This week I presented a proposal for a subject I’ve been teaching for the last 4 years but has now been revised and revamped for the online environment. As a result of COVID, we (by which I mean academics) have all had to make rapid changes to teaching online. What I’ve become acutely aware of through participating in #EDUC90970 is that simply moving a subject online does not constitute online learning! In this blog I outline how relevant learning theories have informed the design of my online subject and how such frameworks have informed teaching and learning activities.
Learning Theory and Frameworks
The teaching and learning activities of this subject are aligned with two pedagogical frameworks. The first is constructivism, a model where opportunities to assimilate new learning to existing knowledge through methods designed to gauge student understanding are utilized (Alt, 2014) e.g. problem or inquiry based learning where students interact and participate in collaborative learning and groupwork to facilitate social construction of knowledge. The flipped classroom is one way of applying constructivist theory in the virtual learning space.
The second framework that learning activities are supported by is the Pedagogy- Androgogy- Heutogogy continuum (PAH). Activities are most aligned with an androgogy framework which asserts that learners use life experience as a foundation to cultivate self-directed learning (Knowles, 1984). Types of activities that fall within this paradigm are role-play, simulations and self-evaluation where the learner brings their real-world experience to experiential tasks in the classroom.
Ecology of Resources
The amount of resources available to support the online classroom are almost endless. This EOR will no doubt shift and change as I develop greater mastery over more and more online tools but as a starting point I was quite amazed at the number of resources I now feel comfortable teaching with. Merely 10 weeks ago this visual would not have looked so exciting! Technology tools such as PollEverywhere and Zoom Breakout rooms can be utilized as learning resources to facilitate recall of content knowledge and subsequently stimulate small group discussion. Both tools in my experience promote interactivity of the class and also support greater inclusion of international students. Arkoudis et al. (2011) assert that interaction between local and international students can be enhanced through dimensions such as tailoring collaborative environments. Feedback Fruits is a tool that I hope to learn more about during the development of my online subject due to its capacity to enhance assessment tasks by enabling students to give and receive feedback.
I’ve had fun in recent weeks experimenting with online collaborative group tasks. Having been inspired by this educator’s tips on how to turn googleforms into an escape room I decided to take the idea one step further by creating a more immersive escape room using SeekBeak. The room I created integrated subject content and collaborative problem solving tasks that allowed students to work together in teams with the goal of escaping the room (e.g. solving all the clues) first. Who said learning can’t be fun!
Alt, D. (2014). The construction and validation of a new scale for measuring features of constructivist learning environments in higher education. Frontline Learning Research, 2(3), 1-27. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v2i2.68
Arkoudis, S., Watty, K., Baik, C., Yu, X., Borland, H., Chang, S., Lang, I., Lang, J. & Pearce, A. (2013) Finding common ground: enhancing interaction between domestic and international students in higher education, Teaching in Higher Education, 18:3, 222-235, https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2012.719156
Knowles, M. (1984). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (3rd Ed.). Houston: Gulf Publishing.