Setting Up an Online Learning Experience (EIDT 6510)

Posted: May 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

This week, I have responded to a few questions related to considerations for the launching of an online learning experience.

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

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Image credit:   edtechtimes.com

When it comes to the use of technology in the online classroom the facilitator must consider whether a tool or application is necessary, effective, and appropriate.  Boettcher and Conrad (2010) suggested that in the beginnings of a course simpler tools should be used compared to the possible use of more complex tools as the course progresses.  However, the facilitator should also consider whether a tool should be used at all.  Michelle Harven stated in her EdTech Times blog that, “If students aren’t proficient in their studies to begin with and technology is used incorrectly, a whole mess of problems could arise” (2013, November 6).  But knowing the technology that is available provides the facilitator with the ability to make the best choice for the learning situation.  Therefore, keeping up on advances in technology and technology tools, being an education technophile, will be paramount.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

clear-expectations-+-clear-communication-clear-outcome.001

Communicating clear expectations to learners in the online environment is critical to supporting their success, as it is in virtually any venture.  In my opinion, an expectation that is unspoken is an expectation one cannot necessarily expect to be met, unless it could be argued that it is reasonable  for the learner to have inferred the expectation from the available information or the historical pattern of previous expectations.  As a best practice, a facilitator should set “clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they should expect from an instructor” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 55) as one of many strategies to establish a safe and effective online learning community.

What else should the facilitator consider when setting up an online learning experience?

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The actions that the facilitator takes to set the tone at the start of a course to connect with learners and create, foster, and establish the learning community will greatly increase the learners’ chances of success in the online environment.   Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt discussed several tips in their video, Launching the Online Learning Experience, most of which revolve around connecting with the learners on a personal level (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  A sampling of these tips for the facilitator is provided below:

  • Ask students to post a personal bio and refer to the bios as needed to personalize comments and replies throughout the course.
  • When a student bio is too brief, ask non-threatening, open-ended questions to elicit more information.
  • Use students’ names as soon as possible at the beginning of the course.
  • Make comments specific to the student, rather than using canned responses.
  • Use a fun, non-threatening icebreaker to help students begin to learn about each other and about you.
  • Establish presence in the course from the beginning.

On a personal note, I am excited about the topics of creating a presence in the online classroom and creating an online learning community as I feel comfortable with this type of approach.  I am one who misses the personal connection of the traditional brick and mortar classroom so I always make an effort to connect with others in my online classes by finding ways to let my personality be known through my discussions posts/replies and through my blog entries.  One of my goals is to interject humor, whimsy, and fun whenever possible (and appropriate, of course!).  So in keeping with this goal, here is a Bit O’Fun with which to send you on to the rest of your day…

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References

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

Harven, M. (2013, November 6). Top 5 problems with technology in education today. [Blog entry]. Retrieved from http://edtechtimes.com/2013/11/06/top-5-problems-technology-education-today/

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

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Comments
  1. millanlu says:

    I think you take the right approach when doing fun and humorous things in a course. That will make things not so threatening and students relax and know that they can make jokes to you too. I have that attitude to my students, but also let them know that I am serious with deadlines, assignments and so on, that is not a joke. I experience that students dare to talk to me, ask questions, make joke and they also hand in their assignments in time (at least most of them). So, keep up the fun!

    /Millan

  2. Hi Lorena.

    It seems our thoughts run along the same wavelengths. Interesting post. I love the last graphic!

    Katrina

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