Sunday, September 6, 2009

Online learning 3: Community, facilitation, and assessment

1. Emerging needs
  • just-in-time knowledge has replaced the just-in-case, longer modules
  • changing roles, expectations, responsibilities of mentors & learners
  • more learner-centered, technology-enhanced communication (across time & space)
2. Interaction
  • peers have a major influence on successful learning outcome, which is often not taken into account when designing training and academic courses (Palloff & Pratt, 1999)
  • Key aspects of online interaction: a. community building, b. knowledge generation, & c. process management (Palloff & Pratt, 1999)
  • a. Create spaces where students have the opportunity to interact about personal matters, build personal relationship and share issues not directly related to the course (reflection: web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and Twitter meet this need by providing profiles of the contact and extensive use of emotioncons to mitigate the challenge of the lack of non-verbal cue)
  • b. Online interaction takes place without place and time restrictions, which is particularly conducive for knowledge generation in a constructive mode - meaning becomes shared through negotiation and interaction
  • c. anytime learning (reflection: Now with Web 2.0 and wireless Web access, anytime anywhere/ubiquitous learning becomes increasingly feasible) - requires self-discipline, motivation (being part of an online community), online facilitator to set the initial rules & standards
3. Facilitation
  • Community building - developing a conducive learning environment & encouraging shared construction of meaning (e.g., all each participant to create an online personality): a. clearly define the purpose of the group; b. create a distinctive gathering place for the group; c. promote effective leadership from within; d. define norms and a clear code of conduct; e. allow for a range of member roles; f. allow for and facilitate subgroups; g. allow members to resolve their own disputes
  • Knowledge generation - adhere to andragogical rather than pedagogical principles: use facilitative mode to create a student-directed environment
  • Process management - clear instructions (e.g., subdealines, online meeting times, number of posts required, presentation guidelines), virtual office hours, feedback
  • Roles of the online facilitator: teacher, mentor, manager, and coach
4. Assessment
  • A process of evaluating whether the online learning initiative has led to cost reduction, increased productivity, or a higher retention rate
  • Formative evaluation: an ongoing process that takes place throughout the delivery of the course in order to fill gaps, and clarify and adjust content and delivery mechanisms
  • Summative evaluation: evaluation that takes place after the course, most often in the form of grade. The frequency and quality of participation in the online interaction should be part of the grading basis.
  • Pre- & post-test/survey (Reflection: for EDTEC120 we used Profile-IT survey) and various smaller modules (individualized)


Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (1999). Building learning communities in cyberspace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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