WISE Award & Thoughts on Online Teaching

From SJSU SLIS: The Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) consortium recognized three faculty members from the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University with a 2013 Excellence in Online Teaching Award. Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, Dr. Michael Stephens, and Melba Tomeo were all recipients of this national award that honors the accomplishments of online educators. 

I am honored to amongst these incredible educators. As part of the award, WISE asked us to share thoughts about online teaching practice. Read about all of the WISE winners here: http://www.wiseeducation.org/faculty/bestpractices2013.aspx


Here are mine:

In the 2012 Horizon Report, the authors explore various trends impacting higher education. Two of the identified trends resonate deeply:

 The world of work is increasingly collaborative, driving changes in the way student projects are structured.

People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.

These ideas have lead me to incorporating these practices into my teaching:

Everything is Beta: We use a bespoke course platform created with WordPress and Buddypress. The platform can be augmented with plugins and enhancements per the request of students or the instructor. We try things. We test the limits. We embrace a bit of chaos.

Learning Everywhere: One of my recurrent themes of late. Students should be able to access course content, their reflection blogs and slaws activity streams in multiple ways. Multiple channels of audio, video and text-based content and a mobile interface allow them to participate wherever they happen to be.

Broad Creativity: I encourage students to think creatively about the deliverables in my classes. The wide variety of tools available to students learning online allows for any number of video, audio, and media-based expressions of their assignments.

Always Learning: This one is for me. I tell my classes that the minute I stop learning, stop exploring, stop moving forward, I need to pack up my virtual office and go sell tomatoes by the roadside. I want to model that behavior so my students come out of our program armed with a thriving personal learning network and a desire to always be learning.

Be Human: I’ve shared this one before but it bears repeating. Be human. Share yourself. Look to make that personal connection. I use a “Guilty Pleasures” forum in my courses. Nothing levels the playing field like confessing your favorite guilt viewing, listening, or reading  habits. This also means giving up a certain degree of authority.  I’d argue we are no longer in the “Command and Control” business, Now, we guide, facilitate and push, ever so gently, our students toward their goals.

This quote from Stephen Barnes resonates with my philosophy of teaching online: ““We must never forget that the human heart is at the center of the technological maze…”

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