Back to work – Spring term is here!

Posted on January 10, 2012 by

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For many folks reading this blog, the new year brings on a new academic term and along with it big dreams for making this term’s courses better than ever before!  At least that is the way I have always entered a new term.  But true to the reality of life, the things we do to change our courses for the better may or may not have the hoped-for result!  Each groupBooks and Computer of students brings new challenges, and even for those of us with years of experience, we can only hope that our dreams for each course will come to pass!

This year, after several semesters of “retirement” from teaching, I am once again entering the classroom – this time a hybrid course that is to be taught on the east coast.  This means that to accomplish the “on site” parts, I will fly from one coast to the other.  The online portions will be a bit more convenient in terms of physical demands, but the uncertainties of online experiences bring special demands.  Since I know that others involved with this blog are also teaching hybrid or 100% online, I thought I would start a kind of “diary” of reflections on how this course is progressing!

Since I only agreed to do this course a couple of weeks ago and the details are not fully worked out yet, I do not have much to share along the line of specifics.  However, I can share some of the “hopes” I have for this course, and we will see how it all turns out!

This is one of the last courses in the sequence of doctoral courses, focusing on theoretical underpinnings for scholarly work in nursing.  I have asked the students to convene on site for two “intensive” sessions – one early in the semester, and the other near the end.  These will hopefully cover an afternoon or evening, followed the next day by a day or so of time together.  I am hoping that these intensive times together will help everyone to engage in one another’s work, create a collegial “community” in which each individual shares ideas, thoughts, critical feedback and resources.  The context I hope to create is one in which there is trust, a feeling of openness to one another’s ideas and challenges, and a level of comfort in which we can all share our opinions and ideas in the interest of helping one another to grow in our scholarly capacity.  It may not be necessary to have the on site experience to achieve this, but based on my own experiences in the past, if this is to happen at all, I think it has a greater chance of coming to pass in an on site context.

Having said that, I also believe that the on line context also provides an avenue through which people can share ideas and responses more candidly than is possible in a face-to-face context, particularly when there is considerable risk of being rejected by others.  My most memorable experiences along this line happened when i first started teaching online courses, and found that students with minority views tended to be much more willing to “speak up” on line than I had even experienced in an on site context.  For example, this happened around issues of race several times, when a student from a minority group challenged the predominantly middle-class white interpretations that were dominating our online discussion.

So fundamentally, I have great hopes that a hybrid approach to this course will create a dynamic, challenging, stimulating, and yet safe and growthful experience for all .. myself included!  I will post updates along the way!  If you are having similar experiences, let us know!

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