The reading for the COI was definitely the most challenging thus far. I found myself re-reading a lot with the article and struggling with the wordiness of it. The graphic showing social, cognitive, and teaching presence was the most helpful for me and I found myself referring to it often. Having a strong connection between the three of these is the best way to shorten transactional distance. For me, the concept of social presence was the most critical. Two categories the authors mentioned within social presence were “open communication” and “group cohesion”. I identify with the idea that as course participants, we are all in this together with a common goal of learning the content presented, but also sharing how we can incorporate this into our professional lives. I think the transactional distance is shortened when a network of students is created that we are all invested in.
As I am thinking more about the creation of my learning model, I feel like a hybrid course instead of strictly online is my only option. My students will be volunteer participants and while I am hopeful they will be willing and active in the sessions, that is not always the case. For this reason and since a grade requirement won’t be attached to my course, my teaching presence will have to be more structured and more face-to-face. The content for the course will not be brand new information and I hope to be reinforcing what their classroom teachers are already telling them so it will be less about them retaining specific facts and content as it will be about developing skills and attitudes related to learning. It is through social presence that I hope to get the most of my student involvement. In person, they might be embarrassed to be in this type of group setting and not as willing to contribute, but through online discussions and some interactive options (that I haven’t figured out yet) I am looking to get more involvement.
The only personal experience I have that comes close to this is the use of Blackboard as a discussion tool with some of my graduate courses. Using Blackboard was a way to connect social, cognitive, and teaching presences much in the same way we use these blog posts. Reflecting on the content of the course while connecting with other students and receiving teacher feedback contributed to the overall educational experience of the course.