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Fernando Dickens Walden University 2012Best Practice Guide
Converting to a distance learning formatScenario: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communicationamong trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new.With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modulesto a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunityto interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and onlineenvironment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on aserver so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.In this scenario, the training manager has to determine the best alternative for theconversion to the blended learning environment. The following questions areaddressed: What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program? What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format? How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment? What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online? What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program? For successful learning to take place, it is vital to determine what works and whatneeds to be improved. Evaluation leads to revision of instruction, and revision of
Converting to a distance learning formatinstruction helps secure the final outcome of helping students learn (Smaldino, Lowther,& Russell, 2007). The process of systematic planning for instruction is the outcome ofmany years of research and a critical part of the process is to consider the componentsof a successful learning system (Dick et al, 2009). Before converting the face-to-facetraining sessions to the blended format, the manager must consider the learners thatwill participate in the sessions, the content to be presented, the method of delivery, andthe environment (Simonson et al, 2012). Considerations Issues to AddressLearner Number of Students General Characteristics Cultural, social and economic backgroundContent Nature of content Sequence of Information Concept, knowledge, and specific skills need to be identified (Dick et al, 2009)Method of Deliver Strategies that Engage the Learner Media and availability of resources for creating media and technologies VisualsEnvironment Technology – student knowledge Resources – availability Setting where training will take place
Converting to a distance learning format Next, blended learning occurs when students debate and discuss scholarly ideas in an asynchronous forum and then bring in the instructor for a synchronous chat orvideo conference. Blended courses can be employed when the instructor feels that theonline activities are more productive learning experiences for students. A blendedlearning environment is associated with face-to-face instruction that incorporates someform of technology-based learning experience, either inside or outside the classroom(Simonson et al, 2012). In other words both face-to-face and online learning. This willrequire that the course manager develop content that can be utilized to accommodateboth forms of instruction. The content must be organized and sequenced with anorientation toward prescribed outcomes (Dabbagh & Bannan-Ritland, 2005). Lastly, since the materials will be stored on a server, course managementsystems (CMS) offer components that structure the resources for deliver (Simonson etal, 2012) and are a valuable tool to incorporate into a distance learning experience.This will allow the instructor to track student progress as well as give the students theoption of being able to log on and work anytime, anyplace, and anywhere.
Converting to a distance learning formatWhat aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distancelearning format? First, what is essential is that students understand how the course willfunction so that they can be better prepared to participate (Simonson et al, 2012). Thesyllabus is the single most important document an instructor can prepare (Simonson etal, 2012). Next, instructional materials are an essential element to ensuring quality learningexperiences (Herring & Smaldino, 2001; Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2011).Materials should be designed to engage the learner as well as exploring content. Lastly, teaching methods should be chosen based on the characteristics of theinstructor, students, content, and delivery system. Both environments suggest the needfor careful design of instruction (Herring & Smaldino, 2001). Just-in-time learning is aphrase used most often by trainers in private business which provides instruction in theform of online modules specific to the topic (Simonson et al, 2012).How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?The role of the instructor will continue to shift and change in a blended online learningenvironment. Because of the delivery of instruction, instructors must develop or possess
Converting to a distance learning formatskills in multiple teaching and learning environments. Instead of reducing theimportance of the instructor, access to an instructor is more essential. In effect, asblended learning nurtures greater choices and learning opportunities, and variousinstructional skills will become more prominent, including coaching, mentoring, andcounseling (Bonk et al, n.d.).What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicateonline?Blended learning connects people, activities, and events. One of the most effectivetechniques to promote interaction in distance education is the threaded discussion(Simonson et al, 2012). Creating a learning community involves both the instructor andthe students (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). Several authors have suggested icebreakers as ameans to developing a community among the participants in the class (Conrad &Donaldson, 2004; Herring & Smaldino, 2001).REFERENCESSimonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning ata distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.Herring, M. & Smaldino, S. (2001), Planning for interactive distance education: Ahandbook (2nd ed). Bloomington, IN: AECT Publications.Smaldino, S., Lowther, D., & Russell, J. (2007). Instructional technology and media forlearning (9th ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ; Prentice Hall.
Converting to a distance learning formatDick, W., Carey, L. & Carey J.O. (2009). The systematic design of instruction (7th ed.),New York; Longman.Dabbagh, N., & Bannan-Ritland, B. (2005). Students’ perception of online courses; Theeffect of online course experience. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10(1), 9-26.Smaldino, S., Lowther, D., & Russell, J. (2011). Instructional technology and media forlearning (10th ed., Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice Hall.Bonk, Curtis J., Kim, Kyong-Jee,& Zeng, Tingting (n.d.), Future Directions of BlendedLearning in Higher Education and Workplace Learning Settings; Retreived 12 April 2012from http://www.publicationshare.com/c083_bonk_future.pdf