This post is very short since I spent a lot of time on the video to follow that I hope you enjoy. When I started this class, I set 3 goals that I wished to accomplish. First, to expand my knowledge of various online tools that are used in online and blended courses. Check the first box. Alec and my classmates showed me the many different tools that are available most of which I used for the very first time. I definitely plan on using them again in the course I teach. Second, I wanted to learn how to motivate students to be more self-directed and engaged in their learning. I also believe that this goal was accomplished because Alec gave us many strategies and tips we could employ to engage and motivate our learners. My third goal was to find balance in my workload by not being “over-connected” with having blended courses. This is still a work in progress but by seeing the great educators I was able to work with in this class I have come to a greater appreciation of teachers and all they do. They work very hard to make learning fun for students and continue to learn themselves. I am privileged to have been associated with all of you and I want to encourage all of you to continue to do the great work you are all doing. We may not always feel appreciated for what we do but you are making a difference in so many lives. Bottom line is that teachers work hard and I have to learn to disconnect more when I am not working. Connected time can be monitored with analytics and I have to ensure that I watch how much I am connected. There is no question that having material online will increase the amount of work initially but if it makes the learning more meaningful, it will be worth it. How we teach is evolving as technology advances and our learners evolve. We too must change or risk being obsolete in our methods of delivery. I remember when there were overheads and slide projectors!
Thank-you everyone for your guidance in my learning journey and sharing your skills and knowledge. Thank-you Alec for your continued guidance and I hope to cross paths with you again. Please take time to watch my 5.5 minute video entitled “Class Wars” that investigates the perils of educators having to decide to teach traditionally or embracing online and blended formats. Thanks for reading and watching!
When I reflect about what we had talked about this past week in Alec’s class (accessibility, cultural/ideological/philosophical and pedagogical considerations), I cannot help but compare to the approach taken by dental professionals when promoting oral health to their patients. This approach is universal for all health professionals when providing care. Not all patients have equal access to care. Many experience barriers such as income, lack of services in their community, social support, education, coping skills, age, gender and culture to name a few. As practitioners, we must investigate what obstacles stand in our patient’s way in obtaining optimal health. We gather information about their health, any concerns they may have and use our assessment findings to come up with a care plan for their needs. This may require testing and collaborating with others to determine what is required. We need to communicate in terminology they understand and if they do not speak the same language, use pictures, interpreters or other means to effectively get our message across. We then evaluate if our care plan was successful and outcomes were reached. If they were not, we modify our approach and try again. Outcomes are more successful when patients are involved in this process so they take ownership of their problems and develop critical thinking skills so they make healthier choices. We cannot use a “recipe card” approach for everyone because our patient’s needs are all different.
The same can be said for educators understanding what is preventing their students from meeting the desired learning outcomes. When developing curriculum, accessibility issues must be considered. Our learners may require accommodations to how we deliver content or evaluate them. They may have cultural beliefs against using technology or may not have the understanding on how to use it. Everyone needs are unique and education must be personalized!
Each student learns differently. We all know that students have unique learning styles and learn at different rates. They excel when their preference of learning is used. Some like structure while others prefer flexibility. Our learners are becoming more culturally diverse because of globalization. Personalization takes into account each students needs, skill level and learning abilities. This can pose many challenges when educators are designing and developing courses. Pedagogical considerations are still required regardless of how the content is delivered. The one constant complaint that I hear about online content is that it is less personal or interactive since the learner may be taking the course independently and asynchronously. Students may not have the ability to interact with others in the class but is this the fault of the mode of online delivery or how it was developed? Are we using the online tools available to promote interactions and allow students to be engaged and take ownership of their own learning? As conditions change and technologies advance, we must design content that is engaging and interactive. It is no different when we lecture face to face and do not give students opportunities to work in groups, ask questions or participate in discussions with the teacher and other students. Students can learn from one another and the teacher can also learn from the students.
The article entitled “Designing learning and assessment in a digital age” provides a guide that focuses on elements of learning and assessment in a digital environment. The article introduces a model of online learning and highlights four necessary components: Discover, Dream, Design and Deliver. We need to discover important aspects of our learners that may affect how content is delivered. We need to dream of where we are trying to accomplish, design and deliver how we are going to get there.
Within the article, a learning design process is recommended as illustrated below. Within this design process the learning environment, intended learning outcomes, learners and other people are considered when creating a digital learning environment. This is personalizing the learning for the intended audience so that learning outcomes can become realized. All stakeholders need to be considered and supported and this includes not only the students but the educators as well.
