I over think things often. Sometimes it comes in handy, but more often than not, it’s a hindrance. So, I’m going to go ahead and jump in with this.
I have been fortunate to have a lot of great instructors in college. I can’t really speak to training I’ve received in in-services and whatnot because honestly, I haven’t yet found them to be real pertinent or interesting. I’m excited about starting to attend more conferences, soon. I think if I’m choosing some of my own professional development activities, I am going to find them to be more relevant to what I’m doing or hope to do.
That is kind of beside the point, though, except it’s not. An instructor can be absolutely stellar, but if the information isn’t something you can use or apply or enjoy, then whatever the techniques they use, they may not be effective. Moving on to instructors that were presenting information that I could use or apply or enjoy, however, for the sake of keeping things pretty brief…
Boise State’s online MET program has been pretty excellent. The instructors have exhibited that they care about having their students succeed. Some of the most valuable tools we have used have been video chat and discussion forums. For me, education does stem from collaboration on some level. It doesn’t have to be collaboration on a particular project, but being able to hash things out w/ other people is important.
In ET501, the instructor utilized an Adobe virtual meeting room to hold optional, synchronous meetings with us. I liked that they were optional and that we had enough information coming at us from other mediums (video, audio, text – she was great). If we chose to attend, though, it was a good way to feel like we were talking to real people and get to know our instructor a bit better. In the same class, we had to collaborate on a couple of projects with some classmates. My group members and I chose to collaborate via Google+ and took advantage of their “Hangout” option. While this didn’t include options for screen sharing or text at the time (that I was aware of), it was fun to be able to put faces with names and talk to my classmates in the same way I would have if we were all taking a face-to-face class together.
In all of my online classes, at Boise State, Portland Community College, San Diego State and as an instructor for another community college, discussion forums have proven to be invaluable. Part of that is for the same reason that video chat was useful – getting to know and collaborate with the instructor and your classmates. Another part of that was having a record of all of the dialogue. You can always return to old threads and reread something or reply to things that appear in the middle of the thread somewhere. I don’t know – sometimes they can get a little convoluted, but I really do think it’s a super useful tool.
In my face-to-face classes, the best techniques used by my instructors included infectious enthusiasm and unwavering support of us. I excelled in my final math class as an undergraduate because my instructor (who also happened to have been my advisor for 4+ years) loved the material so much and wanted us to love it, too. He had more energy than the dog I have, now, which is probably why I have finally been able to come to terms with having a dog that bounces off the walls. But I digress.
In addition to being a force to be reckoned with in the classroom, my complex analysis prof kept his office open to us whenever he was on campus. Being accessible is a great technique for instructors to use. The ET501 instructor also did a great job of being accessible – we could text, call or email her anytime. Of course, she couldn’t always talk to us right when we contacted her, but she always got back to us, and could also set up additional Adobe meetings if we needed them.