We are starting the second week of an 8-week online graduate course for Northeastern University titled Technology as a Medium for Learning (EDU-6323).
During this course, the middle six weeks explore different aspects of edtech, while we read and reflect on the learning science lessons embedded in Michelle Miller’s book Minds Online. This week, the topic is blogging, so it made sense to write a blog post … and use it to ask the 22 students in the current class some questions.
I love the diversity in this class. We have 13 New Englanders, 3 Californians, 2 Georgians, me and another student in Virginia, one in Seattle and one in Uganda Africa. A ten time zone separation!
Given the global nature of this class, I set it up as an asynchronous class … yet much of the edtech feed lately seems to be all about making synchronous learning work. Just this morning in Faculty Focus, there was the article by Zahir Latheef on “Synchronous Strategies for the New Normal“. Yesterday, David Castandesa posted in eLearning Industry “5 Tips to Alleviate ‘Zoom Fatigue‘ During Your Classes and Meetings.
I like Zoom. I use it for consultations with my doctoral dissertation students and one-on-three meetings with prior colleagues. I am a member of Harold Jarche’s global Coffee Club that meets monthly on Zoom. Thanks to my college roommate Andy Wehrle, some of us from 8th Company Class of 1972 have been meeting by Zoom to break the monotony of the pandemic lockdown. (Zoom on the right – our Plebe Summer Mug Shots on the left)
But I question whether Zoom is the right fit for every elearning situation. I could snarkily say to David that he missed the sixth tip for Zoom Fatigue – Don’t Use It! But I have not given my class the opportunity to weigh in. My first question to my class is – given ten time zones – would you like synchronous meetings for our class? If so, how often? If so, what time(s)?
One of the reasons I question the need for synchronous meeting is the high degree of engagement we had during our first week. Not sure how many I sent during the past week (a lot), but the class sent 195 tweets. In the Canvas forum for introductions, there were 259 posts, and in the first week’s discussion forum, there were 155 posts. Latheef in the Faculty Focus article highlights the need for building community through faculty-student and student-student interaction. I agree that building community is critical (a firm believer in the Community of Inquiry model), and would submit that we are already doing that in Twitter and Canvas without needing Zoom.
Plus, as Derek Bruff noted, there are alternatives, like FlipGrid.
If I wanted to use more video with students outside the LMS, what tool should I consider using? I’m thinking of things like VoiceThread and GoReact and Flipgrid. Suggestions?
— Derek Bruff (@derekbruff) July 13, 2020
In fact, Enoch Hale noted in an email to me this morning that he is using Flipgrid for asynchronous (but visual) faculty development.
So, class and any others, comment below as to your preferences.
And speaking of visual, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I decided to add some short personal intros to each week in the course.
Taking a page from Mike Wesch’s “Make Super Simple Videos for Teaching Online,” I have been sitting out on the back deck of my home making these one to five minute videos. I am interested in feedback from the class. Do they work for you? Is the tone right or too informal?
I still need to record Weeks 5-8 … but this is an opportunity to refine the process if needed.
So – two questions – and an example blog post. Whether you are a member of this class or simply an educator with a viewpoint, use the comment feature below to respond if so moved!