I'm learning as I teach (Techniques and Technology: teaching online with Moodle) and if you have any tried and true techniques for encouraging online participation - forum posts and assignment completion - I could use them. This is the 1 room school house - beginners, intermediate and 1 advanced participant - and I'm tap-dancing right about now.
I know what I want to teach, and in what order.
What I don't know is how to aim the material when 1 participant hasn't been able to open a menu, choose an item and fill in three text boxes (and click on save) and another is playing with features we won't talk about until next month...

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Hello Sarah
What has now evolved into Friendly learning Circles started in about 2000 as a way to support learning in an off-campus on-line program in which people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and with a wide range of previous experience, learned sometimes the same and sometimes different subjects/units at the same time.

A project based approach to learning can be useful, where each student has a different, self-defined project related to the coursework, and uses his or her learning project to structure learning, drawing on the learning resources you provide. When I taught coursework on-line

In a 15-week semester (12 weeks tuition plus three weeks to complete assignments and assessment tasks) I asked students to answer a set of questions for reflection (Q4R) in Weeks 1, 4, 8 12, and 16. These were compulsory but not assessed. The format of the Q4R varies a little with context etc, but is basically similar to:
1. What is the title of my learning project/subject/unit
2. What did I plan to do since my last Q4R
3. What did I actually do since my last Q4R
3. What can I learn from this experience?
4. What help can I ask for?
You could devise your own set of questions. I now have experience using these Q4R in on-line coursework, research education and f2f quaker studies. Happy to share more info if it seems useful.

Hope this makes sense
In friendship, Ian
I am realizing that one mistake I made was in not being clear that students needed an idea of what to teach. When I offer the course again I will certainly clarify that. And I may offer a set of "seed" material on a topic, perhaps Intro to Quakerism, so that those who have no experience in creating (or borrowing) content can more easily learn the mechanics...

I like the idea of periodic "self checks" and will add that to my bag of tricks!

Thanks
Sarah
Yeah.
I guess it is always important to be clear about what the central focus or key concept is. My experience is that students learn better if the I as teacher am clear about one thing and only one thing I would like them to learn, then leave them free to learn other incidental or less central things. In your course, the central focus seems to be the mechanics, or technological steps rather than either the course content or a Quakerly approach to on-line learning that is the focus. So providing a library of coursework documents, images, questions and so forth would simply remove course content as an issue in this course. In teaching many people are side-tracked into concern over content, rather than the process of learning and providing content may also reduce that tendency.

Thanks for sharing your experience
Ian

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