Monday, 19 May 2008

I. Introduction

What does it mean to dance in an online environment? The nature of teaching and learning is according to Gary Zukav (1979), a balance between a systematic, prescriptive, objective, quantifiable, product-oriented view, and a paradigm that can be described as systemic, holistic discovery-oriented, emergent, interactional and experiential. Zukav's paradigm and learning theories provides theoretical background for the instructional strategy and assignments. As the following image indicates, learning theories guide instruction:

In this sense, Downes (1980) in the above graphic also provides a framework for this Module:

Traditional online education Web 1.0 differs greatly from modern approaches. That is,"incorporating blogs for journaling assignments, wikis for creating content incollaborative group projects, podcasts for audio-based assignments, vodcasts for videobased assignments, and RSS feeds for syndication makes use of a few Web 2.0
technologies that can support project-based learning. The creativity and remixing of how the technologies can be used is an exciting new direction for both instructors and students. Creating online courses that center on students constructing their own meaning with hands-on activities may radically change how teaching and learning is designed. Solely delivering an online course with content created by either a publisher or an instructor within the structure of course management software is no longer considered an effective strategy." Students working in learning environments that shift learning to knowledge construction rather than learning by assimilating what the instructor delivers will create courses that resemble a language or conversation rather than a book or manual.

II. Objectives

The purpose of this Module is to address the learning needs with respect to the distinguishing features of traditional teaching vs teaching in an online environment. With this purpose in mind, this module follows Stephen Kemp's work on cognitive framework for writing educational objectives. In this sense, the objectives are the following:
What does it mean to teach in an online environment?
What are the characteristics of effective online teachers?
How does teaching compare between traditional and virtual environments?

III. Contents

Books and readings are listed as links on the right side of this Blog and the strategies below will guide you to respond to the above questions. Readings were selected in light of the topic: Teaching in a traditional environment vs teaching in virtual environment.Teaching in an online environment. Each participant may suggest and read additional references. Among the readings are:
• Best Educational E-Practices
• Facilitating Online Learning
• Keys to Facilitating Successful Online Discussions
• Learning and Teaching in Cyberspace: Online Teaching
• Tips and Secrets for Online Teaching and Learning: An Inside View
• Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online
• Teaching in an Online Learning Context - Terry Anderson
• Lessons Learned Teaching Online
• Tips and strategies for online teaching and learning
• One course, two ways

IV.Strategies and Activities

Organizational strategies: Teaching-Learning Strategies are organized in four parts:
- Theoretical
- Analytical
- Practical
- Synthesis

Part I. Theoretical

This Module is for teachers. The group of participants will break into groups of four (or five). Each group will select and summarize one of the materials or select a reading from the right list of links. Discuss and comment your readings in this site.
There are some "Keys to facilitating online discussions" among the list of readings.
By the end of the first session each participant individually and each group will answer the following questions:
1. Which example of WebPages or links listed on the right side of this site are the best ones in terms of providing you with new insights about:
2. What does it mean to teach in an online environment?
3. What are the characteristics of effective online teachers?
4. How does teaching compare between traditional and virtual environments?

Part II Analysis

1. One of the members of the group may take the role of an instructor,manager, organizer or coordinator that will provide each participant with a hard copy of the rubric for evaluation. The group of participants divided in sub-groups will
select one of the listed videos. The idea is to discuss and to illustrate some aspects of the above mentioned readings:
(a) Which two WebPages are the best and which are the worst? Why?
(b) What do best and worst mean to you?
(c) Which other ones would you recommend?

Take notes as you watch videos,much the same way as you would do normally in class, and answer each of the following questions:
- How would you define and characterize “teaching in an online environment”?

Within each group, each participant will take on one of the following roles:
a. The Efficiency Expert:
You are an expert. You know all about traditional and modern teaching or teaching
in an online environment. You believe that too much time is wasted in theory and
not knowing what the teachers should do at a given moment.
b. The Affiliator:
To you, the best learning activities in a teaching learning environment are those in
which people learn by deliberating and communicating each other. Collaboration and creating a good environment for discussion and consensus are the best ways rather than working alone with the computer. Relationship oriented.
c. The Smart
Higher level thinking is everything to you. There's too much emphasis on factual recall in schools today. The only justification for bringing technology into schools is if it opens up the possibility that students will have to analyze information, synthesize multiple perspectives, and take a stance on the merits of content. Sites should allow for some creative expression on the part of the learner.
d. The Technophile:
You love internet quest and online modules. If web quest has attractive colors, animated gifts, and lots of links to interesting sites you love it. If it makes minimal use of the Web, you’d rather use a worksheet and traditional materials.

