A Journey to Online & Blended Learning

Several years ago I began this journey in online and blended learning.  What an experience it has been!  I (luckily) have had many opportunities to explore these types of learning settings both as an instructor and as a student.  How meaningful to be able to say to my students, “I have been in your shoes”.  Thinking back to my online graduate courses, I wanted each class to offer me something that I could (1) apply in my classroom, (2) experiences to build relationships with my classmates so I can learn and collaborate with them, and (3) to have a FUN learning experience.  When on the other side of the computer as an instructor, I keep these in mind so that I can offer my students those same experiences.  My goal is to demonstrate my passion and love for learning so in return my students can be prepared to successfully educate their own students.

At times, there is a stigma that online and blended learning lacks relationships and is more individualized.  How unfortunate, if that is the experience online students are receiving.  By offering a variety of interaction and relationship building opportunities, a supportive and encouraging environment, and providing assignments and feedback that promotes creativity and in-depth learning, I believe will help to effectively engage my future students.  A benefit to online and blended learning is that it can target so many learning styles.  Through the Instructor Training and the other trainings provided by PLS 3rd Learning, instructors are able to learn and put into practice the skills and tools that have been successful in their courses in reaching all types of learners.  These skills and tools will certainly help to engage our students in online learning, too.

The most challenging aspect of online learning for me, both as a student and as an instructor, has been technology issues.  Module 1 in this course said it best: “At some point, chances are you’ll have to deal with technology issues.”  Knowing that these dreaded technology issues will probably happen and to not panic is key.   Students and teachers have lots of sources for assistance.  Students have the instructor, the class discussion, Canvas Tutorials, and Tech Support.  The instructors have all of those resources, as well as, the Instructor Zone and mentor for assistance.  As an instructor, I try to be proactive and organized.  For example, going through a module to ensure that links are working properly and there are no errors prior to the students beginning it can help to eliminate any issues.

I am looking forward to this journey with PLS 3rd Learning and to providing a successful, meaningful, and fun learning experience for my students.