The Magic of Coffee – Teachers New to Online Learning

Although it rarely serves me well, I really like it when I can conclude that the answer is black or white. If the answer is clearly one side rather than the other, then I know where I stand. I like knowing where I stand, which doesn’t require me to be in that messy, uncomfortable in-between place. There are no subtleties or much effort required to fully understand a situation or person if the answer is seemingly clear. However, the answer is hardly ever simple, and I believe to understand the full complexity of something often necessitates being uncomfortable.

That is the result of the dissertation research of David D. Hoffman titled, “Considering the Crossroads of Distance Education: The Experiences of Instructors as They Transitioned to Online or Blended Courses.” It’s the reaction of instructors as they live in the anxiety provoking space of learning a complex new tool. If we could get a peek into their story, it might sound something like this.

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You’re a Designer, I’m a Designer, We’re All Designers — An Interview with Dr. Matt Koehler

Outside of the fun I’m having with this research and writing, my intention is to bring something useful to the educator who reads this. (And those people are numbering in the near double digits. It’s not just my mom any more!) So, like a good teacher, I’m working to personalize the lesson.

I’m doing this in a couple of ways. First, I chose an article by one of my professors in the MAET program then I begged and pleaded — though I’m pretty sure this wasn’t necessary — for him to contribute to the post. He agreed, of course. The result is that we will look at the article by Michael D. DeSchryver, Sean M. Leahy, Matthew J. Koehler and Leigh G. Wolf (2013) titled, “Technology, Learning, Creativity, and Design: The Habits of Mind Necessary to Generate New Ways of Teaching in a Career of Constant Change.” Although this already looks like it’s focused on practical applications, I’m going to refine that even more and zero in on those very practical uses.

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The Science of Learning, Through Stories

For the past six months I’ve had a book sitting on my desk that was a gift from my previous place of employment, Divine Word College. It is not a book of fiction. I have been struggling somewhat to read fiction lately; it takes me many, many months, and I only manage to finish one or two a year. I lost interest a few years back and my focus has turned to nonfiction. I’ve read about the 1992 disaster on Everest where fifteen people died, a man-eating Tiger terrifying a small backwater village in Siberia and a real-world example of what it’s like to try and live on minimum wage, among others. I suspect that as an educator, the appeal of nonfiction is that I’m learning about the world. But this book from Divine Word College might as well be fiction.

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When Technology Happens To You — Learning Tech is a Process

The main idea that I picked up from my most recent research article “Educational Technology is a Process” (2013) by Rachel Ellaway is that learning technology and refining it for teaching, is, exactly what the author says, a process. But I’m pretty sure I could make an argument that everything is a process. Learning is a process, training for that marathon is a process, eating a pint of Talenti mint chip gelato is a process. It’s all a process.

This topic interested me because I have some friends that have no confidence in their technology skills. But you don’t pick these things up overnight. I spent several years in a program of study to have a better understanding of how best to use technology in my teaching. And even though Ellaway writes about educational technology in medical education, I believe the core principle is the same: learning about using technology in teaching is a process.

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