School of Social Work
University of Washington, Seattle Campus
Changing Context, Changing Process
As a doctoral student in the School of Social Work, Rebecca Macy was required to complete a one-quarter teaching practicum. Macy, an experienced teacher, was interested in learning more about distance education, an educational format which is growing quickly in social work. She chose to work with Lynn Keenan (see below) in the UW School of Social Work's Distance Learning program. Macy soon learned that a crash course in distance learning is also a crash course in teaching with technology.
Macy and Keenan co-taught a class that met in person four times and also had a required technology component. Students used Peer Review and EPost; because the class met so seldom, EPost was especially crucial. The students, Macy discovered, knew each other well from previous classes. This meant that they were more vocal, which was helpful for the distance portions of the class.
Macy saw a qualitative difference in relationships between students in the distance format, and feels that there might have been less interaction in a group that didn't know each other previously. However, she said, in a distance learning format you can do a topic more in-depth.
Macy found that EPost was a good tool within distance learning--she felt that it allowed students to share their own knowledge. "Students had great conversations about topics that didn't come up in class," she said. Unlike Thurtle (see above), however, she found that students appreciated more participation from the instructors on the EPost message board. Macy and Keenan's participation let the students know that they were a part of the discussion community--perhaps especially important in a distance learning course.
Although teaching with the Catalyst Tools was new to Macy, she claims that she will definitely use them again in the future, especially EPost. "Training in technology is important for social workers," she said. She noted, however, that the way in which she uses the tools will depend on the format of the class, whether on-site or distance learning. "The content goals remain the same," she said, "but the process goals change."
Please note: EPost has been replaced by GoPost, which offers expanded features to support online discussion and collaboration.
Peer Review is no longer available. Learn more about using other Catalyst Web Tools to accomplish similar tasks.