The reflection this week is guided by the following questions:
- Reflecting on the information covered in this module, how might your instructional methodologies need to change in an online or blended learning environment?
- What skills and strategies might you improve or expand upon in order to best support student learning in a blended or online environment?
Having a good foundation and understanding of effective instructional methodologies and strategies is key to any learning environment. In an online or blended learning environment, much of this does not change but the online component does require an awareness and often a change of methodology. During this module, we reviewed four emerging models (flex, rotation, self-blend, and online lab) where either all or part of the student contact time is online. Whether it is the online component of the blended classroom, or a fully online course, attention to the following areas can be noted:
- Communication-students will expect, and within reason should expect, regular feedback and replies to their questions and assignments. Parameters should be set so that student expectations are reasonable to keep the pace and progress of the course. This is the same for a face-to-face course, but in an online course there is a bit more urgency due to the 24/7 nature of being online.
- Class Discussions-guiding online discussions require closer attention to keeping on topic and moderating discussions towards the lesson objectives. Since several students can post at once, versus just one student being called on at a time, this can be challenging but also can lead to very rich and informative discussions.
- Assessment-not being able to adjust on the fly based on facial cues and body language as in a face-to-face class, the teacher needs to interact and question students to ensure understanding in ongoing assessments. Pre and post assessments remain largely the same.
There are other instructional methodologies that need to change, but those are a few of the areas that came to mind after reviewing this module. Depending on the course and the students themselves, other strategies can be effective as well.
Personally, the skills and strategies I can improve on revolve around stability and keeping on top changing educational technology and course design. In an online course, students can be left feeling isolated and not part of the class if the teacher does not maintain a regular presence online. Replying to forum posts, returning assignments in a timely manner, maintaining regular “office hours”, and personalizing lessons can help offer this stability. When designing courses, an awareness of these factors can help make for a more interesting and engaging experience for the teacher and students. To some extent the LMS (learning management system) maybe set so there is only a limited number of ways to set up the online environment, but this is where knowing what does and does not work related to instructional design is valuable.