Slice of Life 13: Weather or Not, the Sequel
By Janice Ewing
Last night we had our first face-to-face grad class of the semester, having had the first session online due to tons of snow in Philadelphia. I had been wondering what the effect would be of meeting on a discussion board before meeting in person. (This was the subject of Slice of Life 3: Weather or Not.) During our online conversation they had seemed to be a friendly and reflective group. Our discussion had centered around the elements of positive learning communities for children as well as for adult learners. Many teachers pointed out the similarities between the two, while some reflected on differences as well. As in any discussion, having different views enriched the conversation and stretched our thinking. What stood out to me the most in the conversation about adult learners was that several mentioned their grad class as an example of a positive learning community. This is one of the advantages of this particular program; the teachers go through as a cohort, and, in most cases, form strong and sometimes lasting bonds.
So, preparing for our first face-to-face class, I was looking forward to meeting everyone and connecting faces to posts. They turned out to be a very friendly group in person, as they had seemed to be online. We did some problem-solving around meeting specific course requirements within ‘testing season,’ and other issues. I noticed that teachers jumped in with suggestions for others, in a natural and collegial way. This was clearly their norm. It was also clear that they had a familiarity with each other’s teaching contexts, which allowed for this support to be specific and relevant, probably more than mine was. Through the course of the evening, I found myself getting to know them better as a group and as individuals. It seemed as though our previous discussion flowed easily into our current one. So, based on a very unscientific study, my finding was that meeting online before meeting in person can be very beneficial, weather or not!
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.
It was great to read that all went well with the on-line and face to face meeting. It sounds like a very engaged and supportive group that will become even more so under your tutelage. I really like that you used the on-line venue to gain class time, but you used it to foster community. Love your posts!
I love online discussions; I should encourage them more with my middle schoolers. The quiet students often get more involved, and sometimes the more vocal face-to-face students “speak” less. Perhaps the hybrid mix helps us all find our own space. Glad the transition from online to face-to-face went well for your group.
That is so good to hear! It sounds like your group got a jump start on forming a community from your online conversation. I hope your class continues to learn and grow together.
I got both of my Master’s degrees via a cohort model. At Lewis & Clark it was nearly all very traditional except for one 50/50 online/in-person class. I absolutely loved every minute of my schooling there!
With my master’s through Framingham I had a cohort but some of the classes were online and some of the were 50/50. I realized that while a few days worth of classes don’t bother me, I MUCH prefer classes to be in person. I just need that personal interaction with people that isn’t the same online.
It is important to know what works for us as learners I guess!
Janice, the teachers in your cohort-group class illustrate the social and collegial aspect of learning. I’ve often heard the expression, “the smartest person in the room is the room.” The teachers learning in that positive atmosphere will undoubtedly create a similar climate for their own students. As we learn, so shall we teach.
That’s a great finding, Janice!
I remember seeing a URL for the first time when I was a sophomore in college. I couldn’t imagine what that was. Now classes are online! IT’s amazing how far we’ve come in a generation!
Interesting! Online learning has changed so much over the last 10 years. I have taken lots of online courses during that time, and when I completed the most recent one last Spring, I thought a lot about how different it was, and not just because of the technology. Communicating somewhat anonymously online has become so normal!