By Lisa Micley
During the past year, I have had two opportunities to teach a Judaic studies course online through the Online Judaic Studies Consortium (OJSC). I hope my personal experience will be informative to those of you who currently engage in this kind of teaching and motivating to those of you considering broadening your teaching to include the online classroom.
The course I taught was Mishna. Three different schools participated via a D2L (Brightspace) platform. The course is asynchronous and paced, where students have to complete assignments each week of the course with deliverables mid-week and at the end of each week.
The most enlightening and exciting part of this experience was the singular focus on student work. The two courses that I taught were fully prepared before I entered my online classroom. Each day my task was to respond to my students, guide them in their discussions, comment on their assignments and assess their work. All of these tasks were student-centered, so my role as a teacher was totally focused on my students and their work in my online classroom.
The interactions between students and me were frequent and meaningful. I was delighted to experience thought-provoking and rich interactions with students in schools across North America. Students asked excellent questions to which they wanted serious answers. They also shared personal anecdotes in an open and connected way with me and with their classmates.
News items – a regular part of OJSC courses and the first thing students see when they open the course each day – enabled me to share personal information with my students, inspire them with words of Torah, or make them smile with a graphic or story that related to our studies.