Please note: This blog post is a course related assessment for the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads University.
“Learning is not safe. In fact, to learn is to take a risk, to become an aerialist, to put your head in the lion’s mouth. Learning is a death-defying act. And though it takes place largely within the confines of silent classrooms and sterile learning management systems, within the mind of the learner, riots can occur.” (Morris, 2016, para. 40)
We are professors in post-secondary education, teaching in the fields of skilled trades and digital technology. As we worked through the design thinking process, we found that we resonated with each other’s solutions. Throughout the design thinking process, we were able to empathize with our student’s experiences and build upon each other’s ideas.
As we look to provide hybrid learning opportunities for our students, through online and face to face interactions, we believe it is important that learners become actively engaged.
Throughout the design thinking process, we identified three common themes:
- Building community in an online environment.
- Safety in asking for, and providing feedback in an online environment.
- Using educational technologies to promote student interaction and engagement.
Based upon these themes, our problem statement became: It is difficult to build an OLC where members feel safe to collaborate and share experiences.
The first activity of the course will be an introduction using Flipgrid, a video-based discussion application that promotes student engagement and discussion. Flipgrid allows an instructor to set a discussion topic and then allows students to respond via video (Flipgrid, 2018). Studies have shown that video-based discussions (VBD) have increased interaction over text-based discussions. As noted by Clark, Strudler and Grove (2015) in their study on video vs. text-based discussion tools,
Students also indicated the VED video conferencing tool made collaboration much easier
and more productive as it was possible to “know” your group-mates’ strengths and
weaknesses. The video features of the VED provided the ability to see both verbal and
non-verbal social cues, helping develop feelings of trust and belonging. (p. 60)
Flipgrid allows for asynchronous video interactions between students, providing risk-taking and a safe form of interaction due to the students not having to interact in real time.
Instructions will be provided to the student to introduce themselves on video in the private Flipgrid grid, with the professor providing an initial exemplar post and technical assistance if required.
In their introductions, the students will share challenges they may have faced in previous online learning and how those challenges were overcome. If this is their first experience in an online environment, the students can express any fears or concerns that they may have participating in an online community. After posting, the students will be encouraged to provide video feedback on two other posts. This could be in the form of a question, a statement, an affirmation, or encouragement.
In our discussions throughout the design thinking process, we both agreed that engagement starts with a sense of safety and that sense of safety can come from empathy and understanding from both the instructor and fellow students. Black, Sanders and Dandavate, and Buchenau and Fulton Suri (as cited in Mattelmaki, Vaajakallio & Koskinen, 2014) discuss that “The more a designer can live and experience the user’s emotions, the better she can transform the ideas and constraints into appealing and pleasing design solutions” (p.70).
We ask for feedback on the preceding activity and the following questions:
- Given the opportunity to work asynchronously, will students feel safe to engage?
- Will this model work in the context of the outlined courses?
- Will students who are not technically proficient find this a barrier to engagement?
We will be replying to all responses we receive before 4 p.m. on Tuesday December 04, 2018 (Pacific Time).
Clark, C., Strudler, N., & Grove, K. (2015). Comparing Asynchronous and Synchronous Video vs. Text Based Discussions in an Online Teacher Education Course. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 19(3), 48-69. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1067484.pdf
Flipgrid. (n.d.). Flipgrid Home Page. Retrieved November 26, 2018, from https://flipgrid.com
Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What Happened to Empathic Design? Design Issues, 30(1), 67–77. https://doi.org/10.1162/DESI_a_00249
Morris, S. (2016, August 16). Not Enough Voices, [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://hybridpedagogy.org/not-enough-voices/