My favorite vacation spot is on the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. I backpacked the 72 km trail a few years ago. It was an amazing experience to climb up and down ladders, scramble over the tide pools and ocean shelf at low tide, and pitch a tent on a deserted beach falling asleep to the waves crashing on the shoreline.
The last novel I read was Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence, a host on CBC Radio 3. Lawrence tells the story about his connection to the people and place of the remote Desolation Sound, where his family owned land and built a rustic cabin there in the 1970s. The tale includes a rich history of the area and hilarious stories about his quirky neighbors, occasional visitors, and wildlife.
I believe that one of the most important characteristics of high quality online learning environment is developing a safe and respectful learning community between the students and the course facilitator. I think it is also important that the course facilitator present themselves to the students as being a co-learner in the process, not the expert. I believe that this will encourage the students to be open and honest in their contribution to the course and be willing to take risks.
I will be teaching my first online learning course this fall. I have been teaching face to face courses for the last seven years and I am currently a PhD student in a distance learning program. One thing that I have learned about teaching both online and face to face is how important it is to make sure that students understand what is expected of them when submitting assignments. I have found that providing detailed instructions for course assignments online is not always sufficient. Students often do not take the time to read instructions thoroughly. I find it has been very instrumental to allow time to discuss assignments with the students and invite them to ask questions. There have been several instances in which students have had questions about things that I realized that I did not make very clear. For my PhD program, I had one instructor that held an optional conference call before each paper was due to discuss the expectations and answer questions. I found this to be extremely helpful.
At this time, the primary questions I have about teaching online deal with course content, which I have not been able to access since my course is currently being converted from Blackboard to Moodle. I feel that I am at a bit of a disadvantage in that I do not know what the reading material is or what the assignments are for the course and I am supposed to teach this course in a little over a month.