Two weeks ago, just as my term’s worth of fully-online courses were getting started, I began this “diary” series about teaching online. I was hoping to be more active following up with it before two weeks, but hey. Here I am now.
The bulk of that 1st entry was simply reporting on how some of my students responded to a survey I sent out. One positive response to the question “how do you feel about learning English online this term?” was:
I feel great because you have fun teaching.
That response was given shortly after the very first class, one in which I put a good deal of attention and effort into modeling and eliciting enthusiasm for the course. So now I’m prompted to ask myself if, two weeks in, am I still having fun with it….
The answer is yes. And I think that student and any others who may find it motivating are likely still perceiving this, so that’s good. How? Well, first: now we’ve had two live online classes and both had similarly high energy. And second: our Moodle forum and class Line chats have been active and I’ve taken a good deal of time to respond in a personal way to nearly every submission (with specific responsive feedback and using the students’ name as much as possible, among other things).
This slide from a presentation at English Australia’s Ed-Tech SIG Symposium (a 2-day online thing I was able to attend only some of live, but now have all the recordings, yay) sort of gets to the spirit of it:
I saw that on twitter and replied with something like “yay, I think I’m doing something right then!”.
HOWEVER! However…I think this level of personalization is mainly a ‘phase 1’ phenomenon. While I’ll like to keep it up throughout the term, we’re now getting into the thicker forest of course content (Week 1 being zoom training, GTYK activities, and a light course orientation and Week 2 being an intro/overview of the topic which is, in broad strokes, public speaking). Now comes, for me, the harder part in terms of generating material and managing students’ work. So, I think I’m going to be generating a bit less “shared fun” myself. And of course this is okay…I think overall ‘mission accomplished’ for these first couple of weeks if, in general, my 150+ students have a positive mindset and feel some happy vibes when it’s time to log on.
One logistical thing I’ve done that I’m also hoping contributes to good group dynamics is open my Zoom room a full 30 minutes early. I announced this and mentioned explicitly that (to paraphrase) “this is for you guys to hang out together – like you would in the classroom on campus before your teacher shows up…of course you should also chat about class work, share advice/ideas, ask and answer each others’ questions about the class, etc. but please, do use that time to just connect with your classmates and friends and I’ll show up at class time!”.
Both weeks, maybe half of all 4 class sections were very much settled in on Zoom when I logged in. Sometimes they were playing with features, sometimes they were just chatting, sometimes they were showing off their pets. Seems like fun. Seems like some good group social time that might otherwise be lacking. So this is why I cite it as a potentially good influence on student satisfaction and perhaps ultimately student success on this course and therefore will keep doing it.
What else…so, after Week 1 and 2 doing orientation and introduction, we’ve arrived at the main show and this is how it flows:
Now, if you’d really like to tell me all the ways I’m “doing TBLT wrong” please, PLEASE share your feedback in the comments section below. I realize it’s an old-school, basically a PPP approach but yes, yes that’s exactly what I’ve determined should be done here with this course and these students and this Matthew. 🙂
And with that, an admission: this week is Week 3…class is tomorrow..and…I have not yet produced my model task video.
And with that, an escape: see you soon, I hope, for diary entry #3!
Diary entry #3, I predict, may have something to do with the issue of “video on or off?!” in Zoom with 40+ students. It’s been a thing. And the below slide is from the very first webinar recording I’ve got to watch! Just after I make a tutorial video for my task model…
Anything you’d like to share – comments section below!
PS! – ahh one more thing I just remembered I’d like to jot down here in my ‘diary’: one of the best things that happened last week was I had some moodle issues and instead of spending the time and energy trying to work them out myself AND instead of sending off a pseudo-anonymous email I hiked to the IT department, asked where I could find “the people who run the moodle”, followed their directions to the top floor of the university library, and found the most pleasant and helpful handful of women to answer my questions. They steer the ship of moodle, and now I’m in with them and they rock. Most importantly, this system I spend so much time on has changed from a big, bad tech tool to something with a human face on it and I know anytime I have an issue I can stroll over to that office, have a blast getting it heard and addressed, learning something, and probably having a shared snack with my new moodle manager friends. So remember, not unlike soylent green, the tech we use is people.