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Final Thoughts  

Reflecting back on the workshop, what are the most important lessons learned, recommendations, or thoughts that you want to make sure are reported to the larger community. If you have next steps or follow on activities that you would like to recommend, please include them as well. Every participant should make a post to this thread by 1:30 central time on Tuesday June 29 if possible. I'll incorporate your ideas into a draft synthesis document. Thanks!!

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One of the messages I took away from Monday morning's session was that we all struggle to find good ways to incorporate student collaborations into online courses

3649:12806

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I think the most important thing I've learned so far is that there are a lot of resources out there for teaching geology online. I'm glad there are people who used some of their time in the groups compiling these resources! I feel more confident that I can teach online and incorporate some doable exercises for individual students and groups. I may even try to put our physical geology lab class online.

3649:12813

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Having never taken an online course, I really had no idea how students felt during the course. This workshop has really given me a lot of ideas for better connecting with my students online.

3649:12819

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My biggest take-aways are these: (1) I too am delighted by the amount of quality material that's already out there, and I now feel I won't have a problem incorporating meaningful exercises into my classes. (2) I've gained a new appreciation how important it is for the instructor to keep up a constant stream of communication with the students and not just assume that everyone knows what's going on and is doing okay.

3649:12821

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ditto what Sheila says about volume of online materials from which to choose. In many cases, however, it will take some work to make or adapt them to purely online asynchronous use.

3649:12824

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I've taken our university's "Online Experience" course for faculty and was not a full participant. Even at the time, I recognized that my behavior would not be acceptable to me if the roles were reversed, but I couldn't stop slacking. Mostly because I was really busy that semester, but also I knew all the folks who were participating.

This workshop has been a little more realistic because I don't know you all personally and I don't want you to go away thinking I can't pull my weight.

It's been a real eye-opener to try to interface with group member and to do meaningful group work, to learn to do things the smart way rather than the hard way, and that to stay on task with distractions is a reality.

The technology has been awesome as well. My uni's course for faculty was conducted on Blackboard. There are much more elegant solutions available, as the workshop has shown daily.

I really appreciate the opportunity to take away more than I brought to the table.

3649:12825

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I have been inspired by all of the great ideas that are available. I came into this workshop not realizing that there were high quality resources (including other faculty) available for online geology labs. I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted online labs to look like, but I did not have (and still don't) the technical background to make it happen. I did not realize that there are resources already available that come close to the vision I had.

In addition, I have one other thought that might come out of this workshop as a resource for others (especially those new to online teaching). I don't know if it would be possible, but is there a way that 'newbies' coming to view these pages could find information about mentors (those that have been teaching effectively online) who would be willing to answer some questions that may not be found in our pages? I realize we wouldn't want contact information posted directly (such as email addresses), but maybe they could fill out some sort of form that could be sent electronically to a mentor who could then contact the person with questions. I hope this makes sense as I am typing while thinking about it - I haven't chewed on it much yet.

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I’ve learned that I don’t need to “re-invent the wheel” as there are a lot of resources already available, and to not be afraid to try something new. As someone new to online teaching, I also appreciated that this workshop mimicked many of the aspects of a model online course. We had individual work, collaborative work, synchronous and asynchronous sessions, homework, discussions, deadlines, and feedback. I also learned about online learning both from being a “student” in this workshop and from an instructor’s perspective. I have also learned a lot of practical tips about techniques that work, such as providing a syllabus quiz, making sure instructions are clear, trying different delivery methods, not to be afraid to incorporate data in assignments, and providing quick feedback. All of these components will enable me to develop a more effective online course.

3649:12835

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It was very important to see what everibody is doing and the actual tendencies in online teaching.

3649:12836

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When I started developing my online courses I felt like I was all alone. I could not seem to find relevant examples and the discussions and workshops my school offered on online learning never seemed to fit with my lab-based courses. I felt that I was trying to invent something new and on the fly and it was very stressful and somewhat discouraging. In the end, I think my classes were successful after a few semesters. But... I always wanted an avenue to hear about what others were doing and to share the ideas and experiences that I had so that someone else new to online teaching did not have to feel as alone as I did. This workshop has done just that.

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I've never tried anything synchronous in my courses before because I was frightened that the logistics would be overwhelming, but the synchronous parts of this workshop have been a lot of fun so I am thinking about trying that now.

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Although I've spent a few years teaching exclusively online, I never really felt a part of a community. I was finishing a degree in one department and teaching in an adjunct status for the local community college at night and on the weekends. I've since switched employers and have a few face to face contacts, but I now feel so connected to a community of other people, doing the same thing as me in a quality way.

3649:12848

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I've really enjoyed the workshop, both because of the opportunities it has provided to discuss some of our common difficulties with online instruction and because of what you have taught me about new resources and technologies that may help us address these problems.

I have been offering courses online since 2002 and, frankly, they haven't been as successful (especially in terms of retention) as my face-to-face courses. Each semester I try to "fix" whatever caused my students difficulties the previous term, and one of the biggest lessons I'll take away from the workshop is that there are lots of options out there to help our students learn effectively online and that we don't have to be satisfied with lessons and activities that are just "okay".

The other big lesson I'm coming away with is that a student's success may depend just as much on engaging him or her as a member of a group (through discussions or collaborative activities) as it does on engaging him or her as a individual. This is something I struggle with but, again, seeing how different members of the workshop are approaching this has given me the confidence to try some new things. Thanks.

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The workshop has empowered me to do more active lessons in my on-line classes, and to move toward a public format for my classes. I have been teaching online for 15 years, but have not been part of a community of educators before. It was great to see what others are doing. I feel ready to step up some of the things I do, and to share more of what I do with others.

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The workshop has provided much food for thought on future developments in my online class, especially in regards to interactive discussions and assessment strategies.

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