Week 4 Deqsign?

Been thinking about the “course” I’m working and really there isn’t a course, only an idea of the need to resolve a problem.


At our very small community college we have widely dispersed students with minimal educational experience, low tech skills and, except at election time, zero presence in the minds of educational funding agencies. We also have dedicated teachers who are very adept at connecting with these students in a way that’s hard to describe beyond calling it a relationship of concern, respect, dedication and other things people don’t train for in a conscious way.


Were life here to go on unchanged:

  • Students who prefer to learn in their tiny home communities among people they know would continue to be served by traveling teachers or video conferencing on bad winter days.
  • Teachers who have experience in distance learning’s history of failure to have an impact on their students’ lives would continue to do as they have done which includes seeing online delivery as inappropriate and a close cousin of distance and its failures.


Life changes, and like it or not, online delivery is here. And appropriate or not, e-learning APPEARS to be the ideal solution. So ideal that no one even has to think about it! Why hesitate, just jump in.


Hesitate they have and the first way past this was to train our instructors in online teaching skills. Yes? Well, four years into this alternative only a few have responded and they still have to deal with students who haven’t caught up to the technology. Clearly we aren’t recognizing a problem and are blindly using the wrong fix.


Implementation of online learning isn’t the same as acceptance. We have the means, the funding and even a whole pile of theories to work with but without acceptance where are we? Forced acceptance? Not productive in a fragile situation where the people needed to carry the flag are unconvinced and the recipients (if, in fact, these are two parties and not just one relationship) are tenuously attached to the former system that is now to be turned upside down right in front of them.


So here I have a class that I’ll call “You woke up one morning and realized the internet is where you’d always taught and learned and was just as normal as could be (and please tell me how I managed to get you to believe that).”


Before I work on design I’m going to spy on Ralene Friend’s Facebook posting.

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  • Jaap Bosman  On September 29, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    Hi Scott,
    That is a hell of a job,
    Acceptance never is easy. It takes a lot of care to let acceptance grow. Acceptance only grows in little bits, and in some people its will only grow when other significant people show acceptance.
    You need the patience of a missionary and the shrewdness of a salesman to let acceptance grow.

  • Scott Johnson  On September 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Hi Jaap,
    You are right about acceptance. We can see it grow from one instructor to a few others. One department “on principle” rejects the move to online. To them it’s a form of capitulation and a gross violation of their values. It’s almost operatic when they get going:-)
    If we could suddenly make online delivery seem normal and not new we might have some success. There’s something about being the first few to try a new method (we are isolated here and online teaching IS new) that scares people. I wonder if that’s the key? To work with the one instructor who has fully taken on e-learning for her classes? That would involve diving right into the political shark tank here. Be exciting anyway.

  • jennymackness  On September 30, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Hi Scott – my experience suggests that you need a ‘flagship’ course which would serve to model successful practice for others. Ideally this flagship course could only be delivered online, i.e. it would be offered to students who could not attend face-to-face sessions.

    Again from my experience, people will say ‘it won’r work’, ‘you can’t teach my subject online’, ‘it’s a poisoned chalice’, etc etc., but the flagship course will show little by little and through a lot of dissemination of succesful practice and modelling, as well as offering small showcase workshops, that in fact it does work and is not a ‘poisoned chalice’.

    And finally from my experience, this can take a minimum of 5 years or more.

    I think you are right – work with one instructor and use her/him to model, demonstrate, disseminate and celebrate online successes.

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