Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When Bad Things Happen to Good [Online] Teachers [TLT-SWG-28]

Online classes cannot entirely avoid technical disruptions.

How can we develop realistic expectations, and prepare contingency activities - both for students and teachers?

When the online connection breaks, if you're alone in a room with a computer, you're REALLY disconnected. When teaching or learning online, we're using highly complex systems that are unpredictably - but often - subject to changes that no one can fully anticipate or control. More…

Most experienced teachers have ways of adjusting when they sense a face-to-face class veering off track, but the same repertoires don't work the same ways online. We need new ways of detecting and preparing for technical disruptions, new ways of negotiating realistic expectations, and new ways to remain calm and patient when online problems happen. Most of us haven't much experience with the kind of sudden isolation caused by breakdowns in online systems, and we don't like that abrupt, disorienting transition.

Conflicting Views
- Online sessions aren't worth the trouble until "they" can eliminate those breakdowns!
- Online students shouldn't complain about technical interruptions.

Solution? Questions!

Attitudes: How can we develop realistic expectations and lower everyone's stress when technical interruptions happen?

Activities: What kinds of constructive alternatives - both for teachers and students -? can be prepared? By whom? For which kinds of interruptions?

Triage: What kinds of interruptions can be safely ignored? What kinds deserve alternative plans? What kinds require rescheduling the session?
More… [Leave a comment with your suggestions!]

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