I have been invited by Cris to a session on online learning and moderation We also use Blackboard (an exg!!??)at University of Salford.
Sorry if this post has grown up to be a long post! lol
I tried to answer all questions in one post!
What are our students' demands/needs?
After reading Hofmann's "Be an Active and Participative Instructor" and what she counts as learners' success factors, I thought of my own students. I thought if I am to talk bout my own experience, especially on the last two semesters when I was on a blended learning experience, I could formulate a better frame work.
As the proverb says, "Students don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." They need us to show that we CARE about their learning. On my first week with my students, I didn’t' asked my self what do I expect from my students? I did ask myself what do my students expect from me, (a apart from the course material, syllabus objectives and the college's strategic objectives)?
An online moderator? An online moderator/facilitator should always be available to assist learners to use the technology, encourage them to extend and explore their different learning styles.I once dropped out of an online course because of the moderator, who was rarely there when I needed him, synchronously or a synchronously.I guess as an online moderator, I also have to be aware of the course instruction and course planning. A good article which helped me a lot before I started my blended learning experience was " Negotiating students' needs and desires in cyberspace" By Sharon G. Solloway and Edward L. Harris:
Hofmann's states some of the factors to" Success".In my context,students need opportunities, because they have never given opportunities during all education levels they have been through. They need to be taught about the meaning of the concepts of sharing, interaction, cooperation, participation and collaboration. They have never been introduced to teaching using a variety of delivery methods. They had no idea about "user-friendly technology" in spite of the fact they are students in College of Sciences and Technology. The students work individually on assignments, and no cooperation is encouraged.
Hofmann's words, with which I agree 100%:
"The online instructor plays a vital role in ensuring that learners are successful. Whether delivering a traditional, synchronous, asynchronous or blended approach".
Don't forget that the additional burden on the online moderator. In the f2f classroom, time is spent with the teacher lecturing and the students watching and listening. When implementing, designing, and delivering online programs, education and training professionals should strive to incorporate these success factors at the planning stages to ensure cooperative learning in which students solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm during class, students work in teams on problems and projects under conditions that assure both positive interdependence and individual accountability.
I believe in teachers as "super-humans". When we interact with students, whether in lectures, class discussions, office hours, we need to "act" as competent teachers, trustworthy friends and dynamic parents. We have to do it in a way be are to do so in a way that provides educational leadership. We need to show them that we are leaders and good ones too! All these have to be performed, not in a teacher-centered instructional methods, but in a learner-centered one. I told you, we are super-humans!
I believe that one of the most important factors that lead to success in any online learning environment is the *humanware* that built between the moderator and participants. As Hofmann states, "The online instructor needs to become the central human contact point, reducing the impression that people are learning from a computer." Humanware is not only learner-moderator "long", but it should be amongst learners themselves. Students in the future "ill demand higher and more diverse skills and knowledge to support the creativity" and humanity upon which their success, in a course and in life, depends. Over the course of their lives, they will remember both the content of the course and the humans (moderators+ participants) they interacted with.
One of the most interesting workshops I watched and had an impact on my teaching style is an eight-part professional development workshop for Art teachers" In the eight one-hour video programs, seven principles of effective teaching are introduced, and then explored in depth."
http://tinyurl.com/339kgn (you need to register) Workshop 3: Addressing the Diverse Needs of Students
"E learning becomes as comfortable as a daily latte - cafe's of learning - you can hang out and linger over the froth, go alone, go with mates, or swing back a quick macchiato before getting back to work."(Sharon Smith)
What do you consider the educator' role in the educational setting of the 21st century to be?
I guess all the above could be some of the characteristics of the 21st century educator.Even much more are needed.