Developing an online course is a serious undertaking. It takes time, energy, focus, and constant upgrades and changes to make online learning successful. A solid understanding of how students learn differently is the beginning.
There are 3 basic theories of learning: objectivism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Objectivism is the theory that learning happens when you can observe and measure changes (Dabbagh, 2006). Cognitivism is the theory that learning happens when the learner is active in the process of learning (Dabbagh, 2006). Cognitivism is the theory that learning happens when “tasks are authentic and meaningful and in realistic settings” (Dabbagh, 2006). One other theory of learning is connectivism which is relatively new since our world has recently become digital and extremely connected (Bates, 2015). Connectivism is the theory that learning happens when the learner makes meaningful and successful connections between ideas. For the development of my blended course, I leaned toward the constructivist theory. Students created or constructed projects that directly allowed them to learn the ins and outs of a popular presentation software programs, Microsoft PowerPoint.
After researching and determining the most appropriate instructional design, it was time to create the course. Using a backwards design template like UbD (Understanding by Design), I started with then end in mind. Then, I added in activities and materials that would allow students to meet and final goal. The three column table is another way to develop a course using backwards design. Keeping the end in mind will help course developers stay on target.
Today’s learners are growing up in a world where technology is literally at their fingertips for the majority of their day. Seeing the role that technology plays in a student’s daily life, education can’t be far behind. Technology and media that is useful and informational must be readily available for student access in and out of the classroom. Learning can literally take place anywhere.
Students are not the only learners that need guidance and assistance when participating in an online course. Teachers need professional development over technology that is relevant, appropriate, and applicable starting with the basics. Bates says “It is much more cost-effective to provide adequate initial pre-service training so that learning technology units can concentrate on training, professional development and R&D into new methods of teaching and learning as new technologies develop” (2015). So many of the teachers on my campus fear technology mainly because most of their students have a higher level of understanding for the devices themselves. If teachers know how to use technology and media properly, then they can focus their time and energy of effectively integrating it into lessons and activities for their students.
Overall, there are a number of factors that play into developing a successful online or blended course. Educators have to be willing to play a number of roles when developing these types of courses. Through professional development and constant communication with students, online and blended learning can be successful with any age group.
Bates, A.W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
Dabbagh, N. (2006). The instructional design knowledge base. Retrieved from http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/IDKB/models_theories.htm