For this e-learning webinar, I opted to use a PowerPoint presentation with voice-over information. By doing so, I am addressing learning styles of those who learn best through auditory or visual means, or, for learners like myself, those who learn best with mixed methods. In addition, because the PowerPoint presentation can be printed or saved to a portable drive, it is a medium that can be viewed and re-viewed at the learner’s leisure. Furthermore, the PowerPoint presentation can be shared with others who may be interested in the content of the presentation.Because much of the advice I am providing came from peer-reviewed, scholarly sources, I feel confident it would be considered valid and sound. Along with journal articles, I drew information from the three textbooks assigned for this course.
According to Palloff and Pratt (2001) one of the first things an instructor new to online learning must recognize is that the roles of the teacher and the student must change. Because of the prior experiences of teachers and students, "students expect to be 'taught' and faculty expect to 'teach'" (Palloff & Pratt, 2001, p. 153). Those expectations can vary dramatically in online learning where students are expected to become more autonomous and independent, and instructors become more facilitators or mentors than teachers (Maeroff, 2003). Coppola, Hiltz, and Rotter assert in their 2002 study that the online environment does not allow for nonverbal communication such as facial expressions and gestures, and students do not have the benefit of voice inflection and tone to serve as nonverbal signals. In light of those changes, the instructor is charged with having to create and maintain an online environment reflective of his or her expectations and teaching style. Palloff and Pratt (2001) said, "faculty development concerns include the importance of customizing an online course developed by another entity or faculty member, dealing with students and student problems in the online classroom, working with online classroom dynamics, and matching the ways to use technology and approaches to teaching in order to address student learning styles" (p. 154).
According to Broadbent (2002), teachers who were successful in the classroom have more than likely demonstrated mastery of basic skills such as introducing new topics, maintaining student attention, keeping students on task, and summarizing learning, all of which are equally important in e-learning. Unlike most brick and mortar classrooms, online classes utilize communication mediums such as e-mail, discussion boards, chat rooms, videoconferences, podcasts, etc., so teachers should make every attempt to master those forms of communication prior to the beginning of their courses (Maeroff, 2003). Maeroff further recommends that instructors become well-versed on the institution’s management software that drives the delivery of the courses (2002). In order to best direct students to research that supports the online curriculum, Coppola, Hiltz, & Rotter (2002) suggest that instructors themselves become master searchers, and they should be aware of a wealth of different databases and search engines to assist students when needed.
Broadbent (2002) suggests that many of the same techniques used in regular classrooms would also be appropriate to engage online learners. These techniques include: brainstorming, case studies, drill and practice, games, projects, guided research, hands-on activities, scavenger hunts, scenarios, seminars, virtual laboratories, and webcasts. Burch and Nagy (2007) emphasize the importance of interaction and contend that e-learners should interact with the instructor, other students, texts and reading materials, and online resources. Furthermore, Burch and Nagy (2007) propose that teachers infuse their interactions with not only open-ended tasks, but with open-ended feedback as well that will drive students toward further study after the completion of a task. Palloff and Pratt (2001) advise instructors to require collaboration among their students by stating “collaborative learning processes help students to achieve deeper levels of knowledge generation through the creation of shared goals, shared exploration, and a shared process of meaning-making” (p. 32). They further warn that without collaboration, students are less inclined to participate and more inclined to direct questions directly to the instructor rather than seeking answers through dialogue with other students or through self-study. Finally, Palloff and Pratt state that students “should be encouraged to reflect on their own learning process, how learning with the use of technology has affected that process either positively or negatively, and what they might have learned about the technology itself by using it to learn” (2001, p. 33). Through the reflection process, students can be transformed from simply students to potentially lifelong learners.
Citing the 1996 work of Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, and Turoff, Palloff and Pratt encourage broad evaluation that includes evaluation of the students’ progress, the instructor’s methods and competence, the content of the course and the methods of delivery, and any technologies used or explored (2001). Buzzetto-More and Alade (2006) further recommend that evaluation should be far-reaching and should include opportunities for students to evaluate their own work and the work of their fellow students. Furthermore, Buzzetto-More and Alade (2006) cite Ridgway, McCusker, and Pead (2004) as suggesting that e-assessment “should encourage the rethinking of curriculum, e-learning, and technology and explain that e-assessment is flexible and supports the assessment of higher-order thinking, social skills, and group work through such means as digital portfolios” (p. 256). Digital portfolios, because they are data- and multimedia-oriented, because they are easily accessible and easily shared, because they are easily stored, and because they can document student achievement, are great evaluation tools for e-learners (Buzzetto-More & Alade, 2006).
