Humanizing Online Learning An online reflection from my online course about online courses Karen Lang

My story in the course

Before my interview to work at CI, I updated my teaching philosophy and composed this for its start: My approach to teaching encompasses the values of active learning, community belonging, assessment across the learning process, student agency, and inclusive teaching-learning. A hallmark of my classes is hospitality that respects students and invites all voices to engage…They are invited to bring their interests and curiosity to the course and to build on prior knowledge. Soon after my first semester at CI, I took a professional development course in humanizing online learning resulting in this reflection. When one of the tips for instruction included boosting instructor presence by sharing my teaching philosophy, I cringed a little. I really don’t embody my teaching philosophy in many noticeable ways online. I let the restriction of it being just a 1-unit course and my own MO to get on and off the computer as quickly as possibly strip the course of professor presence and social presence, two elements that are key to students’ sense of belonging and experiencing deep learning. I’ve always believed that the hospitable instruction I rely on to facilitate energized classrooms has been the key to my teaching career—I love teaching and I believe I’m my best self in the classroom. But, I’m a little stunned how much I’m a shadow of myself in my online course. The class just isn’t social or vital.

Essential Take-Aways

The statement from the training course that “learning is social” took on a new energy to me when I thought about it in the context of an online class. This course has reinforced my values for UDL, especially in encouraging students to package and report their learning in forms that make sense for them and in connecting the course content to their personal interests. I’ve been prompted to cross-apply what I value about empathy and to infuse it in my class in order to foster connection resulting in deeper learning. I need to both view the course through students’ eyes and allow myself to convey my feelings, offering a non-robot complexity to the course where as a prof, I am not overly polished or avoiding mistakes. I should be engaged and in tune with the students' experiences and sharing my own experience and ways the course is also shaping me.

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karen lang


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