Online Class #2 and why I love it

I started teaching my second online class at the University of Regina.(in large part due to the recommendation from Alec Couros)  Last summer I taught my first, totally online save for an optional face to face meeting. This class was scheduled to be a face to face class, students thought it was going to be face to face and found out tonight, that was changed. (a strike late last year of administrative workers and others likely meant course offerings were not updated and thus the confusion). I didn’t know, they didn’t know but think I managed to convince them it would be a good thing and after some dry runs of the technology, establishment of their shiny new blogs, we’re ready to take off and learn.

I’m so looking forward to this. I love this stuff, I’m passionate about it and  I live it everyday. I’m excited to be able to watch and learn, share and teach with largely a group of first year pre-service education students. Here’s are the main themes of this course:

  • Learning is social and connected
  • Learning is personal and self-directed
  • Learning is shared and transparent
  • Learning is rich in content and diversity

So much of the work I do in my day job is similar in all but one key way…TIME. Even the best case scenarios allow teachers 4 or 5 days a year for professional learning of this nature. How can they possibly begin to do the kind of learning and thinking that my students will do? We will meet every week for a few hours, they will spend hours on their own and with each other learning. We will be in constant communication. The teachers that I work with must try and carve out time after work to begin to reflect and embrace the idea of a changing classroom. Ever see the video of building a plane while it’s flying? Perfect analogy for today’s teachers. My students get to build it on the ground where it’s supposed to be.

This is not so much me reflecting on how hard it is for teachers to have the opportunity to learn but more on how excited I am to be able to spend some quality time helping these young people consider how they’ll be able to create spaces that are fun, engaging, personal, relevant and authentic. Those aren’t buzz words for me either, I really try to foster that in all the work I do. It’s not easy all the time but it’s what I believe is important. What makes it hardest is not being able to spend the time to really get it. That’s what it’s like for most teachers and I have to find ways to live with that. I can’t expect big things from a teacher who is already maxed out from a day filled with all kinds of distractions, duties and stresses that at times deplete their energy down to almost nothing.  So I make adjustments, try to support them in small ways, give them bite sized chunks of ideas and because most are smart and want to be better, they do pretty well. But most will say to me over and over, “I just wish I had more time”.  This phrase is echoed throughout the walls of most schools on the planet.

But for the next four months, I get to work with people who have the time; not the expertise, not the experience but the time. It’s gonna be good.

Update: Another surprise to me was that many of my students are Arts Education students so if you know of some great teachers of arts education (music,dance,drama and visual art) showcasing their work via blogs, wikis, podcasts, whatever, leave the link here….it would be greatly appreciated.

Technorati Tags: ,

Facebook Comments

2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • Good for you! To be so jazzed about teaching a new course 🙂 I love that feeling, too. And thanks for the reminders about working with teachers. They are so busy with everything already and sometimes I get so frustrated when they don’t embrace new technologies like I think they should. Have a great semester and good luck to you.

  • Your blog is very beautiful, I too like the
    I would like to pay you and friends!

  • cat

    I really like your blog!

  • Pingback: Online Class #2 and why I love it | Technology()

  • I would love to be where you are at and have 4-5 days of time. I am the only one doing this here so no instruction (I am ahead of the curve of the teacher coach and she is great in brainstorming with me some authentic ideas). Our two days are district meetings and meaningless (feel like one of my students). I consider you and others my professional development.

  • Jean

    A site well worth checking – Kim Flintoff –

  • Dean, you give a good insight into the reality of the teacher and why they are so slow to adopt. That key word “TIME”. So many see tech as another helping heaped on to their already full plate. The teachers have a hard time managing what they already have to work through and by the end of the day, I think many are too dazed to even begin to try to figure this out. On the bright side, many are starting to realize that this world exists, and a few even feel guilty that they haven’t embraced it. Your students are lucky. Especially the first years. If they end up really getting it, these tools will put them so much ahead of their peers over the next 4 years. Your students will have a competitive advantage.

  • Hi Dean…

    I have just started working with our art teacher to develop a virtual art gallery to celebrate student work…

    This is my second year of teaching two undergrad educational technology courses at UNB as well…a wonderful experience…a blend of f2f and distance learning…and synchronous and asynchronous environments…use polycom for A/V and SMART Tech’s Brigit to screen share resources for real time classes…works great…check out the class wiki at

    See you virtually at Arapahoe next week! (I’m on after you…will be watching!)


  • Inspiring, Dean — as much for your love of teaching as for the missionary appeal of the content. I’ve got a feeling your enthusiasm and the inherent relevance of the course is going to result in some very strong investments by your students. They’ll spend a lot more time on your class than many/most others. Go get ’em!

  • In response your request for referrals, I’ve been impressed by the online evidence of the engaging work of an elementary art teacher by the name of Mrs. F(uglestad). She’s posted a great set of videos on Teachertube ( Her website, which contains a link to her blog is here:

  • Maria Knee in New Hampshire started this blog for classes to share the visual art around the theme of hearts.

  • Hi Dean,

    It was an interesting thing to stumble upon your blog when I was looking at student blogs from somewhere in Maine! I recognized your name right away as you left a comment with encouragement and suggestions on my blog over a year ago when I had just started it after a helpful PLC get-together at Peacock. I was teaching in Coronach at the time, but have moved since then. I have to say that starting that blog was just the beginning then, but more recently I’ve started taking the blog and related tasks and challenging myself with them, finding new ways to make them more useful and engaging for students. At the last school I was at, they were really turned onto it and it became a very prominent teaching tool for me. I’ve just started at another school and am still waiting to see how they react, but the amount of “technology in [my] classroom” is growing and I think I’m being careful with it. I’ll admit I am nervous in this new school and hope the families and students find it a positive thing and there is no (or little) negative. (Some people get nervous with new things, and, after reading a few posts, I see you’ve faced a bit of the negative challenges too.)

    I wanted to reconnect, just so you could be encouraged that someone who started out in this direction came from your school division, but I have a question of you that I’m hoping you can give advise on.

    I see that you embed a lot of youtube videos as well, but how on earth do you get them to play without those annoying “related videos” popping up after it’s finished playing? Sometimes, the related videos are okay and acceptable, but on more occasions than not they are inappropriate material that I don’t want accessible through my website. I notice that you’re on a different blog provider. I would prefer to stay with wordpress, as I am comfortable and really enjoy the look and functions provided. Is there any plug in or something that prevents the extra videos from coming, or possibly something to program on the youtube side of things?

    I’m glad I came across your blog site. That’s an interesting idea, to print out your blog. lol I appreciate the photo of it.

    Marcy Waldner

  • Pingback: Pages tagged "helpful"()

  • Thanks for sharing

  • Thanks for such a great post. I have been guilty of being a lurker around your blog. I guess I always felt a little bit intimidated as I was basically a newbie and felt my thoughts didnt really matter. I have come around though recently and feel like I have something to contribute.