In Broadbent’s text, she outlines seven e-learning benefits to instructors. These benefits include: 1) the ability for instructors to access their course and their students at any time and through any location; 2) the benefit of allowing students to access pre-determined information on their own time frames so that instructors can spend their time honing their delivery methods or curriculum activities; 3) the documentation of discussions and assignments available anytime and anywhere; 4) the gratification that comes through learner participation and knowledge acquisition; 5) the elimination of expensive travel and time constraints of traditional classroom instruction; 6) the encouragement of instructors to remain current on new technologies and Internet resources; and 7) the opportunity to engage in in-depth discussions with students who have the time to think and reflect before discussing (2002).
Elison-Bowers, Henderson, Sand, and Osgood published an article in 2010 outlining many challenges instructors face in an online classroom. One challenge is the instructor’s inability to accentuate his or her instruction with visual or nonverbal cues. To offset this challenge, Broadbent (2002) suggests the use of emoticons to replace the typical cues used when speaking face-to-face. Another challenge to e-learning instructors is managing time and assignments. The authors of the article suggest that deadlines be set in the syllabus and reiterated regularly through weekly announcements posted on the course home page or sent via email. Technical difficulties are a given when participating in e-learning. To keep technical issues from crippling the online program, instructors should become familiar with all aspects of the technology used throughout the course. Furthermore, because there may be downtime for technology updates, maintenance, and/or repair, instructors should post policies for such instances in the event they interfere with pre-determined deadlines. Student preparation (or lack thereof) can pose a problem in the online classroom. Because students come to the table with widely varying degrees of technical competence and self-motivation, instructors should frequently remind students of upcoming deadlines and that online learning requires a significant amount of autonomy and self-discipline on the part of the students. Finally, with students participating a different times and at all times of the day due to varying time zones, building a sense of community can prove to be a challenge. Instructors can promote a sense of community through regular feedback via email and through assignments that require collaboration among students.
Roles<br />Move from teaching to facilitating/guiding/<br /> mentoring/coaching<br />Create and maintain online environment and learning community in the absence of nonverbal cues<br />Participate in professional development <br />
Skills Required<br />Basic classroom skills<br />Electronic communication skills<br />Thorough knowledge of management software<br />Research skills<br />
Engaging Learners<br />Many traditional classroom engagement strategies work to engage e-learners<br />Interaction with instructor, students, course materials, and online resources<br />Open-ended tasks and feedback<br />Collaboration with fellow students<br />Reflection on the learning process<br />
Evaluation<br />Students, instructors, the course, and the technology used should be subjects of evaluation<br />Along with instructor evaluation, students should have opportunities to assess themselves and even their peers<br />Digital portfolios are an effective evaluation tool<br />
Instructor Benefits<br />Convenient access<br />Pre-packaging of information to allow focus elsewhere<br />Record retention<br />Personal gratification<br />Reduces travel costs<br />Encourages access to new electronic resources<br />Allows for more engaging communication<br />
Challenges<br />Communication without nonverbal cues<br />Time and assignment management<br />Technology issues<br />Student preparation<br />Building a sense of community<br />
References<br />References <br />Broadbent, B. (2002). ABCs of e-learning: Reaping the benefits and avoiding the pitfalls. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.<br />Burch, T., & Nagy, J. (2007). Tipping points in online-mediated learning environments: Strategies for student engagement in a conceptual framework for e-learning. International Journal of Learning, 13(12), 7-15. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=54a93bae-fefa-48c2-a3ee-60a71459bace%40sessionmgr13&vid=20&hid=9<br />Buzzetto-More, N. A., & Alade, A. J. (2006). Best practices in e-assessment. Journal of Information Technology Education, 5, 251-269. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=54a93bae-fefa-48c2-a3ee-60a71459bace%40sessionmgr13&vid=33&hid=9<br />Coppola, N. W., Hiltz, S. R., & Rotter, N. G. (2002, Spring). Becoming a virtual professor: Pedagogical roles and asynchronous learning networks. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18(4), 169-189. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=54a93bae-fefa-48c2-a3ee-60a71459bace%40sessionmgr13&vid=7&hid=9<br />Elison-Bowers, P., Henderson, K., Sand, J., & Osgood, L. (2010). Resolving instructor challenges in the online classroom. International Journal of Learning, 17(1), 339-346. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e4e2cd5d-aad1-436e-a0f6-a06e268fefbb%40sessionmgr4&vid=30&hid=9<br />Maeroff, G. I. (2003). A Classroom of One (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. (Original work published 2002)<br />Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the Cyberspace Classroom: The Realities of Online Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.<br />