“I’m in,” was my response to Adeline Koh’s invitation to join her in a thought experiment when she asked people to “try to set aside our fears and anxieties just for a moment, and discuss what makes the online environment so different from the physical classroom.”
I’ll start by coming clean. I love teaching online, and I’ve taught a lot of online classes. What I love about online classes is that students are both the architects and the architecture in my classes. Students build the structure of our classes with me. Their writing, questions of and comments and responses to one another, their images with image descriptions and videos with captions and transcripts, and their revisions shape our classes. Their labor builds our classes and their work becomes the infrastructure of our classes. They are both architects and the architecture of our online classes. We build together, and our classes are embodied. We do not build without our bodies: our bodyminds.
My “ideal digital learning community” is an embodied one—one in which I constantly consider how the bodyminds of my students access our course, which includes considering how my students access the work of one another. How will a student access a video transcript with a head pointer? How can my students make their essays accessible to screen readers? I ask a lot of questions of myself in terms of how I build, teach, facilitate, and I teach my students to ask questions of themselves as well. My “ideal digital learning community” is one in which all students can access and build the curriculum, access one another, and access me. And in my “ideal digital learning community,” my students have access to student support services, faculty, and all the other university community members who support our students.
My online classes are in the physical world, and there are so many ways to be in the physical world. I’d love to learn from others about their “ideal digital learning community.” Thank you, Adeline Koh, for the invitation to think and join a conversation!