My reflections on Topic4

In my view (before this course), designing online courses is pretty much about the same thing as designing traditional teaching. The technology is used mainly as a medium for the traditional teaching. The different tools will enable the teacher to do the teaching activities that he/she always have done, but only in a different context. The technology is to a large extent considered as a substitute for the traditional class room teaching. And, a substitute can usually never fully replace the original. Hence, the starting point for my participation in this course was to get the knowledge what digital tools that are best for moving my teaching online and how to use these tools to, as far as possible, avoid technical problems.

Now, I could say with somewhat more confidence, that designing online courses is pretty much about the same thing as designing traditional teaching. However, the digital tools enable many more possibilities to design learning activities than traditional classrooms have. I think that many of the new ideas of great online teaching have yet not been invented, and that an open (source) platform, such as the Open EdX software I wrote about in my reflections on Topic 2, will enable a massive development in new revolutionary learning tools.

However, we are not yet there… and for every brilliant tool there are hundreds of mediocre systems with severe limitations that will be revealed just after you have made a dedicated effort into designing a learning activity. Until a de facto standard has evolved, the process for a teacher with Klondike ambitions could be quite painful. And history have shown that the most successful during the gold rush was the persons who provided the tools. I’m certainly more aware of the problem now, but I still lack the knowledge needed to start up a new online course. Maybe I’m ready for a small step introducing some online learning activity in my existing course.

Online teaching is not always appropriate. Bates is listing typical arguments that online teaching (i) best suites mature and experienced learners that are too busy to spend full time on campus, (ii) that subjects about new technology and problem solving are most appropriate and (iii) to be able to handle very large classes. I like the way Bates is expressing this. This is to phrase the question wrongly. It’s more appropriate to ask “What are the challenges I am facing as an instructor (or my learners are facing as students) that could be better addressed through online learning? And what form of online learning will work best for my students?”.

However, I feel that in some circumstances the traditional lecturing from an experienced “professor”, an expert in the field, cannot be substituted, although technology can be used to scale such activity as done e.g. in TEDs talks. According to Bates, and common sense, in the end it is all about the quality of the learning activities, not the form or the medium.



4 thoughts on “eTeachingDesign

  1. In my view, we tend to focus a bit too much on technology, don’t you think? Personally, I am somewhat apprehensive that our reliance on technology may dominate and take over the process of designing learning activities. In this regard, I also think that not necessarily all courses should benefit from the online context no matter how technologically enhanced the learning environment can be. At the end of the day, what counts is the intended purpose and the outcomes of learning. My impression is that we sometimes tacitly assume that part of that desirable set of outcomes is digital literacy. Still, however, I find the opportunity for some courses to operate both in the traditional and online domain to be tempting to explore. Here I can mention, for example, a situation where lecturing in large class could be refined using a blended approach and no advanced technology would be required.


  2. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I somewhat agree and disagree on the process of planning of online and “traditional” teaching. In general, yes, the logical chain of planning and management is the same. However, the tools, use of that tools and the challenges that arise are of new character. There is a gap between the considered “traditional” teaching and learning, and online learning, which is still a rainbow unicorn for most of the higher education institutions.

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