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3 COOL Things about COOL’s Virtual Community

By OLT Facilitator, Niya Bond

Smiling Man Using a Laptop
Smiling Man Using a Laptop

Virtual communities of practice have always been important to online educators, but COVID-19 emphasized their relevance even more, particularly communities like Camp Operation Online Learning (COOL). What we needed most during a pandemic was a professional development platform that provided holistic support--not just offering transactional online teaching/learning techniques, but aiming higher for transformative, relatable, humanized, and engaging interactions. COOL delivered just that, and more!

Back by popular demand, COOL is a 6-week, immersive course design and teaching program where educators are supported in creating/designing/facilitating/revising their online courses for fall 2021 (and beyond). Even if you plan on teaching a campus-based course, we all learned about the value of an “online course back-up plan” in summer 2020, and past participants have commented on how COOL helped them improve in every type of teaching, not just online courses. When you join COOL, you’ll have the double-bonus of recharging your teaching/learning batteries and your soul (have you seen our reviews?!). COOL is a place for sharing sustainable pedagogies, promoting effective and efficient virtual course design, and prioritizing the power of online communities--all while building a network of support and strength that you can carry with you long after our time together ends.

Still not convinced COOL is for you? Read on for my top 3 favorite things about being a part of the COOL community.

#1: A Compelling Community

Teaching online shouldn’t occur in a vacuum, but all too often, it can seem like an isolated endeavor. Whether it’s because we are too busy actually teaching to pause and ponder the process, or whether it’s because we don’t have access to rich and robust professional development opportunities, sometimes teaching feels like a solo act. InCOOL,we consciously combat this potential feeling of disconnect. COOL breaks through pedagogical silence, disrupts course design siloes, and demystifies online teaching and learning techniques--all by inviting participants to share knowledge, build a living learning community, and engage in empowering experiences.

#2: Flexible in Format and Function

This course is authentic, dynamic, high-touch, and engaging— and you can learn with us from the comfort of your couch. Expert facilitators offer weekly live sessions, hold virtual office hours, build in regular contact through discussions and sharing sessions, and also have plenty of asynchronous activities (we know you have other things to do, too). Perhaps just as importantly, we understand that each faculty member might have varied experiences when it comes to online teaching--so we operate from a “bring what you’ve got, take what you need, and dig in as desired” approach. With COOL, there’s no checking off the obligatory assignment or chiming in robotically as required--you have a choice about when, how, and why you engage (though we make it fun enough that you might find spending time in COOL to be a highlight of your week!).

#3: We Take Things Beyond Online Teaching/Learning

This last one might read a bit strange--after all, those who sign up for a program called Camp Operation Online Learning (COOL) are inevitably interested in that medium and modality. And we honor that interest tenfold. But we also talk about other things, both related to teaching and outside. At COOL, we believe our teaching is impacted by all of our lived experiences, and the different facets of our existence. For example, as part of our professional development approach, we talk about self-care at the same time that we strategize course scaffolding. We discuss how to avoid burnout at the same time that we discuss building in the LMS. We share pictures of our pets (we even have a weekly “Pedagogy with Pancake the bulldog” series) while we seek to build structures of support for our online students. Essentially, we practice what we preach; we make people the priority, and the professional development is richer because of that.

We extended the 15% coupon for COOL. If you'd like to join us, use the code COOL15 for 15% off.

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