Design for online and blended learning (Topic 4)… Well, this is a strange topic to be considering after emerging from the cocoon that was COVID. Surely we know all there is to know about online learning considering most of us have spent the better part of the last two years teaching online out of necessity? Though… When COVID first hit we all went into a state of “emergency remote teaching”.
When this happened, I had barely two years of university teaching under my belt so the whole concept of teaching remotely, and even that of blended learning, was entirely foreign to me. I will admit, at the time I embraced the emergency and the necessity to redesign my courses so that I would be able to still deliver the knowledge to the students and complete my allocated task of finishing the course. I didn’t pause to think that there would be multiple articles, websites, frameworks etc. that is grounded in well developed theory and demonstrated in practice. I just trusted my gut and did what I thought was best.
I flipped my classical course to one fully online, down to the assessments. I created lecture videos in short bite-sized chunks that would be easily digestible to the students and released them through the learner management system at regular intervals to ensure there was sufficient time for the students to access, watch, and engage with the topic. I created forums on the learner management system available to me so that the students could ask questions to clarify anything they didn’t understand. All of this happened asynchronously, and once a week I’d have a 45 minute Teams meeting (which was recorded) with those in the class who could attend so that they’d have a chance to actually talk to me directly to reduce turn around time in gaining clarification. The tests and exams that were planned to be face-to-face were adjusted and converted to an online platform, and I even set up some demo questions so that the students could familiarise themselves with the system before having to “write” the assessment. It certainly took a lot of effort from me to get to this point because I was only familiar with the classical in-person lecturing and assessment, but I just implemented the most logical steps to me to keep the course moving forward, adjusting here and there based on my experiences and student feedback.
Imagine, to my surprise, when this exact topic came up in the ONL222 course. And one of my new PBL facilitators is a specialist at a private institution whose responsibilities include the design and development of online and blended learning courses. And another has been thinking about this topic and implementing different iterations since 2015! I was absolutely blown away! I was certainly glad to find out that what I had done was indeed a suitable means to run a course online, and my plans to incorporate what I have learnt over the course of 2020/21 into a blended learning approach also aligns with theory and practice. However, I am now more critically aware of the material that is available to me. I will incorporate the necessary frameworks into my future course design to ensure I don’t need to rely on my gut and logic – as I have said in another reflection, why reinvent the wheel?