Providing education through online settings either in full or in combination with on-site learning can benefit from analytical examination through different pedagogical models. I will go through three perspectives that can be used in highlighting different aspects of online and blended learning.
From the teacher’s perspective, the TPACK model by Koehler & Mishra (2009) relates technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge with one another to foreground how the content matter, pedagogical understanding, and used technologies interact with one another. That is, educators have not only understandings regarding the taught subject, pedagogics, and technologies, but also about how the contents and pedagogics are related, how technologies affect the content matter, and how technologies and pedagogics interact to name some of the dimensions. Interpreting this normatively, for a particular topic there are more suited technologies and better pedagogical methods with which to implement teaching. Reflecting on these dimensions can provide means for teacher to improve students’ learning experience.
It seems that researchers of pedagogy are fans of Venn diagrams: TPACK is visualized as such and so is the community of inquiry (CoI) model by Garrison et al. (1999) that Robin Kay introduced in the webinar. The model relates cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence with one another in the context of community of inquiry. Whereas the TPACK model was more teacher centric, this model covers the community of teachers and students. Cognitive presence refers to the ways in which the members of CoI construct meaning through communication to learn something. Social presence conceptualizes how the members can be themselves in the CoI – that is, show that they are people with own thoughts and feelings. This can support cognitive presence but also be a motivator for students in itself. The third element of teaching presence takes more the perspective of the teacher (although learners can also assume these functions) and covers the design of the teaching experience and the facilitation of learning. These elements can be integrated with one another: designing teaching experience so that students are cognitively engaged in exploring, integrating, and applying knowledge and feel safe to express their own views and collaborate are at the heart of community of inquiry.
As a sidenote related to teaching presence, our group discussed two design principles of course design: ADDIE model and rapid prototyping (for a comparison, see Williams, 2016). The circular analysis-design-development-implementation-evaluation model is comprehensive way of designing courses, however it takes a lot of time and effort. Rapid prototyping is a process of developing courses fast: it goes through several cycles of implementation and evaluation to create courses. Rather than starting with comprehensive analysis, the educator starts putting together the materials and evaluates and changes them in rapid cycles. These can be useful to consider in how to approach course design.
Finally, empirical studies have foregrounded more practice-based dimensions of learning. According to the literature review by Boelens et al. (2017) four dimensions of online teaching are relevant to consider when designing blended education: how to incorporate flexibility, how to stimulate interaction, how to facilitate students’ learning, and how to nurture affective learning climate. Flexibility can be considered with regards to time, space, and order of topics. Decisions concerning the control for flexibility and sequences of online and onsite learning are part of this. For stimulating interaction the greater distance between online learners and teachers needs to be considered and appropriate means of communicating onsite and online can be used for supporting students. As for facilitating students’ learning process the differing self-regulatory skills of learners can pose challenges. Monitoring the learning process and assessment are some ways of steering students in right direction. Finally, affective learning climate is important as students may feel isolated and unmotivated in online settings. Providing at least some onsite teaching may provide solutions for such issues.
While these different insights overlap with one another, each of them provides a perspective that can be useful in designing online and blended education. Perhaps the focal element in all of them is the learning experience: be it the chosen technology, issues around flexibility, or cognitive presence in terms of how the students explore different topics, the students’ perspective needs to be considered.
Boelens, R., De Wever, B., & Voet, M. (2017). Four key challenges to the design of blended learning: A systematic literature review. Educational Research Review, 22, 1-18.
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The internet and higher education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.
Williams, S. (2016) An Critical Analysis of ADDIE vs Rapid Prototyping. Blog-post. Available from https://shaunmwilliams.com/thedigitalchemist/index.php/2016/06/22/addie-vs-rapid-prototyping/