Friday, December 13, 2013

Reflections of a Virtual Educator

As we approach the end of another year, it is worthwhile to take the time to be introspective about not only what has happened this year but also how our goals in online education have changed or need adding to. I don't believe in making New Years resolutions because that have become a tired clichee.

As an online educator, I owe it to my students to review my goals in dealing with them and their education in the coming year. So year are some of my goals for online education:
  1. My students deserve an online experience that is exciting, challenging, relevant to their lives in the world they live in and inspirational. I believe that in this present age in countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America, South America, & Africa, we are engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of young people. There are many forces in this world that are trying to shape the future. Some of these forces are beneficial and others if possessing the power lead to slavery. Young people are the focus of these efforts. As an online educator who teaches students in many countries, I need to be always aware of the cultural background and voice that my students bring to their studies. I will not teach them what to think but I will teach them how to think in ways that allows them to strive for the common good for the respective nations that they are citizens of. Sounds like a lofty and high sounding ideal doesn't it? Yet, look around at what is happening in the world today. Do we really want students who have a cynical and self-defeating view of the future that they are going to live in or do we want students who have the courage and confidence to build the future?
  2. I have found that recognizing where students are in their lives, in other words, what is important to them and how they interact with each other, has been a helpful context in reaching out to them. My sense of humour in being able to laugh with my students and not at them has been a good buffer between us and the world. I can relate to my students on a one to one basis if we can laugh together. I want to maintain that as a goal.
  3. In dealing with students I want to maintain an affirmation that what they experience as problems in their lives are real and painful to them. When there is a delay in receiving their work or the quality of their work suddenly deteriorates or drastically improves, I care enough to ask why.
  4. I want to continue to explore the idea of creating embedded virtual worlds in my world history course so that the events of world history become a living entity to them in which they participate. In the personal profile that my students see, I sort of blow away any stereotypes they may have about me as a result of my age. What they learn is that I am an avid gamer and play X-Box live games(I NEVER give out my gamer tag to my students but I constantly remind them that I can beat them anytime I choose;)), I have been involved in teaching students robotics as it relates to NASA projects which I do, to teach students that they can take a relevant and active role in real projects and I always challenge students to defend positions they take in discussions. I do believe that gaming theory does have alot to say about enhancing the virtual education experience. There are some adults who would look at my activities and suggest that I am acting childish but I think that it doesn't hurt for each of us to be able to access the child that is still part of who we are.
  5. I want to promote more discussion and dialogue in this blog. I think that this is the way that we all can grow in our understanding and experience of virtual education. There are times when I am not sure if many people actually read what is written here. However, as an explorer, it is important to take calculated risks.
  6. Lastly, I want to encourage my students to take time and turn off their computers and stop and enjoy the world in all its splendor. I think that students often have their heads so buried in social media that they truly fail to see the beauty that the world has to offer. Many great men and women have gained the inspiration to do magnificent things for the common good from taking the time to do this. This is time well spent!
Enjoy the holidays in which ever way you choose to celebrate them.
More in the new year............

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