Teaching is a solitary profession. Obviously students are involved and social processes are needed for discussion on important topics, but the *act* of teaching is solitary. Part of my interest in open online courses is the prospect of the internet thinning classroom walls and reducing barriers to teaching and learning opportunities. Educators need to get past the isolating view of teaching as a one-to-many activity.
As I’m transitioning into my new role at Athabasca as a faculty member in the Centre for Distance Education, I’m reminded of how much of the teaching process requires the educator to think and act alone. In the late 90′s/early 2000′s, while at Red River College, I found the biggest benefit of blogging was that I could connect with others who were exploring edtech and new pedagogies. Today, with the availability of numerous social media tools, educators have many opportunities to collaborate and share teaching activities.
There is simply no compelling reason to teach alone. If you’re teaching intro to psychology, find a fellow prof at a different university and teach together. If you’re teaching math for grade 8 students, find another math teacher and share teaching. The educators and the students all benefit.
Open online courses are great for the multi-teacher voice. I’ve made it a habit of dragging poor hapless souls along on any courses that I teach (David Wiley’s open online course takes the same “thou shalt teach with others” approach). Frictions periodically arise, but generally, the experience of bringing together classrooms (or just opening them up) has produced richer learning experiences. Most importantly, I still see social interactions between individuals that first connected in CCK08.