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I'm taking a MOOC (Massive, Open, Online Course) about "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools" (Click here for Course Link).  

Week one's topic is TEC-VARIETY, a model for online learning by Bonk and Khoo (2012).  Here's what it stands for:
1. Tone/Climate:  Psych Safety, Comfort, Belonging
2.  Encouragement:  Feedback, Responsive, Supports
3.  Curiosity:  Fun, Fantasy, Control
4.  Variety:  Novelty, Intrigue, Unknowns 
5.  Autonomy:  Choice, Flexibility, Opportunities
6.  Relevance:  Meaningful, Authentic, Interesting
7.  Interactive:  Collaborative, Team-Based, Community
8.  Engagement:  Effort, Involvement, Excitement
9.  Tension:  Challenge, Dissonance, Controversy
10.  Yields:  Goal Driven, Products, Success, Ownership

Bonk argues that we are not doing enough  to motivate students with the technologies that they love.  The TEC-VARIETY model is meant to improve student motivation in online courses and to increase student retention.  I don't think it's the easiest model to remember (unlike R2D2).  However, I think it is a helpful model to keep in mind when designing a course if we want to increase engagement and retention.  

I will be honest and say that the amount of information presented by Dr. Bonk in the lessons for each week in this MOOC can be somewhat overwhelming--in a good way.  Here are some of the ideas that intrigue me related to TEC-VARIETY/Week 1:

  • Public commitments online increase retention.  This can be achieved by the use of social ice breakers.  Bonk suggests a getting-to-know you activity of having all participants post 1-2 of their favorite websites and explain why they like the sites.  Then, have peers comment on the posts (or rate them).  
  • Class Google jockeys can access the internet and showcase what's important about a topic, providing links to text, soundtracks, video clips, etc.
  • Timelines are used by online newspapers, wired magazine, and by Facebook.  Bonk suggests that we can/should incorporate virtual timelines in online learning.
  • Video blogs could replace written blogs for students.  This seems like an especially appropriate accommodation for students with learning disabilities in written instruction.  
  • Social media.  Bonk and Khoo suggest that faculty create a fan page for their courses in Facebook (or possibly in Yammer here at PSU) to attract potential students and market the course.  It is suggested that the instructor of the course can use this "fan" page to ask students to contribute Web resources, links, and photos.  The fan page can be used as a bridge between formal and informal learning.
  • Feedback:  "Lack of feedback is deemed to be one of the main reasons for withdrawing from an online course" (Ertmer, Richardson, Belland, Camin, Connooly, Coulthard, Lei, & Mong, 2007 in Bonk & Khoo, 2012).  Courses need numerous encouragement and feedback mechanisms - from both peers and instructors.
Now, I must check out the hundreds of links Bonk references to see what can be refashioned and used in the courses that I help design.

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