2. Individually, each participant will examine each of the selected links, videos, sites or readings and use the worksheet to jot down some notes or opinions of each from the perspective of the selected role. Each participant will need to examine each site fairly quickly. They should not spend more than 5 minutes on any one site. The coordinator will keep time using a clock.

3. When everyone in the group has reviewed all the four sites,it’s time to get together to answer the questions. One way to proceed would be to go around and poll each team member for the best two and worst two from their perspectives. Each member should pay attention to each of the other perspectives, even if at first s/he thinks might disagree with the others.

4. There will probably not be unanimous agreement, so the next step is that participants talk together to hammer out a compromise consensus about each team's nominations for best and worst. Pool your perspectives and see if each participant can agree on what's best. The coordinator should check that each group do not just tally up the votes and declare a winner.Instead, each participant should begin to put aside his/her individual perspective and come to an agreement that takes into account all four perspectives.

5. One person, the coordinator in each group should record the group's thoughts.

6. When debriefing time is called, the coordinator will report the group's results to the whole class. The question to be discussed is: do you think the other group will agree with your conclusions? Also, provide a summary of the results.

7. At the end, the coordinator will ask for comments on the activity and get feedback from participants. How the members of the group feel about the instruction? Did you like the experience? Do you have some suggestions?


Design a project and make comparisons:
Each sub-group will design an instructional project for teaching in an online environment and post in this web site. The purpose is to compare similarities and differences among the projects and to suggest new insights for future practices. Once all of the plans have been posted in this web site compare the various approaches outlined by others. Find one posting that differs from yours, and comment on the difference that each one found.
- What are the differences between a traditional paradigm and a modern one?
- Did someone think of something you overlooked?
- Did someone include something that you wouldn't want to include in yours? Think about it.
- What did you learn from each other?


4.1. Select some of the readings listed on the right side of this blog and summarize
the main contents in light of the objectives of this Module.

4.2. Think about what competencies and issues are important to you as a researcher/professional in the field of online education.

4.3. Write an essay based on the study questions:

(A) Define teaching in an online environment and explain at least three characteristics.
(B) Write at least two similarities and differences between traditional and
a modern teaching. Provide examples of teaching in an online environment.
(C) Write at least two features that distinguish teaching in an online environment in the future. Provide examples.
(D) Given characteristics of teaching in an online environment describe in your own
words a plan or project, integrating what you have learned into your existing knowledge and practical experience, providing examples.
(E) Think about, how important is to learn Internet skills and the use of computers for better teaching? Could you be able to evaluate and improve your plan for the future? You are not required to hand in these questions for evaluation. Remember that by writing your answers down, you will be more likely to make sense of the content.
Additional suggested readings:
• Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
• Informal Faculty Mentoring
• Teaching in a Web Based Distance Learning Environment:

4.4. Review key terms/concepts
Match key concepts with pictures, authors and/or videos:
- Teaching Online
- Traditional Education
- Constructivism
- Zukav's philosophy

4.5. Re-read objectives for this Module. Think about whether you have been able to meet those objectives. Review your notes and lecture and ask your colleagues for clarification where needed. Prepare for the final exam or post-test

4.6. Synthesize your final plan

Final plans or projects should include your objectives, readings of your own choosing, strategies/activities to further examine the field of teaching in an online environment videos that will be useful for you. There are also case studies you can review and might be used as insights for your final plan.

V. Evaluation

1. Assess your own responses as compared to the others’ responses
and evaluate your project or plan with the help of colleagues on the basis of the following check list:
(A) Does it include clear objectives that are "connected" with contents?
(B) Does it include knowledge on “teaching on an online environment?
(C) Does it includes activities or experiences to learn about online education?
(D) Does it include how to evaluate and improve it?
Briefly explain the strengths of your project and hand in to the instructor.

2. Take the post-test and evaluate this module as follows:

1. What does mean “teaching in an online environment”?
2. What are its characteristics?
3. How important is to learn about teaching in an online environment?
4. Are there any similarities/differences between both paradigms (traditional and modern)?
Please mention at least 2 of each.

Evaluate this Module:

- Identify strengths and weaknesses.
- Were the specific objectives and content (disciplinary and pedagogical)
accurate and up to date?
- Did the module stimulate questions, inquiry, and encourage field work?
- Were appropriate readings and resources available?
- Any suggestions to improve this site?

THE RUBRIC by Stephen Kemp:

VI. Forum questions and weekly chat session

Question that guided weekly chat sessions:

How does teaching compare between traditional and virtual environments and how we can improve teaching in an online environment?

Discussion forum questions:

- Can we integrate and apply student's beliefs and values across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes?

- How virtual environments can allow competing solutions and diversity of outcome?

- How an online environments can be seamlessly integrated with assessment?