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Communities Can’t be Manufactured; what is my job?

by on July 30, 2011


“Communities can’t be manufactured, but you can design the conditions under which they are most likely to emerge, and encourage their growth when they do” Rheingold (pg. 65). As I design and implement a class, intended to share theories and best practices of instruction with future educators, I will emphasize a student centered approach to learning.  While demonstrating through social means what I hope to see my students emulating in their own classes with their own students, I will be effectively modeling the Constructivist Method. The online classroom is an ideal place for student centered learning.  Within this environment it will be crucial to provide explicit expectations and instructions for the online student and how their success will be measured.The goals and assignments that I give to my online students must be well thought out and carefully implemented, because I will not be there to constantly monitor my students, to provide immediate feedback and correction.  It will be my task to guide all students to content mastery through course learning objectives, because it may not be a possibility to fill in the missing pieces in person.

Student expectations, both skills-based and academic, will be clearly defined in the syllabus.  The academic expectations will align with mastery of the course learning objectives, and the skills-based expectations will coincide with professional skills such as communication, work ethic, organization, time management, and technology skills including online agility and netiquette .  In the online environment it can be difficult to model and hold students accountable to some of the skills-based expectations, but I believe it can be done through various project ideas such as: E-Portfolios, Video and Peer Evaluations of Practicum and Theory, and Discussion Boards where students are given the responsibility of choosing the given topic and facilitating the discussion. Students must become comfortable with the idea that they are “architects of their own learning”, a quote from Elizabeth F. Barkley. They are an integral part to the online learning community and the quality education that takes place.

Candice Rutherford

Resources: The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online, By Howard Rheingold


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