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Staying Relevant in Online Instruction
With constant changes in technology practices for adult online learning, the factor of staying relevant and current with learning practices exists. Students challenged with differentiated learning practices must select the educational instructional style that best fits the student’s learning style. Within this framework, the components of what constitutes the best online learning environment are examined. Learning Team B members discuss the parameters of what makes the best online environment suitable to a diverse group of learners. Examined are learning theories, instructional practices, and facilitator feedback. The intent is to assemble the categories necessary for a smooth and cohesive learning environment suitable for all learners.
Personalizing the E-Learning Environment
Selecting the educational design for effective learners is both complex and challenging. A variety of diverse instructional strategies meeting the needs of students is key. Learning Team B members discussed the components that comprise the suitable, perfect online setting for adult learners. Examined were a combination of learning theories, characteristics of a best online environment, facilitator feedback, and components warranting that materials stay current and relevant for existing educational practices.
For teacher effectiveness, the instructional style must meet learner needs and expectations. Learning strategies must prompt critical thinking, decision-making processes, and an order higher of thinking. The combined strategies interact to effect the perfect online environment. A cooperative and cohesive learning environment creates the platform for effective feedback between facilitator and student. Consistency in the development of what constitutes best practices exists with the use of current technological practices within a global network. A comprehensive, cooperative environment between facilitators and students is the nucleus for a sound learning structure.
Lindamarie Capatosto, Eric Flamer, Elizabeth Lee
August 12, 2013
AET 541 E-Learning
Building an Interactive Online Environment
Instructions For Ensuring the Course Has a Long Shelf Life
(Elizabeth Lee, 2013)
To meet the needs of all students, instructors need to understand how learning occurs. Learning theories provide insight into the complex processes and factors that influence learning and provide invaluable information which can be used to design instruction that will produce optimal results (Elizabeth Lee, 2013). "If instructional strategies are not grounded in an understanding of how learning occurs, they are unproductive and do little to affect learner persistence"(Stavredes, 2011, p.33). A successful online learning experience should incorporate a combination of components from each of the 3 learning theories. “Behaviorists' strategies can be used to teach the “what” (facts), cognitive strategies can be used to teach the “how” (processes and principles), and constructivist strategies can be used to teach the “why” (higher level thinking that promotes personal meaning and situated and contextual learning)” (Alzaghoul, 2013). In the diagram to the left you can see how behaviorist and constructivist theories influence the learning environment (Elizabeth Lee, 2013).
Another very important factor in developing a successful online learning experience is community. The learning community must be established and nurtured. Online students need a way to get to know the instructor, and their classmates (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011). Instructors must employ techniques that allow them to develop their presence while also delivering content that promotes understanding and makes the lessons more engaging and fun! Instructors can incorporate such tools as Social media, Icebreakers, cartoons, simulations, and games to inspire collaboration among students, encourage students to interact with each other, and help build a community of learners. To the left is a Webliography of such tools that can be used to cultivate community in the online
The use of technology is ever changing and promotes engaged and interactive communication within the learning environment. By using various technological tools, and digital communication systems, the instructor can enhance student collaboration and participation. Learning occurs through Internet use and other social media networks (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011). Learning effectiveness reflects through collaboration, knowledge, and understanding (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011). Here you can see a diagram that shows the many ways that technology can be used to create an interactive online environment (Hews, 2013).
In the online environment students need more feedback and support than in a traditional course to avoid the students feeling alienated in the Virtual Classroom. Instructors need to provide feedback and communicate to the online learner in such a way that they engage and motivate . Using effective feedback and communication strategies allows the instructor to identify and meet student needs as well as encourages students to participate at a high quality level (Stavredes, 2011). By imbedding opportunities for review and reflection into the course curriculum, instructors can ensure that they are meeting their students needs and providing ample opportunities for content mastery (National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, 2005). Here you can see a video on effective methods for delivering feedback in online instruction (You Tube, 2011).
One of the most important things an instructor must do to maintain an effective online learning environment is to stay relevant. They need to stay abreast of new technological developments, instructional methods, and keep up with any and all changes in their fields of instruction, to ensure they are providing students with the best educational experience possible. Integrating technology and leading through innovative practices are components of 21st century educators (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011). Online instructors should continually research best practices and advancements to ensure that the information and instruction they are sharing with their students is the best it can be. To the left you can see a table that explains some of the current instructional methods, techniques, and tools
being used in online education (Southern
Oregon University, 2009).
Another factor Instructors need to consider is how personalized the learning environment is. Students need to feel welcomed and comfortable in their new classroom, and there are several approaches that instructors can use to distinguish the environment and make it more inviting for students. Instructors can use such tools as icebreakers, social media, games and simulations to make the learning experience more fun and meaningful for students, and to accommodate multiple learning styles as well (Stavredes, 2011). To the left you can see a diagram of technological tools that could be useful in personalizing an online classroom.
(Elizabeth Lee, 2013)
(Southern Oregon University, 2009, p.5)
To ensure that an online class has a long shelf life there are a few strategies that you can incorporate and implement. One such strategies is to make sure that your class has timeless knowledge. This means that although times change, it is important to keep the topics of the class relevant to general ideas that will remain constant in the pedagogy of the instructional curriculum. Such timeless pieces of knowledge include, theories and philosophies that have proven applicable over decades to a variety of situations (i.e. Learning Theories). Another strategy Instructors should employ to ensure a course relevant is to keep up on the newest things! When a facilitator is always growing and learning the new technologies they are walking hand and hand with their students. By keeping up with the newest techniques and technologies instructors can ensure that they continue to grow as professionals and that they are providing their students with the best education possible.
Elizabeth Lee, 2013
Alzaghoul, A. (2013).The implication of the learning theories on the implementing E-learning courses. Retrieved from http://ijj.acm.org/volumes/volume2/issue2/ijjvol2no5.pdf
Elizabeth Lee. (2013).Feedback and communication report. Retrieved from http://prezi.com/y8jupjqktozk/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
Elizabeth Lee. (2013). Learning theory and e-learning. Retrieved from http://infogr.am/Learning-Theories-and-E-Learning-bea19lee_1373169868/
Elizabeth Lee. (2013). Webliography. Retrieved from http://prezi.com/z3yuydjckgjy/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share
Haythornthwaite, C., & Andrews, R. (2011). E-learning theory & practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hews, J. (2013). Photo credit: Personal learning environment. Retrieved from http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/how-to-create-a-personal-learning-environment-to-stay-relevant-in-2013/
National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. (2005). Reflection in Higher-Education service learning. Retrieved from http://www.servicelearning.org/instant_info/fact_sheets/he_facts/he_reflection
Southern Oregon University. (2009). Best practices in online course design and delivery. Retrieved from http://www.sou.edu/distancelearning/SOU%20DEC%20Best%20Practices.pdf
Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
You Tube. (2011). Providing effective feedback in online classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=xDw6ONhd5ys