When Lori and I created our online Interprofessional course we used a survey to investigate our students’ needs and explore any potential barriers that they may encounter accessing our course. Is this possible to do each year? Maybe not, however, as educators we must ask ourselves if using the same delivery modality is practical for the new learners we are trying to engage. When students are not progressing as expected, we must look at the reasons why this is happening and try to personalize our approach for that type of learner. This is not easy and requires a lot of effort. Trying to motivate the unmotivated is never easy. Try getting people to floss on a daily basis! The strategy I employ is motivational interviewing. This requires you to involve patients in their own learning and goal setting. If they understand why it is important, how it can lead to a better outcome and be involved in the process, they will more likely change their behavior. We need to give students more control over their learning environment and step back from being the “expert” in the field. Simply supplying information in a lecture type environment does not work for everyone. Using multiple formats and delivery methods makes learning less routine and redundant. Educators should be more like coaches helping guide their students along the way. This is more practical for adult learners but we are trying to get them to be life-long learners for their continued growth and development. Online and blended courses will be more successful if our learners have these essential skills. Since many students are not exposed to online courses at younger ages, we need to start developing these skills at a younger age. Students are already familiar with using the internet, communicating with one another remotely and researching information from a variety of different online sources. We just need to ensure they apply those same skills in an online learning environment. Our workforce will also be able to adapt and evolve to an ever-changing landscape.
The article, “Personalized eLearning: A Customized Approach to Accelerated eLearning” provides recommendations on how to design online content in a personalized way. It suggests that educators personalize their welcome message for each student. Jake Heimpel from D2L showed us this feature when he reviewed Brightspace. Other ways to personalize content include: allowing students to choose their own avatar, flexibility in content sources or evaluation methods such as blogs and social media, personalization with the use of photos and goal setting and recognition of everyone’s own unique individual competencies with the use of customized evaluation methods and remediation assignments. Students need to be more involved in the learning process and feel that the content has been delivered for them personally. As the article states, “The age of “standardization” and “One-size-fits-all” no longer applies. Today, especially where technology is so ubiquitous in every aspect of our lives, “personalization” has become very important – be it in manufacturing, services or retail business. Personalization is needed to make a product or service more endearing to the target audience, and this is especially true for eLearning.” Educators play a valuable role to ensure the content created meets the needs of every learner.
Lori Thibault and I created a YouTube video of our course walk through on Interprofessional Education.
After reviewing the feedback from our peers, we made modifications to our course that included:
adding more pictures and descriptions to make our course more visually appealing.
a fun activity of an Escape Room that tested our student’s knowledge on the content from Lo1-3.
To Apply the students knowledge, we also had them involved in a practical exercise in LO4 that involved a case study in the form of a Powtoon video. This case study related to both the nursing and dental hygiene profession and required them to use each other to work through the guiding questions provided. With interprofessional problem based learning, it is important to design a scenario where students need to use one another to find the necessary information out.
After completing the case study, the students evaluated individually and as a group how they worked as a team using the Interprofessional Competencies from the National Framework discussed in LO3.
Because Brightspace is the LMS used by Saskatchewan Polytechnic, we tried to utilize as many tools as we could to stimulate online discussions and offer multi-media formats for content delivery and responses. Online discussions and interactions are essential for interprofessional to be demonstrated. We also provided guiding questions to stimulate discussions and as instructors, we would have an online presence to ensure discussions would not deteriorate within the groups.
We had a lot of fun developing this course as Lori and I have not worked together before on a project and thought that interprofessionalism would be a great topic since we are both in the health care field and realize that our professions not only learn independently but also work this way as well. It gave us an opportunity to appreciate each others profession and learn more about Brightspace that has only been implemented for the last 2 years at our organization. What we both have learned will have lasting implications for our programs as we move forward in using Brightspace to improve the accessibility of our learners at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
I find this weeks questions very intriguing as I have heard a variety of suggestions from different sources on how to stimulate online interactions between students and between instructors and students. This is particularly important for our online course since interprofessionalism is dependent on collaboration and active communication.
The main challenge I have had with online interactions is with the level of engagement of the students. I have taught some online courses and have followed the criteria outlined in the Bates article (p.7):
clear guidelines on student online behaviour
student orientation and preparation
choice of appropriate topics
setting an appropriate ‘tone’ or requirements for discussion
defining clearly learner roles and expectations
monitoring the participation of individual learners, and responding accordingly
regular, ongoing instructor ‘presence’
ensuring strong articulation between discussion topics and assessment.
