I’m about to start a new online course. It’s called Facilitating Online and is run out of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town. The course is part of the e/Merge AFRICA programme. It’s my first attempt at consolidating and relating to learning and teaching theory what I have learned about learning online as a student. I’m particularly lucky because I got a chance to pop in on a single session of the course last year, so I have some idea what I’m signing up for. I’ve also been privileged to “eavesdrop” on my colleagues doing the design work for the course – such an exciting position to be in!
The first thing we’ve been asked to do is start a learning journal. I’m usually absolutely terrible at keeping a journal. I’ll write for a couple of entries and then lose track of the process in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I’m going to try to stick to this one though! We’ve been given the following questions to guide our initial reflections:
- What are your feelings about the course before you start?
- What are your goals and expectations for the course?
- How will you know if you have met your goals?
So, let’s take them one at a time then…
How do I feel about the course?
I find myself both quite excited about the course and oddly nervous. I’ve done more than a few MOOC’s but there’s a delicious anonymity to those – thousands of people from all over the world, and no-one I know in sight. As a “young” academic staff developer, having an anonymous space to practice my craft is priceless! So the online space of this course – populated by people I either do or should know or who are at best one degree of separation away is a nervous proposition.
What are your goals and expectations for the course?
I’m going to set my goals fairly low for the course. This is looking like a stupidly busy semester and completing the course is better than dropping out! So, my goals:
- Make my scheduled engagement/learning times.
- Make the submission deadlines.
- Try to understand how to create safe but challenging online spaces.
- Try to understand the limits of facilitation as a teaching technique.
- Meet some new people in the field in which I work.
- Try to watch the course from a design/creation perspective with a view to creating an online version of my course.
How will you know if you have met your goals?
My goals range from the concrete and observable to the less easily measured. It will be very easy to see if I make my scheduled engagement times and submission deadlines.I think it’ll be a trickier to tell if I understand how to create safe but challenging online spaces until I try with my own course. Similarly, I suspect that understanding the limits of facilitation will only be clear in the context of actually running a course on my own.