reflections On Humanizing ONLINE Learning by Mine Ucok Hughes, PhD

Hello there! This is my journey in learning how to teach online. I must admit before taking this online training (OTPP: Online Teaching Preparation Program) I have never taken an online course myself and had only just started teaching one six weeks prior to my program start date. So my initiation to online teaching was somewhat of jumping into a pool without knowing how to swim very well!

The course is taught by wonderful Michelle Pacansky-Brock who is an expert in online teaching. The course that consisted of two Modules lasted only for two weeks but I probably learned more theories, concepts, and teaching strategies than I had in the past two years! Many university professors get a training in their academic fields and even become experts but do not get pedagogical training and do not necessarily have the skills to be good teachers. Even if they did, one needs to keep up with the latest changes in technology.

Learning about new software that takes online teaching/learning to another level was probably the most exciting aspect of this course for me. In the short period of two weeks I have learned to better use Voice Thread, leave comments and reply to comments posted by others and create cool videos by Adobe Spark (like the one you can see below). Please see this page for more wonderful tools that help an instructor create a much more interesting and engaging course online, in-person, or hybrid.

But, most importantly I learned some very important concepts and pedagogical theories not only pertinent to an online course but also to an in-person classroom environment. My biggest take away is the importance of instructor's social presence. To be available to students when they need you and to respond emails promptly are key to establishing good student-instructor relations. Empathy, is another concept that was emphasized. The one reading that stuck with me the most is where a teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns. I'd strongly suggest you read it here.

OTPP was designed around a lot of asynchronous student interactions. Many of our assignments required us to post comments, listen to each other's comments and reply to them. I feel like I got to know my classmates in a short period of time. I also learned from their comments. Having to respond to them made me think more about the topics.

I definitely feel like this course has already made me a better teacher in-person and online and has certainly given me lots of great ideas for my next online course. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to take this course and can't wait for the next modules to come.


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