Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thoughts at the end of my Distance Learning course

I’m thankful to have been able to take this Distance Learning course. As an online professor and as a mentor of online professors, I’ve learned several things that will be quite beneficial to both those I mentor and myself. It is rewarding to study concepts and practical tools that will apply quickly to the work I do.

I haven’t done much with online course evaluation previously, and this week, I’ve been able to evaluate peers’ courses that they’ve designed for this course. That has been helpful to me to think through how things are laid out and how I can keep improving my own course design. It has also reassured me that I know a lot about online education.

While I was able to design part of a course (Introduction to Online Teaching) in Wikispaces, I wish that I had been able to make a course in Blackboard or ReggieNet (ISU’s version of Sakai) since they are the Course Management Systems that I work with professionally. However, I wasn’t able to get that to work from my end. I have also learned that there are many more resources about online learning than I was aware of. 

One of the resources that has been helpful to me has been a series of videos from COFA at UNSW. I highly recommend these to other online instructors!

One of the things that I learned from this class is the need to keep experimenting with new online tools. I think that I’ve been afraid at times to jump into a piece of new technology and “test drive” it in a course because it might not work perfectly or because I might have students who understand it better. In the future, I will try more things and celebrate those tools that work well for me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Things I'm learning in my Distance Ed course

I am really enjoying my Distance Education class at IllinoisState University!

I went into the class thinking I knew more about online education than I probably did. I’ve found the concepts that Dr. T. has introduced to be stretching mentally for me as I’ve worked to learn about and then apply technologies that are new to me. I’ve felt overwhelmed at points and I think this class might work better as a full semester course instead of being taught in six very short weeks.

I am developing more confidence in the online course content that I’m producing as I move through the class. I am becoming more involved with several RSS feeds that I get on Twitter (@ajbeaty)and Google Reader so that I am able to stay current with changes in distance education. I was also exposed to more information about mLearning which is an area that greatly interests me as it relates to options for global theological education.  

While I have experimented with doing some audio and video messages for online classes, I will use the Yodio audio recording tool often in my future classes. I’m already evaluating how I can integrate it into the mentoring that I’m doing. The three schools where I’ve taught online courses each utilize a specific college-wide course management system. I’m evaluating how I can incorporate some of the skills that I’m learning in this class to improve courses in those schools…even if they are in a “more rigid” environment.

One thing that I’ve learned that will stay with me is the need to keep on top of the rapidly changing field of distance education. I need to keep reading, watching, researching, and questioning on a consistent basis in order to not fall behind the current trends.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Distance Learning Podcast Reviews

Here are some of my thoughts about a couple of podcasts that I reviewed for my Distance Learning class at Illinois State University. I'd love to hear your thoughts on either Blackboard 9.1 or e-Books!

Here are my thoughts on an audio file: Podcast Reviews

Here are the podcasts if you'd like to listen to them firsthand: New features and details of the BB SP8 upgrade. And...Do you like books, or do you like reading?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are you ready to be an online student or faculty member?

For my Distance Learning course at Illinois State University, I had to take two quizzes this week.

As I took the first quiz, I worked hard at not answering the questions “the correct way” to make myself look good. Even so, I ended up with a “perfect score” for being a good match for being an online student. I found this to be interesting in that I have had discussions from two different angles in the past few weeks.

Moody Distance Learning
In one conversation, I was talking with other members of the leadership team at the college where I teach about a problem we were having with a particular student. This student was having extreme difficulty in their classes, and we were lamenting the fact that we did not have a process in place for determining whether a student would be a good fit for our online program or not. Although simple, this quiz would be a good initial screening tool to see if someone might be successful in taking classes in an online environment.

In the second conversation, I was discussing with my wife how many of my classes at Illinois State University were either online or hybrid. So, while I teach online college classes and while I am attending a “brick and mortar” university, I am currently an online student more than a face-to-face student.

Moody Bible Institute
The second quiz evaluated whether an individual was ready to be an online instructor. This too is a very timely resource for me to look at as the leadership team at the school where I teach is constantly in dialogue about how to evaluate the readiness of people to teach online. In my role, I teach and mentor new online professors; however, often times, I get people who may have been professors for years in a traditional setting, but then struggle with many of these specific issues that this quiz addresses. For our particular situation, I believe that we could personalize several of these questions and again have a much better screening process to see where prospective instructors are at. It would also be a good discussion starter with new teachers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about either of these quizzes and how we can continue to improve on both finding the right students and the right faculty to make online learning the best that it can be!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

I have greatly enjoyed my online educational journey! I started out learning much of it as I went along...with little formal training. Over the past five years of teaching online courses, I've learned incredible things about my own teaching style as well as what makes online undergraduate instructors successful or unsuccessful.

As part of my doctoral studies, I'm now taking a course at Illinois State University that will give me more of the foundational elements of teaching distance learning courses. I'm so excited to learn more about the process which in turn will help me be a better online educator and a more effective trainer of and mentor to other online professors.

Stay tuned as I'll be updating my blog regularly over the coming six weeks!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Andrew's Mentor Musings

Recently, I've changed my focus with Moody Bible Institute's Distance Learning. Although I've been teaching classes for several years, I'm transitioning into mentoring new online professors as they start their online teaching career.

I'm loving this new role!

I've made a few videos about our mentoring program, and I'm going to upload them as a video podcast here on this blog. Please let me know if you have questions or suggestions on how we can improve these or if there are topics that you think we should include in future video podcasts.