Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Response to Comments from Last Post

Once my response to the comment below got longer than most posts I decided a new post was in order.

I guess the difference is between communicating one-to-one or one-to-many (typical class) so the form of communication takes on various slants.

Keeping the focus in an online class - this is a learned skill (learned by me that is) similar to in a classroom. How do you keep the students engaged? Using Elluminate I incorporate the following:
-frequent opportunities for the students to respond (e.g. type your answer in the chat box to this question OR click the green check if you agree with the previous student's response - these are built into the online classroom environment). Don't go longer than a minute or so without having the students respond in some way.
-opportunities for the students to interact - I'll put them in breakout rooms to answer a question as a group)
-good visuals - no one wants to stare at a blank screen or a 'talking head' video.
-using the whiteboard effectively - last week each of my students wrote a math question on the whiteboard and another student answered it
-keep my own talking to a minimum
-some form of wrap up accountability (e.g. at the end of this class, before you log off, you'll be expected to . . .)

Focus isn't such an issue when I'm meeting on Elluminate to explain a topic or concept to a student. The other communication techniques (email, IM'ing) I was mostly thinking about one-to-one communication.

Video Chat vs F2F
Due to bandwidth issues I don't use straight video very often but it's interesting that you note the difference. In a F2F environment everyone is much more spontaneous. Even without lag time, on a video chat you tend to let the person finish before you speak, there is little overlap because the audio doesn't respond as well, people are less inclined to have 'offhand' or 'aside' remarks. I also think there is less body language and less intonation used. In a formal setting this probably leads to greater efficiency but less 'humanity' (not sure if that's the right descriptor).

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