OTL201 – Post 5

Post 5 – Integration

I admit to be somewhat surprised regarding the concepts learned in this course that have the greatest impact on student learning. In this module we learned that mixing text and graphics in a presentation is an effective as a means of holding student attention. Conversely, instructor created interactive media, a time consuming endeavor that would seem to have a great deal of potential as an effective learning aid, is not significantly better than other teaching aids that require less effort. As always, know your topic, introduce humour where possible, and address your students on a personal level are simple but effective approaches for facilitating better communications and improved learning retention.

Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison (2013) discuss practices that instructors can employ to improve social presence for distant learning students. These practices including posting video introductions to courses, setting appropriate norms for discussion forums, and providing clarity to students about requirements to complete the course.  In addition providing (some) flexibility as to how course outcomes are met is an important strategy for learners who may be balancing job, family and their studies.

Specific goals that I would like to achieve concerning effective use of media include:

  • Creating a library of libraries of useful graphics for presentations through targeted web searches (Specific, Achievable, Relevant)
  • Creating a few short (and well scripted) video tutorials for courses I am teaching (Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound)

Additional questions about student engagement and retention

  1. In the online classroom, where the student population interacts asynchronously, there will develop over time leaders and followers; how can the instructor effectively interact with these de facto leaders to facilitate a deeper learning experience for all students?
  2. What other Web 2.0 technologies can be used to augment the learning environment for independent study?

Answer to these questions may already have been explored in the last decade by the research community. it is my intentions to research some of the more recent educational research looking for answers to these questions.

OTL201 – Post 2

Post 2 – Enhancing Social Presence

In my introductory post, I commented on the importance of collaboration and communication. Applying a social presence lens to student – instructor communication, I could have encouraged interpersonal communications, using techniques such as self-disclosure, affective expression or use of humour. Alternatively, by promoting open communications using such techniques as encouraging students to ask questions, continuing a student thread or expressing agreement in student’s messages. Further, by encouraging cohesive communications by using inclusive pronouns such as “us”, “we” and “group”.

Promoting social presence, at least initially, require conscious effort. The easiest category to incorporate into daily communications with students is open communications. Even with a rudimentary understanding of the indicators, with minimal effort, it becomes almost second nature to incorporate these indicators in everyday communications

Even with just a basic understanding of social presence, it is obvious that it represents an easy to use approach to improve instructor-student communication. Moreover, is powerful in terms of its simplicity. Thinking back to my own time as a student participating in online courses, I can see how social presence was used to enhance learning opportunities and to build cohesive classroom discussion.

OTL201 – Post 1


Dave - September 2015 (1)David Kumka is a former high school teacher and college instructor who took a brief hiatus from teaching. After spending the last 30 odd years as an IT consultant, and pausing along the way to pick up and M.Sc. in IT and a Ph.D. in Information Systems, David has (happily) returned to teaching as an OLFM.