Three Questions

As Instructional Designers and Online Instructors succeed in setting up an online environment conducive to deep learning, we begin to realize that the initial planning has deeper requirements than meets the eye, so to speak. Particularly on the subject of ‘Technology’. Below, are three salient questions and the answers I am providing to them. Please, feel free to post your comments and let me know your thoughts on the subject-matter.

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

Knowing what technology is available will help advice good choice and timely application. It will give meaning and interpretation to potential gains as one can leverage key aspects of available software and infrastructure. Examples are communication opportunities. (Skype, iMessage, Voice Over Internet Protocol telephony and Bluetooth connectivity etc.) Emails now have the capability of extensive file size portability and can be embedded with audio and video files.

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

Helps set goals. It gives the learner a sense of inclusiveness and responsibility for their learning. Most learners in the online arena are adults, having other engaging activities on their schedules. However, because of their ability to critical think, process think and make sound prioritizing decisions they will usually rise-up to the task if they are given adequate inclusiveness.

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

The makeup of Online Community is of great interest. Despite the andragogic nature of the population’s learning style, there still exists a lot of variability in cohorts. The instructor must be inquisitive and help individuals express themselves by facilitating continuous dialogue and community interaction throughout the course.

In conclusion, Instructional Designers, Project Managers, and Instructors are all wearing the caps of effectiveness. They are key process actors and it is best for them to do their job right-the-first time, then plan to repair what does not turn out right in the future. Therefore, the right choice of tools, based on informed expertise, is the way to go for quality outcomes and excellence.

Thank you for taking time to read this post, and I look forward to your comments

 

Effectiveness with Online Learning Communities

adjusted learners

Individuals learn better in communities as they ‘rub’ minds together. With a little variation, the Online learning environment comes with a lot of ‘bells -and-whistles’, the objectives of course designers vary as they apply the instruments of technology and communication in the execution of instructional plans. (Bates, & Poole, 2003). However, the rather new research database on online learning shows that certain best practices in the field are supported by definite constructs which many have tried repeatedly, with demonstrated success.

Not all applications of Technology to Online learning are useful. Before software enter the market, most of them are well researched and still undergo post -marketing surveillance, but the disconnect with technology happens in the field and not with the developer. You see, due to the various needs of users, and the diverse nature of the environments in which they operate, the software/user interface should be user-friendly enough to make the learning curve appropriately short.

If the new student in the online environment is not careful, he or she could fall prey to early attrition. Student attrition in the online learning environment happens when the frustrations of talking the ecology of Distance Learning overtakes the learner and he or she decides to leave the program prematurely. A year ago, I did some work in this area and studied ways of using Instructional Design methodologies to motivate learners as a counter to this trend. You may read this online article titled: ‘Online Education and the Challenge of Motivation’ accessible at www.educationcorner.com/online-education-motivation.html. Experts agree that a sense of isolation besets the new learner who had been used to the companionship of peers in the traditional learning environment.

However, the picture of the Online Learning Community is quite complex and much bigger than what motivation alone will solve. The complexity of software environments and the need for motivation are barely the tips of the iceberg of online community growth and sustenance. Every Class cohort is different, with the Instructor/Facilitator also introducing a variable which changes as each Class population changes. Though the learning material remains the same, the interaction or no interaction of these dynamic elements suggests that Facilitators need to approach their learner groups with a sense of inquisitiveness as well as empathy. According to Dr. Keith Pratt, contributing to the presentation on ‘Online Learning Communities’, the Facilitator can give the learner a sense that he or she is not alone, and the Instructor is human. ((Laurette Education, 2010). These two interventions can prevent unnecessary learner attrition, in a measurable way. It is important that we plan for measurement as Scholar-Practitioners of Online Learning Science.

As practice gets smoother, more scientific and ethical, we will find the following results:

1) Instructor uses of Pedagogical innovativeness will increase.

2)Increasing use of informal social networking tools to create a sense of ease among new learners.

3) More research in tracking cohort communities and best practices which assisted early bonding and sense of community.

This Blogsite will be exploring the phenomenon of online Community bonding strategies over the next few weeks, so please keep visiting the site.

Temitope

 

References

Bates, A. W., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley. 10475 Crosspoint Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46256.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]