Posted in iFacilitate at 12:42 pm on February 27, 2012 (permalink):
I haven’t done the readings yet, but here are some preliminary thoughts and concerns. I’ve found that both a challenge and an advantage is the openness of online learning communities. In other words, as a teacher, I can’t and shouldn’t want to control the networks that students naturally create with classmates — individually and in small groups — as well as with me and course spaces I’ve created. In the students’ personal learning environments and networks, the line between social and educational becomes blurred — but this is a good thing, I think, and a natural part of learning.
One way I found to encourage this inter-networking is to refer students to other students when one needs to learn something the other has mastered or is in the process of mastering. My first impulse as a teacher is to answer the question or solve the problem. But in resisting this and asking students to explore self-learning alternatives or suggesting ways to learn from peers, I find that I can jump start the horizontal networking. The goal, I think, is ultimately to empower the student as an online learner and not necessarily for me to become the fount of wisdom or the know-it-all. Some students will gradually realize what I’m doing and appreciate the independence I’m cultivating while others might, at first, complain that I’m not “teaching.”