Questions for Reflection: How am I realizing my role as an online instructor? How does this role fit within my comfort level/traditional view of my own teaching identity? Do I need to adjust – if so, how?
My role as an online instructor is just starting. I have uploaded my class to Canvas and am going to let the students enroll in the class on Monday. They will start their first project and I will see how it goes. I think my role in this online experience will be easier because I do see the students and can offer help if they need it. If I didn’t get to see the students, then my role would be different. There are many things that are different when you are teaching online vs. teaching in class. Some of the things I anticipate will be more difficult include being sure students have adequate technical support, finding ways to maintain good communication between myself and the students, and staying aware of whether or not each student is understanding each assignment. These are just a few of the things I expect to be hard.
According to Shamsy (2014), every “online instructor has received at least one frantic email from a learner concerning technical issues.” I know this is true because I have been on the other side of the boat and have been the frantic learner emailing my professor about a technical issue I was having. When learners are experiencing this, they often get frustrated. An online instructor doesn’t want this to happen to their student.
I like what Zane Berge says: that a team approach requires the collaboration of everyone involved (cited in Shamsy 2014). I believe more can get done if you work with others instead of alone. No matter what way you go, often the instructor has to be the one dealing with technical issues. It helps to stay on top of things like this so you can help your students when needed.
Everson (2009) has some good points that I can relate to like:
1. Teaching online is a lot of work. I agree with that. First, you have to get the content you want to teach and then upload it to the online course you are going to use.
2. Students appreciate regular communication. I think this is critical for the student to be successful in your class. They need to know they are on the right track or they will feel lost and confused.
3. Deadlines matter. I think this is important because in an online class you are not there to encourage students to do their work. If you don’t give deadlines, they will fall behind and then get overwhelmed and may drop out of your class.
4. Online courses are not right for all students. I agree with her on this statement. In order to be in an online class, you need to be motivated. You need to be able to complete work on your own time. Some students don’t have what it takes to work on their own, so an online class may not be right for them.
5. Ask students what works and what doesn’t. This is a great point because if you don’t ask, how will you know? If you find out what didn’t work then you can change it for the better so it goes more smoothly next time.
6. Share ideas; collaborate and communicate with others online. This is a very good point. By reaching out to other teachers, you can see what others are doing, how their online classes are going, and what is working for them. This is the best way to get ideas for your own online class.
7. Teaching online can inform me what to do in the classroom if you teach online and in the classroom. I think this will help me out since I will teach in the classroom and online. I can see what needs to be explained more online. In the classroom, I can help students right then and there, but online I have to be more detailed on the assignments so they don’t get confused on how to do it.
Below is a table from Craig et al. (2008) that really fits well with what I see an online teacher’s role to be. I believe an online teacher has to play all of these roles, in one way or another.
I am feeling comfortable teaching my online class so far. I know issues will probably arise once I really get started, but I will adjust when I need to. I like what (Craig, et, al., 2008) mention about the reflection journals students write. I think I am going to do this with my current class, so both I and the students can see what they have gained as they progress through the course. I look forward to seeing how it goes and how the students will progress through the class.
Craig, A., Goold, A., Coldwell, J., & Mustard, J. (2008). Perceptions of Roles and Responsibilities in Online Learning: A Case Study. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://ijklo.org/Volume4/IJELLOv4p205-223Craig510.pdf
Everson, M. (2009). Elearn Magazine: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Online. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=1609990
Shamsy, J. (2014). Elearn Magazine: A Balancing Act Part I: Technical Support and the Online Instructor. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2627756