One of the most important things I have learned about developing an effective online course is the potential different modes can have for really transformative learning. I was struck by George Siemen’s Connectivist learning theory, and how it addresses learning in the digital age (2005). From this perspective, Stephen Downes explained “to teach is to model and demonstrate, to learn is to practice and reflect” (2007). Downes succinct, but meaningful definition of roles within Connectivist theory is now one of my new favorite quotes and going forward I am using it as my mantra for making the shift to teaching online.
For me I have been thinking more and more about how we can use our current situation to improve education. To put it bluntly, I don’t want to go back to the way we taught before. I am excited by the possibilities for accessibility and innovation, teaching online could offer us. Yes, it will be challenging, but to Downes point, I think right now instructors need to be modelling resiliency for students. Many students are facing unprecedented challenges right now and I want to be able to demonstrate adaptability for them. It may have seemed radical at the time he wrote it, but in our current COVID-19 volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, times, “Chaos is the new reality for knowledge workers” (2005). I never would have taken the plunge into teaching online or registered for this course otherwise. Fortunately I have realized, according to Siemen’s his fourth Connectivist principle, my “Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known” (2005).