Written on August 2, 2009 Leave a Comment |
Just some homework that I had to do this week for a class that I’m taking…
What differences do you see between the online classroom vs. the face-to-face classroom?
There are a number of different facets about online learning that make it distinctive from traditional onground settings (Gibbons & Wentworth, 2001).
1. Asynchronous Delivery.
2. Andragogical Theory.
4. Repetitive Framework.
5. Socratic Teaching Methods.
Taken in aggregate, the online experience is a self-directed endeavor performed at the student’s own time and pace, demanding their own management and attention to deliverables, who’re engaged in a well-structured process that encourages dialog to relate course concepts to real-life events.
This is probably why we see all online universities have a well-defined, scheduled, and refined delivery process for teaching online courses that is modeled in their software implementation. As well, there are ample resources available in Angel to allow the self-directed learner to research their problems using convenient online tools; instructors can augment these resources by bringing in their own materials available from the online world, particularly leveraging open standards as will be discussed in the next module. And fundamentally, many online teaching experiences center around case studies and evaluations carried on within discussion boards; Bryant & Stratton is no different in all of these aspects.
I’ve found that successful students leverage the online modality: they leverage the network multipliers and economies of scale to produce their deliverables rapidly, manage electronic citation, communicate and negotiate with other learners, use search very proficiently, and can abstract their “presence” online as being connected to their “presence” in other forms of social media or content found on the web. It also means that we instructors must talk less and provide value in other ways that extend our knowledge and skills. The successful online student will “immerse” themselves and don’t allow the tech to become an obstacle but a tool – a tool that interconnects their ideas, variety of subjects, their work, their play, and their learning all together in one aggregate experience.
In what ways do adult learners learn?
Adult learners learn best when they are able to perform goal-oriented work in a self-directed manner (Lieb, 1991). I’ve also come to understand that adult learners have to understand or be told “why” they’re learning something so that they’re motivated to learn it; just learning theory for the fun of it, or, without a constructive meaning, isn’t useful to the online learner. Further, Lieb suggests that the adult learner is practical – the work has to be relevant: if the tasks complement their professional experiences or interests, and if they can apply what they learned on the job the next day, that creates a sense of relevance with the learner and motivates their activities (Lieb, 1991).
Northern Arizona University Associate Professor Mary Dereshiwsky created a model for keeping the online student actively participating in a web-based classroom. Dereshiwsky calls it the ENGAGE process (Dereshiwsky, 2002):
Dereshiwsky’s ideas may be a little dated due to changes in the technical spectrum but are nonetheless fairly relevant. She stresses the importance of staying in touch with students and creating a sense of dialog and encouragement; she stresses the importance of community, shared experience, and shared risk; she proposes that the online instructor should go out of their way to encourage the student and denote what they did right over time; lastly, Dereshiwsky focuses on the graduate introduction of material overtime as to avoid a sense of “information overload”, and any way that technology could be used to introduce concepts should be exploited.
I believe Lieb and Dereshiwsky provide a great conceptual framework for dealing with the problem of motivating and encouraging the online student.
In my own teaching experience, I have received the strongest commentary on when I can relate complex technical problems to issues found in the workplace. Positive reinforcement and constructive criticism is vital, but one must be cautious as to the “voice” heard in email, and sometimes, it works best to deliver critical critiques over the phone rather than by email.
In my lectures, I try to take the broad concepts and break them down into meaningful “chunks” of ideas that are easily remembered; example: speed, accuracy, and reliability… if there’s anything to remember about technology, it should do these things. If technology doesn’t do these things, then there’s a problem with implementation.
I’ve also received good feedback for teaching practical skills that students can apply tomorrow once they’re back in the workplace, particularly strategic skills that allow them to control technology and strategy outcomes.
And I’ve encountered a lot of success with applying my blog, video, and written resources to issues concerning the lesson plan – students are able to take advantage of a variety of modes to learn aspects of the lesson.
How can you transfer instruction to the virtual classroom to target all learning styles?
Fundamentally, the online instructor has to put the first foot forward and create an online learning environment that is fun and engaging. Going back to Lieb and Dereskiwsky, the online instructor must take it upon themselves to reach out to students to create a bond, shared experience, and shared sense of community. They must also try to condense complex problems into managable pieces that can relate to the things many students are doing in their own workplaces. And the online instructor has to be prepared to leverage the asynchronous nature of the modality for themselves – perhaps recycling useful content between courses to further engage and motivate students.
I also believe – from my own experience – that the onground lecturer must transform into an online facilitator; there is simply no delivery style online that has us talking for two hours with a blackboard and a piece of chalk. Instead, the instructor is more of a facilitator, a coach, that encourages the self-directed learning of the student, and pushes them to online resources in ways that can allow them to be successful in the classroom. At times, I’ve wrestled with how much help is “too much” – at what point does coaching turn into doing the work for the student? This is arguably a difficult question that every instructor probably has to reconcile on their own terms, but I think a large portion of my success falls in clearly articulating expectations and helping students find the resources they need to be successful. If you can provide a consistent, self-directed, andragogical, transparent framework like this (again, echoing Gibbons & Wentworth), then the adult learner has a foundation for being successful online.
1991. Lieb, Stephen. Principles of Adult learning. Found on the World Wide Web on August 2, 2009. URL: http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/adults-2.htm
2002. Dereshiwsky, Mary; et al. GetEducated.com LLC. “Motivating & Retaining Adult Learners Online.” Found on the World Wide Web on August 2, 2009. URL: http://www.geteducated.com/images/pdfs/journalmotivateretain.pdf
2001. Gibbons, Wentworth. “Andrological and Pedagogical Training Differents for Online Instructors.” Found on the World Wide Web on August 2, 2009. URL: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall43/gibbons_wentworth43.html