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Transcript of "Literature review"
1. Online Teaching Delivery Literature Review Lynn Huguenin – Innovation Department GippsTAFE GippsTAFE has been delivering online educational programs for a number of years with a high degree of success. Many of these programs are based on a fully facilitated model with a focus on building online communities. As more teachers at GippsTAFE are embedding various degrees of online technologies into their educational programs a team from the Innovation Department at GippsTAFE is taking the opportunity to review current literature to identify what makes a good online teacher and strategies that contribute to a successful online teaching program. Brindley, Walti & Blaschke (2009), state that providing access to content is not the basis for an online course; engagement and interaction is what is important. They say that “Quality learning environments include opportunities for students to engage in interactive and collaborative activities with their peers; such environments have been shown to contribute to better learning outcomes, including development of higher order thinking skills” (p. 2). A review of the current literature confirmed this belief and identified a list of strategies that contribute to the success of online courses. This list varied slightly for different programs but a number of items were consistently identified as being key factors for success. An analysis of this list identified three key skills a teacher would need to demonstrate so that they could successfully implement these strategies. These are: • Communication • Organisation • Flexibility According to Henry & Meadows (2008), technology contributes to the success or failure of on online program but was not found to be the most important aspect. They suggest technology is the means to an end, not the end itself. Subsequently it could be argued that teachers need to think about what they want to achieve and then choose from the available technology in order to achieve their goals. Moreover, © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 1 of 7
educational design and the facilitation of the program are more crucial to overall success. During a review of online education at Swinburne University of Technology Weaver, Spratt & Nair (2008), found that staff identified technical issues as a significant concern when teaching online, whereas students in the online programs saw things from a different perspective and wanted the teaching staff to engage with them in a more meaningful way. Jones & Lau, from the University of Glamorgan, believe that online teachers do not need to be experts in the area of technology but they do need a positive attitude and be comfortable with using it (2009). Communication Well developed communication skills are essential for the online teacher. These skills allow the teacher to “get to know” their students and build a sense of trust even if they never meet face to face. Henry & Meadows(2008) have developed nine principles for excellence in online teaching. Principle 5 states that “Sense of community and social presence are essential to online excellence”. Their research indicates that effective and ongoing communication with participants will help to achieve this sense of community and highlight the importance of regularly using student names. They believe that the teacher should provide clear and concise instructions and information, which is strategically placed throughout the course platform, as well as giving the online students the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification as needed. Further, they recommend that the teacher should clearly state the objectives and goals of the online course. They also discuss the need for the teacher to be aware of the mood of the class and go on to say that this is more difficult in the online environment where much of the activity is conducted asynchronously. In addition to this they say that the teacher needs to take note of all forms of communication and respond appropriately in order to support the needs of the whole group as well as those of individual students. Eichler et al (2009), talk of the need for the teacher to model best practice when communicating with their online students. They exemplify this model by teaching the students how to respond to one another so that © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 2 of 7
the value and quality of online discussion is increased. Baker (2010), takes this one step further and recommends the teacher establish class rules or online etiquette. Organisation The online teacher will also need good organisational skills. There are two aspects to this. When designing and setting up the online course platform and program, the online teacher will need to organise the course content into chunks and sequence this with activities and assessment tasks in a logical manner. This should be done in a way that makes it easy for the learner to navigate through the online course platform. The online teacher will also need to organise their own work practices, setting aside time to support their online students. In her article, “10 Things I Have Learned about Teaching Online”, Everson (2009) points out that some students will need extra motivation to keep them focussed during their online studies. She believes that the online teacher can provide this by careful choice and structuring of online activities, as well as responding promptly to the students’ contributions to the online learning environment. She also identifies that setting appropriate timelines, that take into account the work pace required, is a good strategy. In his online teaching course Ragan (2007), identifies instructor best practice as setting timelines and sticking to them, informing the class when the instructor will be logging in, advising students of any changes to this established schedule and responding to emails and other communication within clearly defined time frames. Flexibility Flexibility is the third attribute that the Innovation team at GippsTAFE have identified as being important for an online teacher. The online teacher needs to be able to take existing teaching practices, materials and learning activities and adapt them to the online learning environment. They also need to be flexible within their teaching practices, adapting what they do to cater for the individual needs of the online students. © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 3 of 7
