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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6 thoughts on “Setting Up An Online Learning Experience

  1. Thank you so much for sharing such an insightful blog!! I have spent about an hour reading all that you have shared! I certainly could not agree more in regards to the importance of setting the expectations for the learners from the beginning so they know exactly what they need to do in order to be successful througout the course. I actually took an online course once in which the instructor posted instructions the week before they were do and I felt so unorganized. A thorough syllabus is extremely imporant to implement as it takes away a lot of anxiety from both the instructor and the learners. Thanks so much for sharing,

    Krista

  2. Asha,
    Great blog entry. I also think learning the technology available to you can be daunting and take time is important. Knowing the technology allows you to help the students with simple problems they may be having. Just referring them to tech support can shake their confidence in your abilities.
    Diane

  3. Hi Asha,
    Thank you for a thoughtful post. I appreciate the fact that you are asking us to consider environment and to be purposeful in how we design the experience. We talked a lot about icebreakers this week and the importance of that first week. One of the points brought up in the video we watched for class this week (Laureate Education, 2010) suggests that this ground zero week can make or break attrition issues. Students decide in those first weeks if they will stay or drop a class. Building a safe environment, one that as you argue, promotes mastery level learning is important. Icebreakers are a part of that and how we design those first two weeks to support learning is pivotal.

    I was reading an article on corporate training and Rachel Emma Silverman (2012) argues that corporate training very often does not engage the analysis process of instructional design. It doesn’t take into account the learner. Silverman (2012) interviewed Eduardo Salas, an expert in corporate training who posits that “[w]hat happens before and after a training session…is just as important as the actual instruction itself” (para. 2). Salas (Silverman, 2012) goes on to say that “little organizations rely on the science of learning and training” (para. 5). I think this is rather significant.

    So to bring this back to your post, terms like mastery level learning, learning environments/communities are all part of a science of learning. I think it is up to us to make sure it is held to high standard. Ensuring that the start of a learning module engages the learner is important and your points are so important to remember! Thank you!

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

    Silverman, R.E. (2012, October 26). So much training, so little to show for it. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204425904578072950518558328

  4. Hello Asha,
    This is a great, thought-provoking post. I resonate most with the first paragraph of your post where you talk about technology. You stated that it is important to apply the right tool to achieve the instructional effect you want. The course text supports your reasoning by stating that “it is vital that you add tools only as you are ready. If a tip suggests a tool that is not available to you or you are not quite ready for, simply adapt the tip as makes sense to you and come back to it for further consideration the next time you are teaching the course” (Boettcher, p. 58).

    I’m currently experiencing this with the new Adobe Connect software my company has purchased. Because they have spent so much money on it, they want us to use it for everything. Some of the training we design does not call for that type of software and it’s hard to explain this to the stakeholders and senior management staff. We also own WebEx software and, although it doesn’t have the bells and whistles that Adobe has, it caters to some of the simpler training solutions we provide. It’s good to see that you also support this reasoning. Thank you for sharing!

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

  5. Hi Asha,

    So many great points you bring up. I’ll focus on the last, where you bring up that the online learning environment should be inviting and challenging. I completely agree, as a learning environment that is not challenging is not as engaging and may keep students away from participating in the discussions and other activities. Even simple icebreakers have the potential to spark an interest in the learning environment and encourage the students to participate. Great job!

  6. Great post Asha. I like your comments about the instructor communicating clearly the expectations for the course. I am in three courses at the moment. My Walden course is the most structured and clearly outlined courses. I have developed my groove and rhythm.

    I am in two other courses that are housed in Moodle. There are some difference in the interface and tech tools, but Moodle does the job. One of the two courses is fully developed. The one that is not developed gets built as we go. In other words, I do not know beyond next week what we are going to do. I do not know what the culminating course project will be. I find that to be ineffective.

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