Currently, I’m building my very first online class. This summer, I will be teaching an internship seminar remotely through my school’s Blackboard platform. Last quarter, I completed a training session. It’s really interesting to see how teaching can be adapted to various online platforms. However, it does come with some problems. What if your lecture file is too large for the system? How do you navigate more creative assignments? And, of course, there are probably quite a few issues I will run into as I go along.
This prompted me to ask Dirk vom Lehn, a sociologist and lecturer at Kings College in London and his colleague, Will Gibson, a lecturer at the Institute of Education at the University of London a few questions:
Can you elaborate on what types of resources you use while teaching online? Things that make the online environment easier to use and more interactive. I’m currently building my class, so I use Dropbox when the files are too large to be uploaded to Blackboard. This is my online resource. Perhaps you can elaborate on what you use. Some instructors love Prezi or other types of presentation software. I’m sure that I will run into some issues as I go along, and want to have backup sources to keep the class running smoothly.
Gibson: Actually, we have a very simple kind of technology architecture – really only use Moodle and change the default file size which allows most files to be uploaded. We also use Blackboard Collaborate for real-time classes. The only other additions are things like Doodle for scheduling classes, and occasionally Google Docs for sharing documents. We did try using Crocadoc for some collaborative document work but actually most people didn’t use it.
I like Prezi but found that it took too much time to put together (probably just because I am so accustomed to PowerPoint). Also, it is not cheap compared to basically free PowerPoint. I do agree that it makes for much more flexible and enjoyable presentations though, so maybe I should re-consider that. Also doesn’t work well with Blackboard Collaborate though….
Von Lehm: We have a version of Blackboard to disseminate information to students at my institution. The system works reasonably good but seems ineffective in generating any kind of discussion; or a lot of effort is required to encourage people to return to Blackboard once they have downloaded course related material.
Alongside of Blackboard I use a closed Facebook Group. Students join the group in the beginning of the course. I use the site to share information, and students quickly join in and also post news items, video clips, etc related to the course.
As part of this year’s course I have shown Tiffany Shlain’s film Connected
. I setup a Blogger site where I posted questions
related to the film. Not all students engaged in the discussion but it generated reasonable engagement. I plan to advance the use of the film together with a discussion site next year.