Online Learning and Undergraduate Education

This week I spent some time thinking more deeply about online learning and its integration into higher education with a focus on communication. I work at the University of Minnesota (in the Center for Transportation Studies), and also teach a f2 freshman level course in the College of Science and Engineering. I’ve been integrating various technologies into the course to allow for out of class collaboration (so attempting to make it a hybrid course). I’m interested in learning more about how my students interact and collaborate outside of class. The tools I’ve been using include Twitter, Flipgrid (wonderfully created by the LT Lab), and PollEverywhere. The CMS that I’m using is Moodle (as it’s the standard for U of M courses). Moodle is a good tool (I am assessing it for our assignment), but in order to create an effective Moodle site, the instructor needs to spend the time developing and designing a good site with a focus on content and interaction, among other things. Ironically, I’m taking this course at the same time of my teaching duties, which gives me an opportunity to apply what I’m learning in this class to my freshman teaching duties. So, this leads me to “Communication.” Communication is KEY to building a community with your students, both inside and outside of the class. I made it very clear during our first class that I was going to be integrating some additional tools into the course to help us build a community. The students so far have been very responsive in using Twitter (to an extent) and Flipgrid. My use of Flipgrid is entire post in itself, but so far, through week four, the students have taken a liking to the tool, and understand why I decided to integrate it into the class. I plan to evaluate the effectiveness of these tools (specifically Twitter and Flipgrid) later in the semester. I’d like to also explore further the opportunities to turn this f2f course into a hybrid course for students, and possibly an online course. 



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