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Tag: eCoach

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Mindshift to Learner-Centered Environments

Just putting technology in students’ hands doesn’t make the environment learner-centered. Change takes time. Actually change takes years. When you put a program together and ask teachers to change how they teach in one year, it’s just not going to happen. I put up a Scoop-it on Apps for the Student-Centered Classroom and it became my most popular Scoop-it quickly. Why? Because it’s all about the apps. I have techno-lust. I love new apps and learning about new technology, but really changes in the classroom.

I created other Scoop-its on Creativity, Innovation, and Change and Making Learning Personal that have followers looking for something different than apps. Well, maybe they are looking for apps and tools too, but the ideas for those apps focus on a changing learning environment.

I am very lucky to have coaching jobs where I facilitate change. Yesterday I saw some Aha moments from some of the teachers where they had all day to collaborate and rethink their learning strategies. Live Oak Elementary in San Ramon, CA is a large school with 6-7 teachers at each grade level. So the school provided them subs for the 3rd grade teachers so they could plan and share and learn without interruptions. What a concept!

I just read “10 Big Problems with Lecture-Based Learning” that is targeted for higher ed but applies to all learning environments.
Lecture
The 10 points in this article include…

  1. It’s passive.

  2. It doesn’t engage every learning style.
  3. It facilitates rote learning above all else.
  4. It’s biased.
  5. It precludes discussion.
  6. It’s not the right fit for every subject.
  7. Minimal student feedback.
  8. Not every teacher excels at public speaking.
  9. Not every attention span lasts that long.
  10. It only nurtures a limited range of skill sets.

I suggest reading the article above for more information and just don’t think teachers and professors are going to give up lecturing. Since I said it takes time, we need to rethink how we approach different topics. Student or learner-centered means that learning is personalized for the student. The student drives their learning. It is different than a teacher differentiating learning for each student. When you differentiate instruction, the teacher is working even harder now creating multiple lesson plans for the different types of learners in their classroom. Personalization means the student is curating their learning, finding learning appropriate and relevant learning objects for their topic.

What I suggest is moving slowly to a more learner-centered environment by designing collaborative projects that build in inquiry and student voice and choice. This first project the teachers are creating at Live Oak is still mostly teacher-centric. The teachers are choosing the topic and standards met, designing the driving question, determining groups, roles, tasks, and assessments. Students are working in groups, choosing the types of products. The teachers are creating a collaborative website and link it to their class website. This is the first step toward learner-centered environments.

The power of designing the same project together is that the teachers will do action research on what worked and what didn’t work for each teacher. This feedback will help them design the next project. The mindshift only works if teachers and students are immersed in the process, do the work, see how it works, learn and reflect on the results (not the test scores only) but if students were able to demonstrate evidence of learning and were engaged in the learning process. I think this is cool!

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Balancing Act

Most people that become coaches tend to be nurturers. They usually became a teacher or coach because they like to help people. A good coach sets up the guidelines for an effective relationship with the people they coach. Agreeing on a contract for meetings, communication and due dates will ensure the relationship will work. A relationship between a coach and the coachee needs to be built on trust: trust that both will show up on time, tasks are done in a timely manner, questions are answered and materials are created when needed.

Contracts need to be reconsidered for a successful coaching relationship. Coaches especially those who are teachers have trouble saying no when someone needs them.

eCoaching takes coaching many steps further. How do you set up a contract based on time when virtual coaching can be at anytime from anywhere? This is where the coach and coachee set up a contract that is really clear on products, tasks, and feedback and what is realistic between them.

This is where you need to be realistic about your time. Think of your clients, where you live, where they live and the time zone differences. I received calls at 4am when working with people in Europe. I live in California. I used to answer the phone and jump whenever someone called. If someone wrote an email or tech support, I was right on it. Unfortunately, there was no balance in my life. I was at the mercy of my clients. It is important to set up contracts and realistic expectations on how you will support the people you coach.

