Reflections of an online class….Learning is Messy but Good

Trying to Find a Place to Do My Class

This image tells the story of my online/face2face class. My students requested the chance to meet face to face. I obliged. So I slated our regular Tuesday meeting to be held at a local pub in downtown Moose Jaw. Our province has now created the largest wireless network in Canada and I thought it would be nice to take advantage of this ala Ewan Mcintosh’s Teach/Meet concept.

Nice idea right? Well as the image above suggests, it was not quite the smooth evening I’d hoped for. After struggling to find a suitable place, we ended up at my superintendent’s home who is auditing my class. Those who were only online kept things going by having a nice discussion. Anne Davis so graciously chatted with students as we got set up.

Once set up, we struggled with some technical issues around sharing IP addresses and sound issues. Anne Davis shared her thoughts about the invisible web and then David Jakes and Alan Levine talked about and Twitter. As expected, they added great flavour and value to the concept of social networking and these tools in particular. If you’re interested, here’s the recording.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Everyone loves when the teacher/geek/computer guy has technical issues. I do this more than I’d like but it’s always a big thrill for others.
  • Face to face is important. As I learned from experience at BLC, meeting face to face adds a deeper connection with those I already known. Somehow, they’ve moved from online peers to friends. Meeting my students now adds added value to my class. I’m suggesting a class party in Regina later next week….those unable to attend might be able to drop in via Skype.
  • Online learning can be more social than face to face. As one of them told me last night, they have more of a connection with their classmates in this class than most face to face classes. In face to face settings, rarely do they know what each other is learning. The connections are superficial. Here, there is an accountability factor. If you’re not doing your work, others know. We contribute to each other’s learning. We’re responsible to prop each other up.
  • I have a great network. Having the likes of Anne Davis, Alan Levine and David Jakes, not to mention prior visits from Wes Fryer, Jeff Utecht and Alec Couros, I not teaching alone. We’re teaching each other. These people model the generosity and genuine love of teaching and learning that my students hope to be as they enter the teaching field. (Next week, I have the Dream Team)

So despite the screw-ups and poor organization on my behalf, it worked. Mostly because those attending understand as Brian Crosby says….Learning is Messy.


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  • Dean, I hope your students know how incredibly lucky they are to have you as their prof/instructor! What a great experience for them…. I wish all our teacher education programs could have innovative leaders like you, showing new pre-service teachers these new digital ropes! 🙂

  • Gillian Young

    Wow Dean, it sounds like Tuesday was quite eventful. I appreciate that you seem to be doing as much learning and problem solving as we are and that really makes this feel like more of a ‘community of learners’ then I have ever experienced in a classroom setting. I also would have appreciated seeing a little struggle (I might have loved it) because you know, it just makes us all feel more equal, even if you are the geek, I mean computer guy (Lol).

  • Ronda

    Hi Dean,
    great time on Tuesday night! It was awesome to get together.

    My favourite moment was when you had both hands on the side of your head – holding on in frustration!!
    Now thats a candid moment.

    This has been a really great class and I am so glad I signed up for it.

    You are simply amazing with all that you know! Keep up the great work!

  • Hi Dean,

    Love the comment about how online learning can be more social than face-to-face. I agree about the accountibility factor. In addition, I hear from customers that the online environment is also a great equalizer that gives some more confidence to interact and contribute than they would have in the classroom.

    Also wanted to let you and your students know that Elluminate vRoom is available. It’s a free, 3-seat version of Elluminate Live! It’s a great way to use the technology for small group and one-on-one sessions. And there’s no time limit. Just go to

    Keep up the good (online) work!

    – Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication

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