My Online Teaching Adventure Chronicle

I would first of all like to apologize for not posting very often to this blog in the past year. I really don’t have an excuse except to say: Middle States. When I was not teaching, advising, scheduling, I was mired in All That. I have no idea if anyone even follows this lame-o blog anymore, but I am committing myself to write some of my adventures in online teaching to chronicle how that goes.

I am teaching my first online course this summer. It just launched yesterday – May 28. I have about 10 students in it, so it is hardly a MOOC!

The first thing I can say is that teaching online is just a whole different experience than what I’ve heard some people say. It’s not just plopping content online and expecting people to read or watch it. Where is the learning there?

What I know about teaching online so far has come from Steve Kerby’s course about teaching online – best practices. I took that class in March and April and learned a TON. Mostly I learned about how online teaching has to be based on a learning community. This is not that hard for me to understand as I have seen the power of Reacting to the Past – and how that community that is built in playing the games of Reacting create learning. I’m not brave enough yet to try a Reacting game online, but I do want to try that.

During the online class, I stumbled across the Khan Academy’s “Smarthistory” site – which is essentially a web-based textbook for art history with videos about works of art that were recorded ON SITE in the various museums where the works of art are housed, and links to other web resources and text within the site itself. It is all arranged by a timeline of Art History. The site is **fantastic** and is the core of my classroom for this course.

Then, students comment, post, describe, watch, read, listen, write — as part of the class. I have had some very good posts already on Day 2. There have been a few hiccups – one student said she saw a unicorn on the wall of Lascaux. Uh, no. And I’m not sure what image she was looking at so that is hard to discuss. But I’m thinking about how to answer that little problem. So far I’ve asked the students themselves to think about why that might not be right (they are listing everything they see in the cave paintings before suggesting what they mean and I’m hoping the “unicorn” stands out to someone as the UNREAL thing in a list of all real things – horses, lions, bears – oh my).

So. I will continue to chronicle. And if you are still hooked up for updates to this CFE Blog, you’ll get them, too. And if I figure out how to link this to Twitter (I think I got FB figured out), you’ll see it there, too.


3 Responses to My Online Teaching Adventure Chronicle

  1. Jessame Ferguson says:

    Great post Gretchen! It’s not easy to do great things with technology, kudos to you for branching out and reaching outside your comfort zone to learn new things and keep moving forward!

  2. gretchenmckay says:

    Thank you, Jessame. This is definitely out of the comfort zone, but my students are great, Steve Kerby is like the Wizard of Blackboard and Online Learning, and I’m having a good time. It’s work, yes ’tis, but it’s interesting and my students – even in an online environment – are showing their unique selves and their interests and their knowledge. So far, it’s all good (except for the unicorns).

  3. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular
    article! It’s the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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