What in your view makes computer-mediated communications unique from a teaching perspective, or is it just old wine in new bottles?
So, I don’t drink wine hence, I did not understand that metaphor completely. However, if it means repackaging an old item in new shiny packaging, then I disagree with this aspect of the question. Digitally supported communication is revolutionary especially when it comes to education. The issue here is not the medium but more so educators who are not open to new ideas of facilitating a classroom. I remember having a discussion with colleagues who refused to accept that face-to-face learning can also occur online because they were very tied down with the traditional version of a classroom. In my opinion, face-to-face learning can be computer/digitally facilitated – I see my students’ face and they see mine (face-to-face) – the only aspect that changes is the medium. I think it is important for many educators to realise that using digital mediums or platforms will not make you less an educator. The medium does not determine whether you are a good or less than good an educator. Yes, there are challenges but as we have learnt from Module 1, there are challenges with every medium of teaching and learning. In this new normal, it is imperative to accept that digital based teaching and learning is here to stay and the sooner we get on board, the sooner we will be able to better guide our students in an effective manner.
How would you implement the learning activities in both synchronous and asynchronous environments?
I will draw examples from my own experiences to respond to this question as I use both forms in the courses I teach. I typically use asynchronous communication (recorded lectures, topic self quizzes, etc.,) prior to synchronous communication (one live session via Zoom for students who are able to attend the live session. An outline of the live session is uploaded on the e-learning platform we use (Moodle) for students who were not able to make it to the live session). I also do individual or group-based virtual consultations for different cohorts of students. So far, this system has worked for me, but I am open to learn more and further strengthen the delivery of my courses.
What strategies will you use to maintain your teaching presence throughout the course?
As emphasized in Module 1, teaching presence is very important. I realized this pretty early on when the first lockdown in Fiji occurred. Students were panicking and I realized that all they needed was reassurance that everything will be fine. It is very important to assure students that they will not be abandoned at any time during the course. At the same time, I found myself responding to student messages and queries at all times of the day and night just because I wanted to be present for them and this was burning me out. Hence, teacher presence is important, but so are boundaries and once your students know that you are not abandoning them in an online/blended course, they will eventually become more self-reliant, and you will have less hovering around them to do.