into the course readings, doing group work, sharing their learning with each other and participating in discussion forums. The role of the instructor in this phase is to “guide and mentor” the learner as they begin to work towards the course goals and objectives (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016, p. 90). Phase three is the “late middle” where the learner is connecting what they are learning from the course to their own experiences and constructing their own personal learning, the learner is beginning to understand how they will apply this learning into their workplace. The role of the instructor is to be “facilitator” where they are inspiring the learner, asking questions to clarify what has been learned, encouraging creative thinking and ensuring that learning outcomes are successfully completed (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016, p. 97). Phase four is the “…reflecting and wrap up” where the learner is completing the course requirements, reflecting on what they have learned and how they will use their new knowledge, the role of instructor is to “direct, mentor and support learners…” as they finish the course. The instructor should be confident that the learner is ready to move forward with their learning and can demonstrate that the course goals and objectives have been achieved (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016, p. 97).
Reflective: What has been your experience with this topic? How do you identify with it? With the courses, I have completed online, I can now see why at some of the course my learning has been more successful than others. The courses that I remember learning the most at were the ones where the instructor was very present, I would hurry home from work and log onto the course to see what the instructor or other learners had posted, everyone was engaged in the learning and I was always sure that the some one had created or commented on a post. How I felt engaged in that course fits with the finding from the paper Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses: The Roll of Teaching Presence, where when the instructor creates “…a strong and active presence” (Shea, Swan, Sau Li, & Pickett, 2016) the learner feels more connected and engaged in the learning. I have recently taken a mandatory online course where there was no instructor presence, I was required to read the script do a short online quiz and achieve an eighty percent or better to pass. I did all the modules and achieved the passing mark, but if I was asked to summarize my learning I could not, if this is an example of no instructor presence than I can understand how not much learning is achieved, learners just rush to complete the course. When I spoke with my fellow co-workers the consensus was the same, we could remember bits and pieces when we spoke about it with each other, but individually each of us admitted we could not summarize our learning. We learned more by communicating in our own created community than we did by individually completing the course. If this course had been presented as a group activity then I think that the learning would have increased, as we would have shared our learning rather than having each of us do this alone at the computer.
Interpretive Questions: What does this new learning mean to you? What new insight do you now have? How has your thinking changed because of this learning? I am actually shocked at how my definition of about what a community is has changed. I have first thought of a community as being a group of people, which is partially true but a community is actually a group of like-minded people. A group of people is just a group, they could be standing at the street corner waiting to cross the street, they have the same goal of getting across the street, but they are not a community, a community shares ideas and communicates with each other and is working towards a common goal. In the classroom either online or face to face learners will be more engaged when they have a sense that they are contributing something of worthwhile and are welcomed into a community (Barkley, 2010). The goals might be different for each community for example a sports team is a community working towards winning games and nurses are a community working towards improving the health of their clients, but to make a community successful there needs to be an environment of respect and trust of all its members.
Decisional Question: How can this new learning be applied in your online course? In my online course, I am going to provide an ice breaker activity to help learners introduce themselves, I am going to spend some time getting to know who my learners are as people and allow them to get to know me as a person and instructor, I will connect the learners to each other, the technology and to myself as this will encourage community engagement. I make learners aware that I am a nurse, that what I am teaching I am also applying in my practice, this builds credibility that learners look for in an instructor. I am going to create a presence in the discussion forums by creating or commenting to posts frequently, asking the learners guiding questions to help them think more deeply about their learning and by providing frequent feedback about how the learner is progressing, so if there are any concerns they can be addressed quickly and the learning can continue.
Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. M. (2016). The Online Teaching Survival Guide (second ed.). San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass.
Shea, P., Swan, K., Sau Li, C., & Pickett, A. (2016). Developing Learning community in Online Asynchronous College Courses: The Role of Teaching Presence. Retrieved from https://blogs.cornell.edu/acadtech/files/2016/04/Developing-Teaching-Presence-Shea-Li-Swan-ysp7n1.pdf