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.


RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or sometimes, Really Simple Syndication – in general terms the capability offered by this service is called a “Web feed”. Based upon a subscription model, RSS can be used to automatically subscribe to updated content. Subscribing to an RSS feed negates the need to check individual blogs or websites for updates. This can be a useful tool for the student as a means to gather social content for summarization or analysis.

Social Presence

The COI at Athabasca University has some introductory information about Social Presence that you can find here.

Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people.’ Instructors can intentionally apply social presence principles to enhance the learning experience.

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.

OTL101 – Post 5

In Post 2 I discussed an application of the practical inquiry model. The example I described was from an online course from 2002. Although online courses were relatively new at that time, the course design went well beyond what might be termed “an electronic version of a traditional correspondence course”.  Although a little strange in the early days, it proved to be an effective model of learning and produced some meaningful discussions when the topic was of interest to the students.

The two most important ideas or concepts presented in the course so far relate to the practical inquiry model providing student feedback. The practical inquiry model provides provides an approach to adult learning that  is quantifiable, both in terms of available research and in my own experience with adult learners. The relevance of the student feedback information presented in the course resonates as it reflects both changes in the student and in the delivery medium.

The questions that arise for me from the course concern measurement and evaluation of learning. Do we know enough about online teaching to effectively measure student learning? And what portion of those measurement tools can be automated?

Two specific goals that I would like to achieve are:

  • Developing relevant skills for providing specific feedback to online students
  • Explore more recent research related to the Community of Inquiry model of learning particularly in terms of what the model can measure  in regards to student learning