By Dr James Brunton, #Openteach facilitator, Chair- DCU Connected Psychology
Reflecting back on the #openteach course, it is easy for me to identify my favourite aspect of the course. My favourite aspect of the course was using the ABC learning design framework in a team to collaboratively come up with the basic idea of having a problem-based scenario approach, as well as deciding on the key online T&L topics that those scenarios or dilemmas should focus on, and then seeing them come to life in the course.
As course participants engaged with the course content on each dilemma, presented their reflections on and possible solutions to that dilemma, and engaged with each other’s ideas in the forums the dilemmas-as-designed took on multiple new lives as dozens of different possible futures for Eimear, Michael, or Aine took form. As a facilitator, it was fascinating to watch different people place Eimear, Michael, and Aine on one track or another and to see how much of a consensus built up around whether or not that was a good track to send them down.
It was activity around what Michael should do in his dilemma that stood out to me the most during the course. Unit 3 focuses on Micheal’s ham-fisted attempt to use breakout rooms where he commits many online classroom sins. The majority of course participants commented on what Michael should have done differently within the online classroom in order to more effectively use the breakout rooms as a tool for student discussion and collaboration. Michael really did get a bit of a roasting. But many participants also made what I thought was a key point about this dilemma in an online classroom, and that was to highlight the need to prepare well for online teaching and providing supportive resources in advance. To be prepared and organised! And to remember the power of the asynchronous side of a module and not to try and solely focus on what happens within synchronous class time.
These course participants were pointing out that the success of a synchronous session often depends on the infrastructure put in place in the module beforehand, for example, support materials relating to a class uploaded to the VLE, or built into the module learning materials. Michael could have recorded a short video explaining the activity to take place in the breakout rooms for students to view beforehand. I often think that there is a tendency to overly rely on synchronous sessions, for instance when students need a support session on referencing, or they need a briefing on an assignment, when what is more effective is to create a ‘resource pack’ where information is available in text and/or multimedia format in the VLE (asynchronous support) and then compliment that with a synchronous session if appropriate/possible. Afterwards, you then have a permanent resource for students who were not engaged at that moment in time. The resouce pack can be further developed in the future and you can share it with others.
Thank you to all the course participants for such engaging and worthwhile discussion around this topic, and to Michael I say keep trying, you’ll get there!
Here is the link to the #Openteach take-away resource for online classes and collaborative activities.