EDTECH 522 Reflection: Adult Online Teaching

Now that EDTECH 522 Online Teaching for Adult Learners is almost over students were asked to update their concept map of what online teaching is. Below is my updated concept map. It looks very different than my original concept map (available here). This map is simpler but contains what I think are more important concepts of teaching adult learners online. My original map was more about Knowles’ adult learning theory and online learning environments. I didn’t consider applying the community of inquiry model to online teaching. This is important because the instructor’s approach to course development will vary greatly depending on how they plan to develop cognitive, social, and teacher presence.  I also didn’t consider that learners at different stages of self-directed learning require different approaches from online teachers and different types of scaffolding.  I think I have captured those important elements in my updated concept map.

Adult online learning concept map

An online version of this image without grid lines is available here.

This course will have several impacts on my online teaching. I learned a lot about mechanisms/approaches to incorporate the community of inquiry model into online teaching. The Stavredes text contains excellent chapters on scaffolding strategies and ways to establish cognitive, teacher, and social presence. I will refer to these often in the future as I develop and modify my current online courses. Grow’s stages of self directed learning will also impact my future teaching. It is important to assess where your students are on this continuum as the teacher’s role changes based on stage. I really enjoyed developing the online module for this course. I wish I could use it in its current format in my current teaching but my institution doesn’t use Moodle. I will be able to use parts of it in what I teach. Finally, I enjoyed the discussion forums  in this course. Students underestimate the value of discussion forums. Sharing  and critiquing ideas is a powerful way to learn. My current online students don’t like to utilize discussion forums. They view it as busy work. I have tried to design the questions to be useful and based on application of knowledge not just regurgitation of knowledge; but to no avail. I think it takes a more meta-cognitively advanced student to understand the value of discussion forums.

 

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Reflection on developing an online learning module

online teaching

Developing online modules has becoming increasingly easier for me as I have created a fully online course (medicine.uabebm.com) and a blended course (uabpreop.com) at my institution. Both of those courses were built outside of a learning management system (LMS). I liked developing this online course using a LMS. It was easier to structure the material and the LMS is designed to best display learning materials. In the platforms I used to develop my other courses I had to work harder to develop a proper layout.

The most difficult part of this exercise was using Moodle in the instructor mode. Other than for this degree I don’t use Moodle. My institution uses an in-house developed LMS. I had to figure out how to do the things I needed to do in Moodle. Thankfully there are multiple videos on YouTube that helped the process.

I used adult learning theory principles to develop this course. The course uses a problem-based learning approach. I use several clinical cases that the learners must solve. The cases, while not real ones, are authentic and so learners will recognize why they need to know this information and will learn while solving problems. The information they gain in this course can immediately be used in their everyday clinical lives. They will need to use their clinical expertise and knowledge to learn in this course.

I try to apply the community of inquiry approach to my online teaching. I try to develop cognitive presence by using problem-based learning and reflection exercises. I try to develop social presence by using discussion boards and encouraging students to work together on the material. Finally, I try to develop instructor presence via video (both an introductory video and in each of the lesson videos) and feedback that will be given on assignments. This is somewhat the hardest part to establish in online courses. I have tried synchronous chats in the past but no students ever showed up for them (not required). I allow students to message me or email me with questions and I answer them within minutes usually.

Community of Inquiry Framework

Online teaching is much harder than face-to-face (F2F) instruction. In F2F instruction you can gauge student understanding by observing their facial expressions and by inviting questions. This can’t be done in online teaching. It’s easy to make an hour long slide show for F2F teaching. It’s much harder to break a lecture into all its component small parts and make individual lessons or videos for online teaching. Online assessment and feedback is harder than for F2F courses. Interestingly, I find online teaching much more rewarding. Maybe it’s because there is a tangible lesson out there on the web that I can click on and see whenever I want to. Learners from around the world can use my materials whereas a F2F lesson gets used by only a few. Maybe it’s because I feel I do a better job teaching online than I do F2F.

This was a useful exercise. The only regret I have is that I can’t directly use the materials in their current form as we don’t use Moodle.