Henry & Meadows (2009), point out that the online teacher cannot just take materials they use in the face to face teaching environment and put them online. Most resources will need to be adapted in some way before they are suitable for use in the online learning environment. Everson (2009), reminds us that not everything that works in the face to face environment will be successful online. She also talks of the need to gather feedback from students and make changes to the online program based on this information. In the online learning environment the role of the online teacher changes; as well as being a subject expert, they need to adapt their role to provide for the many and varied needs of their online students (Jones & Lau, 2009). Some of the commonly identified strategies for successful online facilitation do not fit neatly into just one of the three attributes the Innovation team at GippsTAFE identified. A particular strategy may require more than one of these identified attributes. For example Getzlaf et. al.(2009) talk about the need to provide feedback that is timely, individualised and meaningful, this requires the teacher to: • Have good communication skills to make the feedback meaningful • Have the ability to be flexible so that feedback can be tailored to the needs of the individual student • Be organised so the feedback can be provided in a timely manner. Conclusion A review of the current literature identified a range of teaching strategies that contribute to the success of an online program. These included: • Adapt resources, activities and teaching strategies from face to face to online (Everson, 2009). • Give timely feedback & assistance (Everson, 2009). • Feedback should be individualised (Henry & Meadows, 2009). • Inform students how often the instructor will be logging in and when (Ragan, 2007) (Everson, 2009). © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 4 of 7
• Motivate students to participate in online activities (Everson, 2009), (Mandernach, Gonzales & Garrett, 2006). • Set deadlines to pace online work (Everson, 2009), (Mandernach et al., 2006). • Gather feedback from students and make changes as required (Everson, 2009). • Share ideas and work as part of a team (Everson, 2009), (Henry & Meadows, 2009). • Develop accurate and explicit instructions (Everson, 2009). • Break content into chunks (Henry & Meadows, 2009). • Provide examples and model good practice (Eichler et al, 2009), (Mandernach et al., 2006). • Communicate clear expectations (Brindley et al., 2009). These strategies require the online teacher to be an excellent communicator with well developed organisational skills and the ability to be flexible. It is pleasing to note that many GippsTAFE online teachers already use at least some of these strategies when delivering online educational programs. Based on the findings of this literature review, the Innovation team at GippsTAFE will continue to advocate active facilitation to build communities in online educational programs. Online teachers at GippsTAFE will be encouraged to develop and adapt their communication and organisation skills to better support their online students. They will also be made aware of the varied needs of online students and be encouraged to adopt a flexible approach when teaching in the online environment. © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 5 of 7
Reference List Baker, C., (2010), The Impact of Instructor Immediacy and Presence for Online Student Affective Learning, Cognition, and Motivation. The Journal of Educators Online. 7 (1). 2-30. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.thejeo.com/Archives/Volume7Number1/BakerPaper.pdf Brindley, J. E., Walti, C., & Blaschke, L. M. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 10, (3). 1-18. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1313 Eichler, M. A., Bialek, T. K., Digby, C.L., Twohig, C., Githens, R. P., & Trinko, L. A. (2009). Building Success in Online Educational Programs for Adult Learners. The Adult Education Research Conference. 446-454. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.adulterc.org/Proceedings/2009/symposia/eichler.pdf Everson, M., (2009). 10 Things I've Learned About Teaching Online. eLearn Magazine. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=best_practices&article=57-1 Getzlaf, B., Perry, B., Toffner, G., Lamarche, K., & Edwards, M. (2009) Effective Instructor Feedback: Perceptions of Online Graduate Students. The Journal of Educators Online. 6 (2). 1-22. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.thejeo.com/Archives/Volume6Number2/GetzlafetalPaper.pdf © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 6 of 7
Henry, J., & Meadows, J. (2009). An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web- based teaching. Canadian Journal of Learning & Technology. 34 (1). Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/179/177 Jones, N., & Lau, A. (2009). E-Learning a Change Agent for Education? Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education. 1 (1). 40-48. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://gjarhe.research.glam.ac.uk/media/files/documents/2008-12- 22/JARHE_V1.1_Jan_09_Web_pp39-48.pdf Mandernach, B. J., Gonzales, R. M., & Garrett, A. L. (2006). An Examination of Online Instructor Presence via Threaded Discussion Participation. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 2 (4). Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://jolt.merlot.org/vol2no4/mandernach.htm Ragan, L., (2007). Best Practices in Teaching Online. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://cnx.org/content/col10453/latest/ Weaver, D., Spratt, C., & Nair, C. S. (2008). Academic and student use of a learning management system: Implications for quality. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 24 (1). 30-41. Retrieved 28 September, 2010, from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet24/weaver.pdf © GippsTAFE 2010 Online Teaching Delivery – Literature Review*5/10/10*Page 7 of 7