Sunday, March 12, 2006

My OnlineTeaching Philosophy

At this point in my career as an online facilitator, my goal is to take the knowledge that I have acquired and use it to mold my online classes to best suit my learners. I have been a foreign language teacher in a traditional setting for many years, and while I am excited to transfer my expertise on the subject to an online setting, I understand that the differences in the instructor's involvement, methodology, and pedagogy in both online and f2f environments must be recognized and that I provide the proper accommodations. The advantages of being a facilitator in an online class, in my opinion, are that the students can take classes that meet their specific academic needs and that I, as a facilitator, am empowering the students to take control of their academic experience.

I recognize that the technology I include must fit the course so that both the students and I are not overwhelmed. I feel, as the language teacher, I must be able to integrate a variety of communicative/interactive activities in my online classes that focus on the five basic foreign language skills: speaking, reading, writing, listening and culture. While gaining experience as an online teacher, I hope to continuously introduce more effective methods for establishing myself not as a faceless entity but as a real person that is motivated in keeping her students involved. One of the most important adjustments for teaching online is making all expectations available at the beginning of the class in a syllabus. Online students must be able to understand exactly what they need to do, the reasons why, and the importance of doing it.

Enthusiasm, creativity, and being an active role model are the best characteristics that define me as a language teacher. Learning should be fun, dynamic, and always connected to students' lives, expectations, and their previous experiences.

My goal is that students learn not only about language, but also about their native language and culture, and about themselves. If students see an instructor who demonstrates a passion for the subject she is teaching, inevitably, they will be affected by this energy and will engage themselves actively in the learning process.

From the beginning of each course, I invite the students to get to know each other and myself by including an introduction forum. By finding out early on what students' particular interests are, I generally am able to bring examples of how those interests transfer into a nonnative-speaking culture. During the class, I actively participate in each thread by writing prompt feedback, modeling the behavior required in class, guiding misdirected conversations, holding my students accountable, and observing the collaboration that takes place amongst my students. I strive to create a learner-learner classroom in which peer responses promote deeper critical thinking and place the students in an active role of learning by collaborating in discussions. I encourage an open-minded attitude by explaining that everybody in the classroom is treated with respect and that no one is discriminated or treated differently based on race, gender, sexual preferences, religion, national/ethnic origin, disability, or age. I make an effort to use a variety of teaching methods that include different learning styles in my classroom to target all students toward a functional use of the language. My students know that I am committed to their satisfaction of my class by accepting suggestions that they write throughout the class and using them to make improvements.

My ultimate objective is to serve as a guide for my students and to provide them with the tools they need to communicate effectively in a second language as they prepare for the global community. I view foreign languages as an opportunity to include multicultural enrichment in academia. It is my responsibility to provide this knowledge in a comfortable and effective online learning environment to not turn them off from technology and other virtual classes. After all, distance learning has the potential to unify the world by providing education to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

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