A “Stranger” Hugged Me Yesterday

I took a trip to the main office recently and met four women who I have worked with for the past 6 months, but never met in person. Two of the four hugged me when they were introduced to me. What does this mean? Were they just ‘huggers’? That person-type that just can’t help themselves but to hug everyone? Is it something about women that makes them want to hug?

I don’t think it’s any of these. I’ve met with similar exuberance from men…just without the physical contact. (I suspect in a different culture there would have been hugging involved). No. I think what I experienced was how several people – who have never met in person – can form a relationship through working and learning together at a distance.
I attended an online conference today (http://www.classroom20.com/page/2012-learning-2-0-virtual-conference) at which several staff from Pittsburgh and San Jose State Universities shared the results of a study they did which measured the impact of online learning vs. in-person instruction in an inquiry-based course. They found that in many cases the online learners who were in cohorts had a very strong sense of teaching and social presence.

But this doesn’t just happen by accident. This happens when there is a considerate and planned implementation of close collaboration. When you work with – and learn from – people, you begin to forge these relationships.

How is your distance learning program decreasing the “distance” and helping people to form relationships?

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Expired Assumptions: Your Students Need You In Order To Learn

For some things, yes…they do need you. But not for everything. My oldest son needed me (and others) to help him to learn how to read and to understand the meaning of many words. But once he could read fluently, he didn’t need me to teach him that the 2011 Dodge Charger has pushes out 252 horsepower. Once you give students the ability to access information themselves, simply ensuring that they can access that information in a way that makes sense for them is sufficient in many cases.

Are you an online teacher? If so, do you REALLY need to teach live in a WebEx or Collaborate (Elluminate) lesson? Probably not. Give them good, rich, and well constructed asynchronous content to enjoy and let ’em go.

But don’t feel bad. They DO need you for a few things…like moderating vigorous discussions about what they are learning, helping them to understand the relevance of what they are (or are not) doing. Keeping them engaged and learning how to manage their time.

Let the machines do what they can do…spend your time doing the important things they can’t.

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Making a Reading List on Google Docs

A colleague recently sent me a PDF that I wanted to read…but not at that moment.
“Shucks,” I thought, “I wish I had the link to this online so I could add it to my Diigo account and mark it “Read Later”. I did a quick Google search and could not find the article online. Then a thought occurred to me…I’ll post it to my Google Docs account!

A few keystrokes later and I’d created my “Reading List” collection in Google Docs and uploaded the fine PDF to it. Now I can read it when I have a bit more time, even from my Android Atrix. Heck – I can even share it with you, my kind readers! Here’s the link…enjoy!
A Mission of the Heart: What does it take to transform a school?

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