Having come to the end of these 3 courses, the main way my thinking has changed is in realizing that teaching an online course is not as simple as just transferring the content and teaching style associated with a face-to-face course. On-line teaching, and specifically, building a Community of Inquiry requires a completely different teaching approach.
An important lesson that I learned is how powerful the design of the course can be. The way that I structure my course objectives, assignments, discussion questions (and whether grades are associated with discussion forums) sets the foundation for helping (or hindering!) my students reach the deeper levels of thinking. Yes, the students have to motivate themselves and put in the effort, but the desire to do that is inextricably linked with the instructor and the design of the course.
Moving forward, I really want to contemplate how I can help my students reach the integration and resolution phases. This is a bit difficult to do in terms of course design because I did not have the opportunity to participate in the design of my course, but I can certainly strive to meet that goal through the way I interact with my students in the discussion forums, the way that I give them feedback on assignments, and the little “extras” I create for them (e.g., videos). I’d really like to be able to create short videos to share with my students but right now that doesn’t seem possible because the learning platform we use will not support uploading a file that size. It’s frustrating to bump up against technological obstacles such as that, however, I will persevere and get creative (if any of you have suggestions, I’m all ears!).
I’ve learned a lot from these three courses, and am happy to have had the opportunity to participate in them. Reading the material and then having to post about it and read others’ reflections has helped me to integrate my learning and start building a toolbox of on-line teaching skills. Thank you!