Appreciation Transforms Education: I have been witnessing a trend in higher education, and more specifically distance learning, towards a form of learning that is exclusive of classrooms with assigned instructors.
Instructors are becoming guides on-call, if needed by a student, rather than being an essential part of the learning process. Students take exams and write papers to earn a passing score, only engaging with an instructor who grades or answers questions. This reminds me of a time when there were correspondence-style courses.
While I understand the intent of competency-based education, and I’m not going to evaluate its merits, what I can share with you is my experience after working with directly with students for over 18 years. The lesson is simple: I know many students would not make it through their program were it not for the ongoing support, time, effort, and encouragement of their instructors. I was also an online student, and earned most of my advanced degrees online, and I know how effective a class can be with a highly engaged instructor.
For those of you who still work within a traditional online classroom, with instructor-led courses, there is only one way this form of education will continue, and it is by continuing to show how transformational education can be as a result of direct involvement with an instructor. The discourse I have with students in a discussion board prompts higher order thinking and contributes to their intellectual development. I am always appreciative of their contributions and take time to craft feedback acknowledging what they post, while supporting their growth and progress.
I encourage you to think of online teaching not as a task or set of duties, but at its core it is a set of interactions. More importantly, every interaction has a potential to contribute to the learning and development of students, if you will demonstrate some form of appreciation. This begins by finding something positive to state when you write an email or post a message. From there you can utilize any one of the many strategies provided within the chapters ahead.
If you maintain a disposition which reflects your enjoyment of the work you do, this will also show up in your interactions and before long, you will naturally be using appreciative teaching. When students perceive you appreciate them in some manner, and they experience ongoing positive interactions with you, appreciative teaching will have also become a transformational strategy. Both you and your students will be transformed.
I hope you look forward to my new book.
Dr. Bruce A. Johnson
Bruce A. Johnson, Ph.D., MBA