My birthday was a week ago. Even after 50 birthdays like this one, it is nice to be remembered. I received 1 mailed birthday card, 3 hand delivered birthday cards, 5 birthday phone calls, and 55 happy birthday wishes on my Facebook page. The birthday wishes on my Facebook came from a variety of people – most of whom I know. My best friend from high school wished me a happy birthday, along with other high school classmates, one of my former high school teachers, and the woman who was my girlfriend in high school. Then there were former students who wished me a happy birthday, including one who was in my kindergarten class over 25 year ago. There were birthday wishes from colleagues and people I have interacted with in the library world, the online learning world and the overall educational world, as well as friends who live where I live. All of the birthday wishes came from people in the U.S. with the furthest birthday wish coming from Virginia and Connecticut. For that 30 seconds it took each person to write a note to me, I know they were thinking about me and that feels pretty good.
In the world of online learning, those who are not involved often wonder how students are engaged in learning and with their teachers when the learning is online. The birthday greetings on Facebook are one example of how teachers can interact with students for learning. Just as in face-to-face classrooms, when teachers take special notice of a student, it encourages student learning. Effective online teachers know how to engage and recognize students online through short messages, by recognizing good work, and by comments on graded assignments. These are some of the ways that online teachers engage students in their learning.
As Facebook continues to cause us to connect with people we would otherwise not be in contact with, evolving online learning pedagogies, tools and content provide new ways to better meet the needs of all learners.