Virtual Teaching and Learning

#OLTAC Lessons from OLC and COP’s


What lessons might we take from successful and unsuccessful OCL institutional innovations and from the concept of Communities of Practice?

This weeks reading had me thinking about the credit recovery course we are designing and gave me some hope that I would have something to offer other than scheduling Skype meetings and sending out “recap” emails to my fellow classmates!

I found it interesting that learning really takes place through interaction and discourse within a community of people who share the same interests, goals, and excitement about a subject or problem and are looking to enhance their knowledge or learning through exposure of ideas, philosophies and experiences with like-minded individuals. More so than mere exposure to information.

Harasim (2012) writes how people involved within a community of practice “discuss their situations, their aspirations, and their needs. They ponder common issues, explore ideas, and act as sounding boards. They become informally bound by the value that they find in learning together.”

Last week we discussed the importance of discourse in online learning environments, how fundamental it is to feel attached, valued, and that your time is well spent. This class expects us to engage and reflect on the ideas each of us document in our blogs. We meet via various internet vehicles and we are in the midst of an online learning community…and in effect, with the development of our course project, a community of practice.

I think by understanding the nature of OCL’s and COP’s we should be able to build a “community” with our online classroom and develop learning tools that are relative to high school students. How can we make it fun? Get them talking to one another or their mentor/teacher? Currently, I am Tweeting and blogging, am feeling more tech savvy every day, and I’m having fun! But the most important point is, I’m learning!!!

My thought is that event though I know diddly-squat about teaching high school literature, I should be able to take the principles from these learning communities and create some diverse and fun activities for our credit recovery course.

I found an interesting article that talks of how creating online games for grade school students has proven a fun and interactive way for them to learn. The idea is transferrable to pre-collegiate students also but different parameters must be met. “It’s a misconception among some people that games will do the whole job. If you ask students to play a game, they will play a game, but they won’t try to learn from it, the teacher very much needs to know what objectives they want from the game.” Leading discussions before and after the game to draw connections between the game and what the students are learning in class is an essential part of achieving the desired learning outcomes, experts say (Ash, 2011).

While creating games may not be the most efficient learning tool for every subject or module, I think it’s worth considering delving into addressing teaching strategies that are going to seem relevant to a population of learners that were born with microchips at their fingertips.


Ash, K. (2011). Gaming goes academic. Education Week, 30(25), 24-24, 28. Retrieved from

Harasim, L. (2012), Learning Theory and Online Technologies, London: Routledge


3 thoughts on “#OLTAC Lessons from OLC and COP’s

  1. I think it would be great to have game-based units for an online course (or even for the whole course itself). Many of the students who end up in credit recovery courses are ones who might not be engaged in a regular classroom, but they might really enjoy playing a game that manages to teach all of the same standards. The problem then becomes how to design a game (with no budget) that not only teaches the standards but is also fun. It would also be possible to make it collaborative (the way that people do with World of Warcraft). Groups could collaborate and bring their skills together to defeat some kind of grammatical hydra or something. I’d love to help design something like that, but I definitely wouldn’t have anything to offer besides ideas (I’m not a programmer in any way!).
    I am fairly confident that whatever we end up with will be as engaging as we can possibly make it, though it probably won’t be classified as a first-person shooter.

  2. Naomi,

    I like the idea of using gaming as part of our English Literature course. I have no idea how to design that. Like Jon said in this post, there is no budget either. So I’m not sure how to incorporate this idea. Since I don’t know how to create a course on Blackboard, I found myself looking up resources to help me even know how to do the basics. My experience is in taking Blackboard courses, which in the beginning seemed very large and looming.

    Using each other as sounding boards when commenting to each other over common interests in online blogs or other means is a great way to think about the topic from the other point of view, and consider one’s own thinking deeper. Many discussions can occur within a real-time class without groups distracting each other too.

  3. Hey, Naomi…

    I’ll admit — at first when Dr. Graham said we would be creating credit recovery courses for math and ELA, I was worried. I wondered how in the heck we could do that if the math team didn’t consist of math teacher, and the ELA team wasn’t exclusively English teachers. Wow. Here’s an area where I’ve learned a lot…especially this week. Your comments about this hit home because I’ve been thinking about it so much the last several days, mostly because I’ve come across a number of resources that talk about “project management” and ALL of the roles that can exist when creating a great online course. A couple of resources:

    * — This infographic was the first one I ran across. Tweeted it earlier this week, and am glad I did so I could find it again for you! Really appreciate the way the graphic breaks down the various roles and what each role contributes to the overall project. Related to our credit recovery class, I know a lot about the content (English LA), but I know “diddly-squat” (:-) about actually getting the thing online. Good to know great course development takes a team of people with varied skill sets…and one of them is definitely rounding everyone up for meetings and providing a recap in notes!

    * — Also found this article interesting (Key Roles of an eLearning Project). Basically the same information as the infographic, but with things spelled out a bit more and links to additional resources. A bit from this particular article that REALLY hit home for me is that the “visual designer” creates stuff that “ultimately lends to the learning.” Whoa. Big idea to wrap my brain around! No longer is the content expert the one who will dispense all knowledge! The content is super important, but ultimately, the way it is displayed for the learner is a HUGE part of how well a learner will learn/understand/enjoy the content and the course.

    Lots to think about… 🙂


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