By Samantha Trevaskis, DCU Connected student, #Openteach project team member
When I was first approached by Orna to be the student advisor on the #Openteach project, I must admit my initial thoughts were centred on the opportunity it would provide me to network. However, I had just started my fourth year as a Distance Learner. As such, I felt and still feel, very passionate about open education.
Having completed a full-time degree in English and German in University College Dublin when I was 20 years old, I was very aware of the dynamic which exists between a tutor and a student in typical full time, on-campus course. This experience was crucial as I am one of an elite group who has completed degrees in both an online and offline environment. This gives me a different perspective and awareness of the subtle differences between the two environments.
The most striking difference is the lack of physical presence which can lead to a lonely experience for the student. I found out by working on the project that teaching online can be a lonely experience for an educator. One aspect of the #Openteach course that I felt was particularly beneficial was the opportunity for educators to become the online student; to experience how it felt to sit in the students’ seat, grapple with the technology, and feel the terror of posting in a discussion forum for the first time. I think that this chance allows the educator to understand the emotions which a student might feel, and helped me to understand methods of encouraging discussion and communication if I become an educator in the future.
To see the work the team put into producing the course was an incredibly fulfilling moment, and I felt so proud to be apart of it. In the beginning, I was somewhat intimidated by the team, worried that my opinion was not worth as much as others as I did not have as much academic experience. However, there was no need for me to feel this way. The team were incredibly encouraging and respectful, and it was gratifying to have my opinion listened to.
Having just completed my degree, I am so proud to have left a little mark on my course, and hopefully, help educators and students alike in the years to come. No doubt more education will move towards a VLE as the current pandemic has forced many naysayers into the environment.