A chance to interact with our course instructor and course mates. #socialpresence

This is a direct follow-up from my previous blog post on LTLO. Attending the synchronous meeting (done via MS teams) at 11pm on a friday night was somewhat strange but the experience was pleasant. What is it that is making LTLO’s learning experience so enjoyable? To find out its “secret sauce”, let’s recap on my experience a bit more.

So, I finally got to interact with our course inspirer, Dan, our facilitators Angelo, Stacey, our main instructor, Dr Cleveland Innes as well as some classmates from around the world. I found it fun that during the introduction all course mates were able to share a bit about where they were at, and how the local weather was at the time of this virtual meeting. E.g. Jolene was tuning in from a busy cafe around lunch time, I could almost smell the coffee coming from where she was sitting… ok, I am exaggerating a little, but you see how much I was enjoying this experience!

A chance to interact with our course instructor and course mates. #socialpresence

Angelo used mentimeter to gauge how we felt about online learning. Right smack in the middle was “Complex”. How fitting. Online learning may seem simple. However, to make the online learning experience enjoyable and meaningful (i.e. you actually learn a transferable skill) requires a lot of planning and preparation by facilitators. It is anything but simple.

Angelo using audience response system (mentimeter) to get real time feedback. #engagement

COI – Social Presence

The part that most got me thinking was when Dr Cleveland Innes shared about the ,CoI framework. In particular, when she explained about the Social Presence. I reflected on my experience supporting digital learning back when I was working at TTSH.

Over the years, there were hits and misses but in hindsight most of the successful courses / initiatives came because learners were engaged with either the instructors / facilitators / digital learning team. One of the key things that our team did right was building on the social presence (we didn’t know about this back then) and creating a sense of connection with the ground staff. The EBA that was built up over the years helped immensely when our digital learning team was driving the microlearning initiative back in 2019.

Borrowing this screenshot from my ex-colleague’s (Thanks Hwee Chin!) FB account. Nicely encapsulated in her captions, it’s the people that makes the difference. Social again.

Our department even wore matching jerseys! Go Arsenal!

Back to the title of this blog post. Previously, I shared that ,LTLO is very nicely structured. It has just the right amount of content released each week to allow learners to digest portions at a time. There is a good mix of different interactivity tools integrated seamlessly into the Canvas LMS’s built-in forums. Then finally seeing & interacting with my course instructors, facilitators and other course mates was icing on the cake.

It really got me thinking that the secret sauce is the “social-presence”.

Dan highlighted at some point that it was essential that LTLO be delivered as a facilitated-MOOC. Left on its own, learners are less likely to stay engaged. So although Dr Cleveland Innes mentioned that all 3 components are equally important, I am currently leaning towards “social-presence” having a heavier weightage in terms of keeping motivation high for online learners. To me, that’s LTLO’s secret sauce!

The COI framework

Over the weekend, I wondered if there was anything else I could do to help this new community of online learners know each other? So, I created this ,Miro board.

Password-proected. Only sharing it with my ITLO course mates, sorry!

There are just a few simple rules:

  • Step 1. Find any person(s) on the board.
  • Step 2. Share 2 or 3 things about that person(s).
  • Step 3. Add stickies, symbols or pictures to your person(s) to describe that person.
  • Step 4. Find your own name and add your own pic or any fav photo.

Hopefully, this helps everyone to interact and know each other. I will be sharing this in a forum post and see how it goes. If it sticks, does that mean I added an ingredient to the secret sauce? 🙂

To summarise, I was already having a lot of fun at the LTLO forums. However, seeing my instructors / course mates, and interacting with them in real time was a different level of enjoyment. It was close to midnight by the time the meeting was done, but I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t realise how fast time went by. Looking forward to causing more “commotion” at the forums and seeing my course mates at the next synchronous session!

Benedict Chia

17 Sep 2022

What is LTLO’s secret sauce?