There are many factors that are important to consider when designing and converting a course or program into online. One of the first steps I think about who is important in the work when planning a course is that the students should have access to the Learning management system (LMS) and the course rooms. When they have access to the information, it should be motivating for them to absorb the information that is available. My experience of this is that if you can and have caught the students at this stage then you have done a great deal of work to motivate them and engage them for their further learning. Access in form of good internet and that the information should be available on different platforms such as computer, telephone and I pads. In this first step, I as a teacher have also an important role to play like a facilitator if there is any obscurity or difficulty that arises at the beginning of the student’s journey. The next important step for the student to succeed the studies is that the student know which groups, he / she should belong to, for example, to carry out group work during the course. To belong to different groups and to collaborate in a group can be challenging, therefore, my experience is that it is important that I as a teacher early inform on that it is important that each group sets clear rules on what they expected of each participant in the group based on the fact that for example, setting times, taking responsibility, announcing problems and everyone in the group working towards the same goal. Working together in a group and in addition at a distance puts additional demands on the group participants, so these guidelines are even more important than when working together physically. Here too, it is very important with good functioning internet, and other technologies such as sound. If the group sets rules and expectations early, the chance of successful group work is greater and everyone in the group sees a value in working together and learning from each other. If the student feels safe in the group, it also leads to the discussions in the group developing and it also develops the students’ learning as they learn from each other together. Listen to each other and sharing one another’s experiences and knowledge is a great advantage of working together in a group. Here, I feel that as a teacher, I have an important role to follow in the students’ process and participate in their discussions to follow their learning and support them to move on. If I as a teacher have succeeded in having a good and clear structure, the students feel safe in their group then the students work on as planned and they explore the subject or area based on the current assignment they have in the course. Based on the knowledge and experience that the student has then gained during the course, the next step will be for the student to apply and practice the knowledge in their own context, for example, further on in the workplace or as the first step during any practical experience. In relation to this, I am addressed by Salmon’s five stage model (Salmon, 2013) which I think is a good and clear model to help and support the student in their journey.
Another matter I want to take the opportunity to rewrite in this post is the importance of creating a relationship with the students from the beginning of their journey to the time they take their degree. If I, as a teacher, build a positive relationship with the students by being engaged, the students’ interest in building relationships with each other also has a positive effect on their collaboration. If I, as an engaged teacher in my teaching, point out the importance of good relationships, and engage in their learning, I am convinced that I get students who are more engaged and who perform better. I have no evidence of this more than Howells (2014) describing that creating student-teacher relationships has a positive impact on student achievement.
Howells, K. (2014). An exploration of the role of gratitude in enhancing teacher–student relationships. Teaching and Teacher Education, 42, 58-67.
Salmon, G. (2013). E-tivities: The key to active online learning. Routledge.