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.
- Bates, T. The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors, published on teachonline.ca, 2016.