Northern perspectives

We’ve just launched a unique FLO (Facilitating Learning Online) course – one that has been re-designed to incorporate Northern perspectives and contexts (read more about FLO North). I’m excited to see how our modifications to the original BCcampus OER (the course derives from an open licensed Moodle course called FLO Fundamentals) support the evolving needs of online facilitators and allow space for a strong community perspective and participation from remote places. FLO North is offered by Recreation North, is a partnership of three territorial recreation and parks associations and I’ll be co-facilitating with their Learning Consultant, Caroline Sparks.

We use the term ‘North’ to refer to the diverse peoples and places within the vast geographic areas (48 percent of Canada) of Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Canada

We began the course early due to the Labour Day weekend. Early openings are not new for FLO courses as we want to allow time for participants who are new to online instruction, or to Moodle, to get used to our course space and review some basic skills to help them navigate the course resources and participate in upcoming activities more easily. But we’re trying something new (to me) with FLO North and that is adding a pre-course assessment quiz that is based on the FLO rubrics (and only shared with FLO facilitators) and we’re asking people to share Introductions before the official course start (after the long weekend).

Impact of early Intros and pre-assessment quiz

I am interested to see how (or whether) starting with the pre-assessment quiz heightens each participant’s awareness of the two roles they will play during the course and the importance we place on the need to develop empathy for both the participant’s and the facilitator’s perspectives. I’m hoping that the pre-assessment quiz will encourage them to use the FLO Rubrics to monitor and reflect on their own learning and development each week. As with other FLO courses, we include a weekly reflections forum and try to spark critical reflection through sharing a thought question or prompt each week but it has often been a challenge to encourage busy participants to include regular checks of their learning of the basic skills and knowledge identified by the rubrics. We’ve also asked them to complete the same quiz again at the end of the course, and plan to integrate the results with our final assessment and award of a completion Certificate.

I was a little more hesitant about adding the Introductions before (and during) a long weekend as I’ve always thought of this activity as a critical beginning to getting to know the FLO facilitators and other participants through a more personal and interactive activity than we generally have time for during weekly synchronous sessions. I was concerned that there wouldn’t be as much interaction among participants but so far I’ve been pleased to see connections forming. It’s hard to know how much is due to pre-course relationships as participants in RecNorth’s leadership micro-courses or other recreation events or work, but I would definitely try this again in future FLO courses.

As I have time, I’ll continue to post my reflections on our pedagogical intentions and what I’m observing – kind of my own version of weekly reflections within the FLO North course.

Cheers….Sylvia

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