The year it all went online: Reflections on #EDUC90970

Had I not enrolled in #EDUC90970 this year I imagine my rapid (aka forced) transition to online learning would have been significantly more stressful. I still remember the day in late March when all staff were notified via email that due to the hasty spread of COVID-19 we would be moving to remote teaching effective immediately. Fast forward nine months and online teaching is still the reality, albeit I’m now more pedagogically informed in my methods and not ‘flying by the seat of my pants.’

When I reflect on my experience in #EDUC90970 the biggest lesson by far was that simply moving a subject online does not constitute online learning! In this reflective 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.

A self-directed learning choice I made in this subject was to explore the concept of cognitive load and the impact on learning. One of the strategies that resonated most with me is to ‘use worked examples to teach new content or skills’ (Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, 2017). I admit it has taken me a while to adjust to using this strategy. Prior to undertaking the GCUT I would have firmly argued that the best approach is surely to have students solve the problems for themselves otherwise how will they learn?. Rather than ‘handing them the answer on a silver platter’ providing worked examples frees up working memory as the student can focus on how to solve the problem rather than just focusing on finding the correct answer. In an online learning environment we can achieve this by providing exemplars of learning tasks or how-to guides for interacting with online content e.g. step by step instructions on how to create and upload a blog or video modelling of skills. The worked example thereby becomes a steppingstone to independent learning and enables application of skills to more advanced problems.

#EDUC90970 resulted in development of a proposal for a subject I’ve been teaching for the last 4 years, now revamped for the online environment. It is underpinned by two learning theories; constructivism and the PAH continuum.  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 I applied constructivist theory in the virtual learning space. The Pedagogy- Androgogy- Heutogogy continuum (PAH) was used to frame activities most aligned with an androgogy framework using role-play, simulations and self-evaluation where the learners brings their real-world experience to experiential tasks in the classroom. 

I had a lot of fun 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!

Taking the knowledge learnt from #EDUC90970 I have now directed my focus on developing ways to assess students’ knowledge in a simulation based digital environment. The first step has been to apply for a teaching a learning grant that will facilitate development of simulation videos using the interactive technology of H5P branching. The longer-term vision is to integrate applications of VR into my teaching practice. My research for the most part resulted in information about how VR can be used in the therapeutic context to treat clients but much less in relation to how we can use it to train novice psychologists and counsellors. Such clinical simulation methods have been used successfully in other psychology training programs Wilkinson and Bazile (2019) and in paramedicine (Cochrane et al., 2020).

References

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

Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2017). Cognitive load theory in practice, Examples for the classroom. NSW Department of Education. Retrieved from: https://khsbpp.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/cognitive_load_theory_practice_guide_aa.pdf

Cochrane, T., Aiello, S., Cook, S., Aguayo, C., & Wilkinson, N. (2020). MESH360: A framework for designing MMR enhanced Clinical Simulations [Journal]. Research in Learning Technology, 28(Mobile Mixed Reality – Themed Collection). https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v28.2357

Wilkinson, T., & Bazile, K. (2019). Counseling students’ experiences viewing virtual reality case studies. Teaching and Supervision in Counseling ,1 (2), 85-97. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7290/tsc010206   

Published by Chelsea Hyde

Lecturer in Educational Psychology Senior School Psychologist

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