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Teaching as a Conversation

I wasn’t originally going to post this, but after reading Rita’s blog entry about her experience in our student-led conversations tonight I had to chime in. Rita commented:

“I truly feel that I interact with my classmates and instructors more often and on a more complex level than I ever have in a face to face environment. I think that our conversations are more carefully planned and thought provoking than face to face conversations. Take a moment to think about all of the times that you have left a conversation and thought “oh I should have said this” or “I wish I would have worded this more clearly, I should have said…”. In an online environment, you have time to construct those complex thoughts and you can always, easily, go back and review the conversations and revisit the conversation, and add to it.”

Being on the other side of designing learning environments for students is a nice sheltered place where you can easily sit back and drop your standard collaboration applications in place and hope things come together for the teacher. Well, being a student in one of these environments changed my perspective completely on this. Not only do the tools have to fit the teaching style, but it needs to be engrossing enough so that intangible flow happens where the students and teachers get enough out of the environment so true learning can happen. This is where barriers to the online environment fall, and everyone becomes an eager participant, and the end product is something bigger than documented learning outcomes or a syllabus can describe.

Our last project was to lead a conversation in Elluminate, in essence, teach, for ten minutes about any topic. I chose Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). There wasn’t much else to say other than, “We’ve been doing this all along” but of course I ran out of time. I attached the slides below, and cut my teeth uploading them to Slideshare (thereby extending my PLE, natch).

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