Evolution of Online and Blended Learning
This module introduced the world of the blended and online teacher. While there are some obvious differences between online, blended, and traditional classroom teaching, many core elements and practices in successful "brick and mortar" teaching are also present in the blended and online environment. In this module I reviewed academic research, was introduced to the skills needed to be a successful blended and/or online teacher, and I compared and contrasted online, blended, and face-to-face teaching.
Online Learning Vs Face-to-Face Learning
The diagram (above) demonstrates the similarities and differences between online and face-to-face learning. Differences between the two instructional models are shown opposite each other in the red and blue circles. Similarities are shown where the two circles overlap in purple. The web 2.0 tool used to create this diagram was Google Drawings. Diagrams like this are a excellent way of showing how two models relate to and interact with each other to create the learning experience.
Face-to-face instruction is limited compared to online instruction due to its reliance on a synchronous structure where students and instructor all convene at the same time and place. The pace of the face-to-face instruction is determined by the instructor as is typical of an instructional approach. Online instruction gives students more agency in their learning by allowing them to choose their time, place, pace and path for learning. Both operate under standards based curriculum that is engaging and offers a variety of activities, and resources for all learning styles. Online instruction is not best suited for all learners and it is helpful for students to think about their learning style in relation to each instructional model.
Reflection: Methodologies of the Online & Blended Instructor
As a Student Success Intern at Point Loma Nazarene University, I was able to reach out and interact with the student body through the building, planning and management of the Student Success social media platforms (Instagram and Facebook). The social media platforms allowed myself and the Student Success Counselors to connect with students each week on topics relevant to their educational journey. We highlighted members of the student success team and how students could get in touch for support, free resources for students needing help with writing, research, financial aid, career services etc. When the Covid-19 pandemic had arrived, we used social media as a platform to share about town hall meetings, mental health resources, financial aid and live updates about the changing logistics of the school and how students can get help. In these ways, we were able to personalize information to the students about their changing learning environments. PLNU has successfully transitioned all their courses to online formats and it is in this way that students have more agency in their learning experience with control over time, place, path and pace.
Instructional methods I would employ in an online learning environment are the use of video presentations of different topics and projects/assignments and best practices for online students. I would incorporate weekly opportunities for students to learn together either in a discussion board, study hall or Q&A water cooler forum. I would set up solo assignments and group projects for students to learn and practice new skills using Web 2.0 technologies and collaborate together. I envision having virtual office hours and communicating regularly through email or group chat with the class so everyone feels part of the group and on the same page. I believe students engage and respond well to content that is current and presented in a variety of mediums such as video, podcasts, articles, blogs etc. I would like to strategize how to creatively present my content in a way that holds students' attention employing storytelling, guest speakers, metaphors, modeling and humor.
Below is an outline of the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching that have been strengthened so far in this course (Module 0 and 1).
Course overview and introduction (6, 7 & 8)
In our very first week of LEC 58 (Module 0) all participants, the professor and Ed. Tech met on a Zoom to do introductions and review the syllabus and course structure as well as to participate in a navigational tour of the Learning Management System (LMS) Canvas. This synchronous meeting helped get everyone on the same page and provided an opportunity to ask questions. This course overview and introduction experience provided a great model for how to effectively commence an online course and orient the students to the structure and logistics of the course.
Instructional Strategies and Activities (3)
Communication and Interaction (8, 9 & 10)
Resources and Materials (11)
From our Module 0 and 1, the LEC participants engaged in a weekly discussion board assignment responding to specific prompts and clearly outlined what should be included. The discussion board assignments provide the students an opportunity to communicate their perspectives, critically think about the topics presented and interact with peers to deepen their discussion. The e-textbook for the course is hyperlinked to each module with instructions that guide the students to review and study the topics and content before beginning assignments.
Feedback (3 & 4)
At the conclusion of each module participants receive brief feedback from the instructor on their contribution to the discussion boards and other weekly assignments along with feedback for improvement. Feedback for improvement may focus on the ongoing creation of each participant's professional e-portfolio for the Leading Edge Certification.
In the syllabus for the LEC course, web 2.0 tools and technology requirements are reviewed in detail for students' understanding and accessibility. The Ed. Tech also introduced herself in the course overview and introduction meeting inviting students to reach out to her and the instructor should they have any challenges and need support for their work in the course.
Post Reflection: This module introduced me to to the effectiveness of pre-course activities, organization as well as pacing of weekly assignments and discussions for an online course. I am already implementing the knowledge and skills I have gained in this course to my online teaching work to create a consistent, well-paced, organized and supportive online learning experience. It is these strategies for quality instructional design and teaching that ensure students have a clear and guided path to success through my online courses. Working virtually as a TA for a Personal Growth course at San Diego Miramar College, I have the unique opportunity to apply and practice my new skills and knowledge with my students with guidance from and experienced counselor and mentor.