Setting Up An Online Learning Experience

The following responses have been derived from the resources listed in the bottom of the post.

  • What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

It is important to know the technology available to you so that you are able to apply the right tools to achieve what ever instructional effect you want. The Boetticher text submits that while getting acclimated with all of the applications at your disposal might be daunting and take some time, “these tools make it possible to design almost any experience that you [may] have designed for your face-to-face environment” (p. 58, 2010).

  • Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

It is essential to communicate clear expectations to learners so that they can approach the course and proceed with confidence.  The text explains that “unambiguous guidelines…make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction in an online course” (Boetticher, p. 55, 2010).  If the learner doesn’t know what is expected of him it is highly likely that he will have a hard time finding focus and very unlikely that he’ll arrive at the learning outcomes.

ID course creation pic

  • What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

The instructor should understand that just as a f2f course is dynamic and might change as a result of student’s needs or other factors, online course “[go] through a gradual process of refinement” and it could take “about three cycles of teaching a course for it to be fully developed” (Boetticher, p. 63, 2010).  They should bear this in mind as they set up and implement an online learning experience as that awareness and responsiveness could contribute to making the course that much better.   I discussed the importance of clear expectations, the text also lists “presence, community and patience” (p. 53, 2010) as essential themes for course beginnings.  The instructor should make it clear that he/she is present and available; they should be patient with learners who may be new to the online experience and the increased responsibility that the learner assumes and they should foster an environment rich with discussions and ideas.

To successfully launch an online learning experience ample thought should be given as to the type of environment you are facilitating.  Is it inviting, challenging and exciting or flat and impersonal?  As the experts in the Launching the online learning experience video submit, the first couple of weeks are very critical in guarding against attrition.  Providing engaging icebreakers, coming across as approachable, human and knowledgeable are all key factors in laying the foundation for a solid course.   I learned that the introduction and icebreaker elements of the course are integral pieces of the course machinery and shouldn’t be approached as throw away bits.

Resources:

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

Video: Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Launching the online learning experience [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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Community building and effective online instruction EIDT 6510 Course

The following observations were gleaned from viewing a video in which instructional design industry experts discuss and highlight the benefits of creating an online learning community for facilitators of online learning experiences.

Online learning communities significantly impact student learning in that they facilitate a deeper learning experience than a more instructor-centered approach would.  The peer to peer dynamic present in an online learning community allows for exploration of concepts within a forum where students both challenge and support each other in the learning process.  The instructor does establish his/her presence and it is clear that he/she is an integral part of the community but in order to provide for a transformative experience the instructor coaches from the wings so that students can construct their own knowledge.   Student satisfaction is positively impacted because they feel that they are apart of a dynamic exchange where their input is valued and expected.

The essential elements of an online community are a facilitator who understands his/her role as a source of guidance, learners who are engaged and make professional contributions to the community and a clear focus and purpose.  It is essential to online community building that each involved party has a good sense of their responsibility to the course.  The vitality of the community depends on the level of investment and engagement of the participants.  This engagement contributes to the sustenance of online communities.  Online communities are also sustained through meaningful support from the administrators of the program where the course is utilized.

Community building has a strong correlation to effective online instruction.  A thriving online community where guided participants interact and share their observations as they learn and reflect on new concepts leads to stronger learning outcomes and increased self direction.  This increased initiative can result in participants bringing even more insights and observations to share within the community resulting in richer discussion and deeper learning.

The video resource really drove home the importance of the instructor adapting the ‘guide on the side’ versus the ‘sage on the stage’ stance.  This element–the instructor guiding and coaching rather than lecturing–is essential to the co-constructed knowledge process and is the bedrock upon which a strong and effective learning community is built.