As my PhD journey goes on, I have been continuing to attempt to define myself in the educational field. It is an ever-changing journey, though. As I check my definition as an educational researcher and a learning technologist earlier, I start to think: what if I consider myself as an online learning theorist and practitioner?
I was a lecturer of a Chinese university, who has six-year teaching experience in the face-to-face traditional classroom context, in a traditional Chinese higher education institution. Since I started my teaching assistantship work in the Learning Technologies program in the United States, I was automatically transferred from the traditional classroom setting to the online education context, without fully trained and supported. Fortunately, I took a graduate-level online course on building online learning community at my first year in my PhD program, with an experienced online instructor who has over ten years of online teaching experiences within higher education contexts and has received national attention for her masterful online pedagogical skills. This online learning experience embarked my journey on studying instructors’ online pedagogy development that could help them improve the effectiveness of online teaching and learning.
I have been thinking about how people learn online? What we online educators and practitioners can do to help learners learn better online? As an online instructor in the higher education context, we usually only have one semester to facilitate an online course. What we can do? designing a fancy online platform? Providing interesting and useful learning materials? building a more engaging community for students to interact and collaborate?
I have been recently immersed myself in the readings of the transformative learning. Transforms may happen in the individual’s cognitive level, or in the individual’s intuitive, emotional, spiritual level, as well as the societal change level. Can it be integrated into online education? How can it be studied in online education contexts?