  • Set up a contract for you and your coachees.
  • Put that contract on your team page so everyone can refer to it.
  • Build in realistic expectations on how soon you will respond.
  • Negotiate with your coachees roles and responsibilities.
  • Monitor the progress of your relationship.
  • Update and change the expectations when needed.

There are more ideas but the main thing is to protect you and your time, your space, and your personal life. There has to be a balance in your life. You are modeling what you want for the people you are supporting.

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Tips for Building Trust in an Online Community

There usually is one manager of an online community. The manager can be called a community manager, a team manager, or an eCoach. The members of your community will need to trust you to feel safe in your community. Here are seven tips to ensure a trusting relationship with the members of your community.

1. Personalize your Community

Ask your community members to fill out their profile, add a picture, and share information about themselves. Encourage members to introduce themselves right away in the discussion forum. Personalize all communications you have with each member. If you send out automated emails, use a program that includes their first name at the beginning of the message.

Feature different members or projects weekly. If your community is still small, try to keep track of a few of the people a week and promote what they are doing. If your community is large, it is difficult for one manager to select and feature members. Encourage different members manage a welcoming committee so the community builds on its own.

2. Lead by Example

As the community manager, you set the tone of your community. You are the person who your members look to for guidance. You are modeling what you want your members to do for a healthy virtual community. If you nudge your members to participate, pretty soon they will start nudging each other. It is important to welcome your new members by offering advice and pointing to relevant information. What you want to do is promote the purpose and value of your community through your behavior. Hopefully, the purpose and value will rub off on your members and they will follow your example.

3. Be True to Yourself

Be authentic. Don’t try to be someone or something you are not. Your community has figured you out as the leader probably from the time they signed up. They will eventually see through any activities that don’t reflect who you are.  Don’t lie to your members. Don’t tell them that a new feature will be available soon when it will take a lot longer. If you say something that offends a member, and you believe in what you are defending, hold strong in that position you are taking and explain why. You will not be able to please everyone all the time especially if your community scales up fast.

4. Share What You Learn

Every community has a purpose built around a topic. Whether your community is about cooking, digital storytelling, or home schooling, try and learn as much as you can about the topic. Your members will be more willing to trust someone they perceive is helping them make better decisions. Take the time to understand what your community’s personal challenges and issues are, and attempt to address them yourself or encourage others to provide solutions. Investigate what the community might be promoting and share tips and guides on how best to use it. Dish out advice and showcase your most active members that add value to your community.

5. Learn from Mistakes

Even the best of us makes mistakes and online community managers will make mistakes. Always try to correct your mistake if it involves one member or the entire community. Mistakes usually happen because you are overly tired. The problem with being an online community manager is that the community is open 24/7 and it can be difficult to achieve a balanced life.

So you may get some negative feedback which can be a positive thing for an online community. This is where the community manager can respond to the comments which shows respect and that you care about the community. Find your community evangelists and ask them to jump in to the conversations.

6. Be Consistent

Your community will not trust you if you are not consistent in your actions. You need to treat everyone the same and follow the terms of use that you ask everyone to accept. If you present erratic behavior, your members will not feel safe with you. Remember #2 Lead by Example means that if your behavior is erratic, then your members will be confused.

It is real easy to spend more time with one member over another especially if one of the members is an evangelist for your community. However, if you constantly showcase this one member and forget others, you may be accused of favoritism.

7. Let it Go

It’s not a good idea to beg your members to stay in your community, if they just don’t want to be part of your community anymore. There could be a lot of reasons that they want to leave, but, sometimes, it is because they don’t visit that often and belong to too many communities. They may not like another member or the purpose of the community.

If someone wants to leave, do not ignore their request. Remove them from your community, and ask them why they want to be removed so you can determine if this is a problem for others in the community and possibly resolve it.

This post was adapted from Social Media Today: How to Build Trust in an Online Community


Building a trusting online community can take weeks maybe months. Trust is vital to the health of your community. Follow the list above to nurture a positive and open environment. Cross posted on The Environmentalist.