Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Re-post: What are our students' demands/needs?It's all about being a human!

I am re-posting one of my posts durig a session on online learning and moderation at University of Salford.  I was reading about the same topic for a coming virtual seminar. I enjoyed reading it and thought to re-post it as a reminder for more investigation in the near future.Here it goes:
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 have formulated a better framework.
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' ask myself what do I expect from my students? I did ask myself what do my students expect from me, (apart from the course material, syllabus objectives and the college's strategic objectives).
Online learning? An online moderator should always be available to assist learners to use the technology, encourage his learners to extend and explore learning styles and strategies. I once dropped out of online courses 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 instructions and 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 subtitle" Success"? My students need opportunities, because they have never given opportunities during all the education levels they have been through. They need to be taught about 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 that they are students in College of Science 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"
But this adds to the 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 factors at the planning stages. This is to ensure cooperative learning, in which students solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm during class. Students will the 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!
One of the most important factors that lead in success of 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 will 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. This is what they will remember of their instructors, whether f2f or online.
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."  (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, regarding what I have been doing, could be some of the characteristics of the 21st century educator. Even much more are needed.
Superhuman beings?? Maybe!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My chapter in an International book!Hurrrray!!!

This post is relevant to an earlier one o this blog.

Today, while I was working on completing my tasks for week 9, I received an email telling me that the book "CALL in Limited Technology Context" is being printed!!I have a chapter in this book which entitled "Bleeding edge challenges in Sudan: Limits on using CALL in EFL classrooms at the tertiary level".Yeees!

This is the link for the screencast sent to me.Or you can click here to see the title of the book of the sidebar.

Unfortunately, I can not access in Sudan. It's a problem with Sudan IPA address. Anyway, I hope I will be reading a copy soon. It’s a book by authors from different parts of the world. The main focus of each chapter is helping teachers figure out what they can do despite all the barriers and problems they encounter when using technology in classrooms.It a book full of practical ideas and inspiring experiences. It a book which is recommended for all teachers who live in limited technology context and who are using/will use technology in their EFL classrooms.