As I think about how I’ve planned my online course, I realize that I have strived to emulate a lot of what I’ve experienced as a student in the Digital Learning and Leading program. Every course that I have taken in this program has challenged me to learn skills on my own, at the level where I am. There are students in my classes with far more educational experience and technical savvy than I have, yet I am able to take the same courses with them and build on my own knowledge and experiences to learn and move forward. We all come from different backgrounds, teach different subjects to different grade levels, but we can still collaborate and learn from each other. This is what I want to create in my own courses because I have seen first-hand how well it works and how empowering it is from the student perspective.
In my course, I chose to use Fink’s 3-column table as my instructional design model. I could also use UbD for an online course, but I prefer the 3-column table because it is simple and incorporates the learning goals that I feel are the most important: foundational, application, integration, human dimensions and caring, and probably the most important: learning how to learn. The assessment and learning activities are built around those learning goals. I used the 3-column table to build my Radiography course online, and it now meets all the learning goals I want to incorporate. Before learning to use the table, my Radiography course focused too much on foundational knowledge and application, but largely left out the other goals.
Planning and implementing online learning from a leadership perspective requires that everyone (admin, teachers, IT) work together and maintain the same focus. Professional Development will be vital in order to get everyone on the same page. In one of our videos this week, Don Knezek, discusses the importance of co-learning (teacher-student, student-student and teacher-educational peers) because in our digital age, everyone has access to so much information; teachers can’t expect to be all-knowing experts on their topics (ChangSchool, 2011). We need to adopt a Constructivist mindset because we can learn so much from each other; utilizing discussion boards properly can help facilitate co-learning. Another way to utilize technology for co-learning is discussed in the video on Omaha public schools and how they use Office 365 to collaborate: teachers from all grade levels can use Office 365 to communicate with each other and share tools that will make them more effective teachers (Microsoft in Education, 2016).
According to Bates (2015), quality can be defined as “teaching methods that successfully help learners develop the knowledge and skills they will require in a digital age”. Not all online courses provide these skills, and I believe this is where some people become misguided into thinking that online courses are inferior to traditional face-to-face ones. Online courses are so new that quality assurance practices are just now catching up and being implemented. Only a few states currently have specific requirements for teachers who are teaching online (iNACOL, 2015). Since online teaching requires different skills, it makes sense to ensure that an online course is designed specifically for an online environment for it to be successful. I want to hold myself accountable for the online courses I design, and also help my colleagues design better, more effective online courses that rival or even surpass the quality of traditional classroom courses. This takes the cooperation of many people at our institution: our Academic Dean, Program Director, IT, and the instructors.
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning (Chapters 11-12). Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
iNACOL (2015). How to Start and Online Learning Program: A Practical Guide to Key Issues and Policies. Retrieved from http://www.onlineprogramhowto.org
Microsoft in Education. (2016). Omaha Public Schools turn to Office 365 to streamline professional development. [Video File] retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ3fv3n9RFs
ChangSchool. (2011). Perspectives: Teacher skills in a digital age. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_BJcRVYQsE