Category Archives: online

How ‘many tools’ can make the virtual more human.

By Sarah Dyer

How can we make the virtual more human? Like many I have been thinking through this challenge and experimenting with different approaches. This blog by Farjardo has been really helpful to me. It made sense of some of the experiences I have had and prompted many more ideas. Farjardo call, for us to try two software tools in combination, helped me understand the generative and energising experience of synchronous collaborative writing (more than one person writing in the same document, at the same time, during a video meeting). I have scheduled collaborative writing as one part of a virtual writing retreat and Lisa Harris and I ‘flipped’ a conference presentation and used the scheduled time with participants to write together. In both cases it was such a powerful technique.

In teaching, I have found multiple tools works well too. It has been useful to ‘scaffold’ the use of the different tools. This has included participants adding their names to a shared google document to create a schedule early on in a workshop where they later wrote together; an ice-breaker using the chat function to support the use of chat during discussions later in the class; and individual pre-workshop work on a Mural to introduce the workspace they then also used for small group brain-storming.

In moving online we often hear that assertion that is should be ‘pedagogy first’. It is true that how we can best achieve learning aims must always determine the choices we make about tools. However, I have also found that experimenting with tools, and thinking through the experiences of their affordances, opens up some really exciting pedagogic opportunities. Maybe we should say ‘Pedagogy first… but experiment with using different – and many – tools before that’. Not as catchy, I realise.