Virtual Teaching and Learning

#oltak Reflections week 5


 I was enlightened by this weeks readings. I hadn’t considered potential disabilities of students past a reading deficit. It was eye-opening to learn of all the technology available or in development for students from minor to severe disabilities. I found myself thinking how important it must be for those students to be able to gain an education. It should be important to all students.

 Weekly, I am becoming more convinced that it is the responsible thing to do to incorporate some form of technological interaction into the learning environment. I have been posting communications on Blackboard for years but the way I have used it is equal to an email. I am just beginning to become comfortable with WIKI’s, blogging, and Skype. I’m still unsure of myself in Twitter and I don’t know how Google docs  entirely, but I’m getting the hang of it.

 In Factors in High Quality Distance Learning Courses, McClary talks about the role of the online distance instructor. He states that “Quality feedback provides indication the instructor has thoroughly considered the students work and develops a more quality personal connection between the student and instructor.” I couldn’t agree more. I was just telling a friend today that I’ve been in graduate school going on three years now and this semester is honestly the first time I’ve had my instructors give me timely and clear feedback. Last semester in an online class, I wrote papers, gave presentations, did projects and never received any feedback. I met with my instructor at the end of the class for a “feedback” one-on-one and he had never even looked at my intro…a required assignment as well. When I asked about feedback on my papers, etc. I was reassured that I didn’t need to worry about him “ruining someone’s program by giving them a bad grade.” I was also told how much I was cared about, as an individual and a student, and how this instructor would be happy to help me out with anything should I need to ask. What a bunch of crap and waste of my time. I got an A as my final grade but have no idea where my opportunities or strengths were in the assignments that I painstakingly took the time to complete. Students not only need feedback, they deserve it. Which brings about another point made by McClary that instructors need to be responsible in not taking on too much….if the workload is too great, the students should not be the ones to suffer. (I kinda got up on a soapbox there, hu?)

This week was a tough one and I did not do much to contribute to my fellow students learning. This is a month of volunteerism and fundraising and time is precious and very limited. I am working towards getting the English group in line and trying to make all the meetings that come up weekly. So, this week, my contributions have been to be a presence…even if it’s a small one. I hope what I have written will help people to think about how important communication and feedback is. I also found a resource for K-12 instructors that offers classes that address diversity of students within classrooms and may be used towards professional development at May be beneficial when thinking about students with disabilities and distance education.


McClary, J. (2013). Factors in high quality distance learning courses. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Volume XVI, Number 11, Summer 2013. Retrieved from:


2 thoughts on “#oltak Reflections week 5

  1. Hi – The soapbox is good! I agree with you about the importance of relevant feedback. A little goes a long way and is remembered long after the student loan is paid off. My Master’s degree program was very writing intensive. I realize that much of it was designed to help students define a personal approach or philosophy on different topics like diversity, ethics, theory, etc. But like you, I invested a lot of time and effort scouring the professional literature to be sure I was well read and networking with professionals in the field to get their opinions to be sure I was up to date and accurate on my writing topics. Most of the time, my instructors would not comment on the validity of my argument or the format of my paper or anything and just seeing an “A” w/o comments did not bolster my self-confidence. Years later, I read through a couple papers to see where my mind was at on a certain topic … ughh, the syntax and grammar errors and incomplete thoughts (thank God I never published some of these – LOL) and decided that if nothing else was learned, I knew what kind of educator I wanted to be. I look at it as a rite of initiation for a professional career, a kind of pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps method that periodically forced a self-analysis of my program goals just when I was getting comfortable. The key for me was to learn about nontraditional returning-student working-adult learner demographics and then clarity came much more easily. 🙂

  2. Thanks Helen! I’ve done a lot of studying and taken several classes pertaining to the adult learner…fascinating stuff, invaluable in how I have (and am still) learned to relate/teach an untraditional student cohort! And your right about taking all of that previous experience, the good with the bad, to channel the type of instructor my students need, or that I desire to become. 🙂 At the time, it was just so frustrating!! I’m no where near publishing anything except my humble blog here on WordPress!! I appreciate your feedback!!!

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