Online Teaching Strategy

Galleri Sulegaarden, Assens, Denmark:

"The in between"

Using Learning Circles as a Strategy for Group Work in Online College and University Courses

Learning circles can be used in any online teaching course to place the students in distributed leadership working groups. Learning circles produce a product around a theme with different subparts. The circle participants will be engaged in all subparts but different circle members will lead the group for each of the subparts. Ideally, the completion of the circle will result in a product that has been externalized and saved so that others can learn and benefit from the work of the circle.

This means that the online professor will need to do some thinking about creating projects that accomplish these dual objectives.

    1. Embedded Assessment: In order to do the project well, the students will have had to acquire knowledge and skills that make up the curriculum of the course.

    2. Valued Outcome: The product that the students are creating can be used by others to learn.

So if the course was a history course, the students might be making an online resource that will help other students make sense of the time period. For example, one learning circle might be making a film or theater guide to staging plays during the time period being studied. What would people wear, eat, and see? what types of settings would be authentic? What events would need to be in the background? What would people be talking about? How would they travel, and send messages? Each circle member might lead the part of circle work that addressed one of these questions. For a math class, a teacher might have students create a set of mini video lessons that would help students who were having trouble with the concepts that were being learned. The circle can brainstorm the nature of the problems that students have and each circle member leads the group in creating the learning tools. The different projects might create a metaphor to add understanding, or place the problems in real-world situations and illustrate how math solves the problems. In both of these examples, a valued resource is created and the students would need to know the course content to create the resources.

I presented Learning Circles as a strategy for creating a culture of communication in online courses for the Glendale Community College's Technology Fest, Sep. 2016. I have attached the slide show with slide animations (ppt format) which can be downloaded and viewed. I am posting a web-friendly version to quickly scan with the scroll bar or pop out to view in a larger size.