Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I made it to San Antonio, Texas last night after flying in and around thunderstorms. We experienced turbulence for most of the flight and I for one was very happy when the plane touch ground. I’m here at the Noel -Levitz Conference to give a presentation on how our Title III grant has been a catalyst for the great strides and Distance Learning has made at Carteret Community College, especially in professional development and online course methods. We’ve come a long way both technologically and in our online teaching methods in just a few short years thanks to the funding we received from the grant.
I went out to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant with my colleagues from CCC last night. It is nice when you can mix a little pleasure with business. That is what this trip is for me. There are some excellent workshops and presentations on student retention strategies as well as marketing and innovative ways to help our students succeed. I’ve been teaching for 25+ years. Things have changed radically during my career with the Community College System of North Carolina. To think I do a majority of my teaching online is mind boggling in itself. The communications tools at our disposal are very powerful and if used effectively enable me to connect with my students like never before. Its a two way street though. Even though many of our students (mostly younger demographic) are technologically savvy, we as online educators must not assume they will succeed as students in the online environment. As I’ve preached in many of my distance learning workshops; teaching online demands a very different approach (pedagogy) than working in the traditional classroom setting.
You can’t just transfer your classroom teaching style to the online environment and expect to be successful. Even though things have changed dramatically in education over past 25 years, some things will always remain relatively the same. Being able to effectively engage, communicate and connect with students, no matter what the environment or location is critical to our success as teachers and the success of our students. How can we expect to retain our students in our High Schools and Colleges if we can’t engage them? If we can’t motivate them? If we can’t challenge them? If we can’t excite them about learning and hold their attention. Educators must embrace and become proficient in all kinds of new technologies if they are going to remain viable in the digital age. Not only do we have to learn new skill sets in order to reach out and connect with our students, whether that be online or a combination of online and in the classroom – we also must channel our passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of our subject areas through various communication tools (platforms) like Blackboard, Moodle, Skype, Dim Dim, and Instant Messaging.
This to me is the real challenge for educators. We can no longer view technology as something to be feared, but as new dynamic tools to be embraced and harnessed to enable us to do what we do best and that is teach students. Engage our students, challenge our students and prepare our students to succeed in the highly competitive global marketplace. These are both exciting and challenging times for educators and college administrators. With budgets being slashed its time to truly rethink how we teach our students. I believe the online environment is the new frontier in education and we have only scratched the surface as to the potential of reaching (and teaching) students via the internet.
Ok…gotta go and give my talk – its all on my T3 Blog.