Transferring a course from face to face to online without losing the most important elements is a real challenge. As the possibilities of technology grow, ways to collaboratively communicate and create online also become easier and by using Web2.0 Tools, allows such a course to become accessible to all.
The ‘Propositions Project’ is an excellent example of project based learning where students are given the freedom to pursue their choice of content and are required to deal with an authentic problem; a real life issue that has a genuine purpose and conclusion. As stated in the video, there is no need to give the students the information or even direct them to research; In order to solve a real problem, students search for information to support their actions and have ownership on the project. The students are automatically ‘hooked’.
The challenge in transferring this to an online environment is minimized by the fact that the teacher is not the catalyst for motivation; the project itself is. We are no longer relying on the driven, enthusiastic, motivational teacher but on the authenticity of the task in hand. And by allowing students to self-select – both the content AND the possible colleagues – the motivation is instantly internalized.
As long as the content is authentic and engaging – which, in this case, it certainly is, moving such a course to an online setting becomes more about the structure and organization, and above all facilitation; facilitating the discussions and the learning and deciding on the vehicle(s) to get you there…
To accomplish this, providing specific types of tools to collaborate online at the different stages of the project is of paramount importance; finding effective and reliable ways to brainstorm, comment, discuss, collate data & information, question different points of view and, of course, collaborate and reflect on the final product. Selecting an effective range of tools while still allowing a balance of freedom for individuals to select their own way to express themselves would be a challenge in itself.
Another area for consideration is feedback. Without feedback, motivation and enthusiasm dwindles. In a face to face situation, this is easy to monitor; recognizing which students look stressed, distracted or disconnected is easier to pinpoint and rectify. However, online is a different story – almost impossible to monitor unless the student approaches you. Therefore it is vital that the facilitator or group leader initiates conversations online and regularly checks in and asks the right questions.
However, there is also a flipside to this. As the online environment is more ‘anonymous’, there may be some students – the more quiet or shy ones – who may respond more positively to online prompts and discussions; online learning levels the playing field in a number of ways.
2. Online vs. face to face Venn Diagram
3. Collaborative Presentation of Web2.0 Tools
4. Designing an online discussion
5. Establishing an Accessible Social Presence
6. Designing a comprehensive Assessment Plan
7. Online Course Syllabus
8. Reflection: iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching
Hello, I am Tony Potts, the Director of Digital Learning, PK-12 ICT Coordinator, ICT teacher and technology integration specialist at GEMS World Academy, Dubai. Please feel free to ask me ANY questions...