As an Assistant Instructional Designer at a University, I can see online/ blended learning is growing every year. Students love the flexibility that online courses provide. Which what my classmates Kyla and Scott appreciate and like in their blog posts. Blended learning offers new ways of engagements, and opens a new range of possibilities. It reaches a wide variety of different learners characteristics like students with disabilities or introverts. From personal experience, online learning was a huge success for my high school son. He is an introvert and doesn’t like to take notes. He doesn’t remember anything that was mentioned in the class. He doesn’t want to ask questions or for help. We thought of online courses, and he took ELA over the summer. The ability to replay a video or go over the materials as many times as he wants was a game changer for him. He liked this so much that we are now thinking of switching him to homeschooling so he can take more free online classes over the next year.
Integrating tools in online learning has many advantages in enhancing the learning experience and creating a good and personalized learning environment for students. The trick is how to use a suitable tool for our goal. We need to reach the needs of every learner through combining different learning strategies and different pedagogy strategies coupled with the use of technology. Another way of selecting a suitable mix for a learning environment is to look at the pedagogy goals and selecting the tools we would like to adapt accordingly. Also, we should ask ourselves why we choose to use a tool? What problem do we think it solves? Educational Technology is advertised as revolutionary and innovative just by nature. The tech itself isn’t revolutionizing education that takes people. The best thing we can do is to discuss the pedagogy. What pedagogical issues do we have? Then choose an e-learning tool based on that, which can be as simple as a smart board. In this case, the chosen eLearning tool will affect our learning experience In the Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching by Jim Henry and Jeff Meadows; it is mentioned that “Technology is a vehicle, not a destination… Rather, aspects of technology – like all components of an effective course – should be chosen according to how they help meet the learning objectives.”
EC&I 833 is the first online course I take. I took many MOOC’s, workshops, and online training before. Using the right tools with elearning brings the best of the classroom and online education. In my view, the most significant advantage of this mix which is that it retains the human connection between the student and the instructor. Zoom video conference tool can help us achieve that.
At the beginning of EC & I 833, I didn’t know how should I write or interact but I think I am doing better now. It is an excellent way to share our thoughts and opinions, we can leave comments to each other, and the best part that makes it different than a regular discussion forum in a learning management system like Moodle is adding resources like videos, infographics, hyperlinks, and photos. Adding these visual and auditorial resources helps us reach people by saying more with less. There is no limitation to the number of resources we can add to our blogs, which is Twitter can’t provide with the number of character limitation that forces you to be short but at the same time on the target. I have a Twitter account since 2009. I was a silent follower and observer until this class. I had a hard time in the beginning to interact and tweet, but it is getting more comfortable every day. I find Twitter has a huge amount of accessible information. Getting professional feedback in any subject matter is a big plus I see in Twitter.
Let me discuss two specific tools: Zoom and Blogging.
Zoom is a source of interaction and to humanize the experience for his students, which I like and appreciate. The national survey for student engagement reported that
Also, while presenting our group presentation, we aren’t just presenting and talking to a computer, we are actually presenting to real people that can stop us, ask questions or even run a discussion with built-in features like breakout rooms or the chat function. It can be used as a synchronous and asynchronous tool
I use Zoom a lot in my job. I create instructional videos for instructors or to meet with them. Most instructors like it and use it with their students in the online classes they teach. We don’t use blogging or Twitter as we are limited with what URcourse can provide us. I saw some instructors using WIKI and OneNote with big success in engaging their students.
Blogging is another tool we use in this course. In the Blended Learning Design Planner, V1.2 Resource PackIt by the University of Birmingham “Blogs offer students, academics, staff, and others a high level of autonomy and freedom, while creating a new opportunity for interaction with peers. They provide a far-reaching forum for discussion that goes beyond coursework to include culture, politics, and other areas of personal exploration. Students often learn as much from each other as from tutors or textbooks, and blogs offer an effective medium for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and application.”
It is the first time for me to write blogs. Although it is my first class, I can feel the sense of the community support from my classmates. Words like a” great post” or “good thoughts” followed by a strong opinion and mutual interests discussion make me feel part of a supported community.
Online/ Blended learning like any other thing has its own positive and negative sides, but from my son and I, personal experiences advantages were way more. I know I may take some online classes that will not be as engaging and exciting like this class, but for the benefits of flexibility, being able to take the class while being close to my kids, and not have to drive in the Winter to attend my class. I will keep taking them and look for them everytime I register for a class.