Thursday, September 17, 2009
A few of my distance learning principles for success
First, you have to have a passion for learning new things. You can't ever be satisfied with the status quo, especially since we live in the "Information Age." My action steps for this principle are to start subscribing to prominent bloggers in your field today. And if you want to be looked upon as an expert in your field, start contributing to the conversations in your field by starting a blog and writing about issues in your own field that you are passionate about. This will open up a whole new world to you and lead to many new connections. This is one of the reasons I eagerly developed a University-wide blogging system for BGSU (https://blogs.bgsu.edu). Every student, faculty, and staff member can create as many blogs as they want. It has been awesome to see what happens when everyone at the university has a voice on the web. They create, communicate, and collaborate in ways not possible in years past. The day of hording information is over because information is ubiquitous and we have now entered the day of sharing information. It's those that know what to do with all the good information on the internet that will make a difference in the world. If you don't believe me, ask yourself why MIT has uploaded 1900 courses to the internet as well has hundreds of other schools. They understand that information is not the commodity, it is the interaction with experts and peers from a community of learners around that information. Second, if you are an online instructor, communicate, communicate, communicate, with your learners. Many people just entering the world of distance learning may think of it as a glorified correspondence course, however they could not be further from the truth. Online learning actually facilitates many new streams of interaction and communication and the best instructors leverage those streams in their courses (i.e. social networks, blogs, twitter, youtube.) However, they must use these technologies appropriately and with much wisdom, as they may end up just generating noise instead of true learning opportunities. It is for this reason at BGSU that we have an expert staff of educational technologists in the Center for Online and Blended Learning, to work with our online faculty.