Before we dive into the meat of the course, lets discuss some of the features of the university platform so you can get the most our of your experience.
In the 'Discussions' tab you'll find an'Introductions' thread. Take a moment to create a thread telling us your name as you like to be called, who your canine training partner you will be working through the course is, where you are from, and what your training goals are. We will get to know each other well over the next 5 weeks, but I think this is a great place to start!
How exactly do I navigate this online course?
Our LeerU development team has done an excellent job of making these online courses intuitive and easy to navigate. However, it is a good idea to run through some of the more important aspects of the online classroom environment to make sure we all understand some of the most important and heavily used features of it.
'Week' Overview and 'Segment' tabs
I am sure by now most of you have taken a little time to explore around the classroom. No doubt you have seen the red tabs on the side indicating the main topic covered in each of the five weeks of this course. If you dig a little deeper you will find that clicking on each week will open up to a drop down of the smaller segments we will work on within that week. Each week and its respective segments are the individual lessons we will tackle as we move through this course. This is the bulk of your learning material for class.
Each segment is a piece of its week's general concept. Because the working teams in this class will vary in prior training experience and skill, I expect that some of you will move through the material rather quickly, mastering multiple segments per day, while others may need to take the content more slowly, learning one segment per day, or perhaps even taking a few days to really grasp a segment. If you and your dog are fast learners, by all means work ahead. If you are a team that needs a bit more time to absorb the material, by all means take it. This class is very content heavy, so don't feel pressured if you fall behind a little. Plus, you've got the material for a year, so you can visit and revisit the areas you find you need most help in. The important thing is not to rush, but instead consider yourself, your dog, and your individual training relationship.
While all the segments are important, I want to draw special attention to the last segment of each week - the Homework segment. Here you will find the homework for the week. Homework will be assigned and expected on certain dates. Submission of homework is a very important element of the course, as it will let me know that each team is sufficiently grasping the current training, allowing them to move forward to more detailed work.
'Student Videos' tab
All of your homework assignments will be in the form of video submissions from you the student. As you might have guessed, you will submit these videos within the Student Videos tab found beneath the Discussions tab (we'll talk more about the discussions tab next). Here is where you will receive feedback from me regarding your assignments. Student videos submitted within the student videos section will be available for all class members to see. This makes some people nervous, but please don't be - sharing your work with others is a great way to begin preparation for training in front of others - and a first step to getting over performance anxiety, which is sometimes common. As well, these classes are designed to be collaborative, supportive, and material rich. Observing different trainers working with different dogs will be a huge learning experience for classmates. The class will be much richer as a result.
Please keep your videos under 3 minutes, and only submit one video per Module.
Side note: While the Student Videos section does allow for productive discussion, this is not the primary function of the feature. Rather, this is a forum intended for instructor feedback and student encouragement. A majority of the discussion in this class will be directed to the Discussions section, which will help us keep the learning experience more organized.
This section is one of my favorite features of the online classroom environment. We will spend a lot of time within this forum spawning discussion of dog behavior. The Discussions section acts as our live classroom, where we can actively dialogue with each other. Here is an environment that encourages healthy and respectful dialogue, creative collaboration, and pushes us to really dig in to the nuts and bolts behind our training. While participation in discussion is not a requirement, you might find that you simply can't keep yourself from being involved:)
'Live Chat' tab
The Live Chat feature is really cool, and adds a level of interpersonal interaction that is hard to achieve from behind a keyboard. Each week we will have a Live Chat touchpoint to discuss the prior week's content and training. The date and time of these chats is listed in the 'Discussion' section. We understand that there will be students within this course from all over the world, and that there may be scheduling conflicts within the class. It is possible that we make adjustments to the time and date of these chats to meet the majority needs of the group.
The chats are facilitated through Adobe Connect. Each week a link, with a time and date, will be sent out to students so that they may connect to the live chat forum and participate in conversation. There is a bit of a learning curve to using the Live Chat feature, but once you've spent a little time within it, it's quite easy to navigate. Our first live chat following week one will be spend familiarizing ourselves with the technology. The live chats can be accessed from smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers - meaning students won't need to be at home at their computer to participate.
There will be no live chats on the first and last weeks of the course.
'Tests' and 'Grades' tabs
Because the homework load in this class is intensive, there will be no formal tests students are required to take. If there were tests, however, they would be found within the Tests tab. This may be important to keep in mind for future classes.
Also, this particular course is not graded. Students will receive a certificate of completion for going through and successfully completing homework assignments within this course but no formal grades will be assigned. It's hard to put a grade on learning, and I'd prefer students not to feel pressured to perform. Above all, I want each one of you to walk away from this course with set of skills, and perhaps a new perspective which helps you develop a trusting and stress free relationship with your dog.
So there's your brief overview about how to navigate this course. If you have any questions about the way the course is laid out or how you the student can make the most of your time in it, go ahead and start a discussion thread - that way we can all benefit from further exploration.