This is my thoughtful reflection on the essence of an effective online course and course instructor.
It used to be enough to visit the library and spend time studying to know more about something. It was a more static, individual pursuit, unless working face-to-face with others. Teachers relied on paper-based resources, and students spent a lot of time passively participating in their learning and coursework. This is the classroom of the past...
Now, online courses have opened up the world of learning to all - in so many ways! The best aspects of F2F learning still exist as does F2F itself. But, online learning has changed, and I say improved, all of the ways in which learning can and does occur for students of all ages. Learners are involved, engaged, and able to know about endless topics and areas of interest. Instructors that are expert and know well how to keep their students involved and engaged are changing how F2F teaching & learning is used and perceived. All for the better.
Great course instructors know the learner must be involved from the beginning and throughout the course. From conceiving and designing a course that offers real world application & relevance, to authentic tasks & activities, to thoughtful engagement & relationship building, to course input & feedback, every aspect should be designed around the course intent & purpose that meets students' needs. It's clear and consistent, there's collaboration and engagement, and fair assessment.
Effective online course design is like great music: it is well written, enjoyable, interesting, life affirming, and long lasting. A strong and impactful online course instructor and developer is much like an orchestral conductor: expert, engaged, and working to ensure every aspect of the music comes to life beautifully in the same way the conductor has a strong relationship with each musician and knows how best to have them bring the composition to life - working individually to serve the group, working as a team to serve individuals and the world.
Pulling expertise and ideas from the best of the best of online teaching is important. Online instructors are managing the design as well as the technology, and being prepared and planned helps significantly. Using the ADDIE process is crucial, as is keeping in mind all relevant special considerations (communication, support, workspaces, etc.).Reflection & revision are ongoing and improve the course. Assessment is a meaningful and vital aspect of a good quality course, too, which a strong instructor knows. Like when working in a lab, the course designer needs to understand the formulas and equations that help solve problems also require outside expertise and collaboration to ensure advancement and accomplishment. I am dedicated to being an effective online teacher.
Today's courses look wildly different than those of even six months ago. It seems the entire world is learning online now, and not all of it meets students' needs or helps improve their understanding of core concepts. Using backward design, Universal Design, and what we know works well, to what we must do to meet students' intellectual and academic needs and goals, we have much to accomplish. The exciting part is there is so much potential and possibility! Empowered students thrive in a well designed online course that gives them a world of learning all in one place. That's my goal as an online teacher: changes lives for the better through engaging, well designed teaching. I'm dedicated to interesting, accessible & applicable. Let's go!