What continues to be a challenge is when students are disengaged. In my experience, I have attributed this to the following:
student’s lack of exposure or experience in online courses or interactions; they are unfamiliar with the process, lack technology skills or do not ask for help in a timely matter
student’s busy schedule or lack of organizational skills; not connecting to the site as often as they should
online interactions are not assessed; “optional” = not important
lack of interactions from others in the course; “why should I be the only one contributing?”
student is disengaged in the course or group; this may be influenced by the individual (introverted or does not value info) or group dynamics
student does not see the value in what they may be able to contribute or feel a similar post has already been made
lack of moderation by instructor
The students in my program come from a variety of different backgrounds, demographics and life experiences. I have foreign trained dentists, dental assistants and students right out of high school. Some have worked in the dental field for many years and others have not. Some have experienced barriers in accessing dental care and others have not. When students share their personal experiences, they not only validate with the information I am sharing but also connect personally to it. This can help other students fully appreciate the importance of the information even though they may not have experienced it themselves. The other major advantage of students sharing information is that they may create connections with other students who have similar experiences or it can create a “collaborative learning environment” that Bates discusses in his article (p.1).
Within our online course, Lori and I have taken advantage of the interactive tools available in Brightspace (LMS used by Saskatchewan Polytechnic). Bates states, “with online collaboration learning, the aim is not to replace the teacher, but to use the technology primarily to increase and improve communication between teacher and learners, with a particular approach to the development of learning based on knowledge construction assisted and developed through social discourse” (p.9). Brightspace has a variety of communication tools such as blogs, chats, email, group discussions, surveys, news posts and virtual classrooms. We could have used more of these discussion tools but because of the length of the course, chose to offer just a few of them. We were guided by our approach using the National Interprofessional Competency Framework and Bate’s criteria above. In our introduction, we have set out guidelines on student conduct as indicated in our Saskatchewan Polytechnic policies; we have emphasized our goals and clearly defined the learner’s roles and what is expected of them. In the first module, we have students introducing themselves using any media platform they prefer (video, audio, text). We also use discussion forums where students will post their responses to the specific problem based case study we have created. The purpose of the case study is to stimulate interprofessional interactions between nursing and dental hygiene students. The students must work together to navigate through the issues the patient is experiencing that is specific to each of their professions. Bates suggests that problem-based or inquiry based approaches may work in these subject domains (p.10). Lori and I will be monitoring student engagement and encouraging participation from those who are less active. There will be an articulation between discussion topics and our assessment rubric. Since this is an interprofessional activity, active collaboration is key for meaningful learning to occur. Having an instructor presence is important to ensure meaningful discussions are sustained. If our course was longer, we could offer segments of information to the students over a period of weeks so that they would have to react to new pieces of information as it became available. In our assessments of the students interactions we could also encourage them to ask questions, make comments or relate to the information on a personal level. This would also allow discussions to be supportive and relevant. Instructors can also pose questions in response to some of the posts to ensure discussions remain active.
Online engagement is dependent on so many variables. The articles we reviewed over this past week offer great suggestions. What is critically important is the design and implementation of the online course. Every student may experience different barriers in actively participating in the course and the instructor must consider this when developing the online content. This does put a lot of pressure on instructors especially if students are not self-directed or engaged. Students need support from many sources and the instructor plays a vital role for ensuring interactions are meaningful, supportive and relevant.
Lori Thibault and I responded to the valuable feedback we received this last week on our online Interprofessional Education Course. We do appreciate the feedback from our reviewers as it will help us modify our course and make it better.
are glad to see that our course was considered, “easy to use, well laid out,
and engaging”. As well, the LMS was easy
to navigate and looks very professional.
The scripting of the videos was well-received, in order to provide easy
access to course notes for students.
One suggestion was to make the videos, quiz or other parts of module more attractive. Unfortunately, the quiz was not meant to be included as part of the first two modules, but rather within the next two modules and therefore was not ready. We will be ensuring the quiz looks visually appealing in response to this feedback. As far as the videos and other parts of the module go, we are restricted to the capabilities of our LMS. As well we wanted to use our LMS to the maximum of it’s capabilities, and therefore didn’t want to add too many other programs into the mix (such as google classroom, or giphys).
Course Shell Feedback:
notes given about the toolbar on the top of the page for easy navigation
between different activities, tools and course content.
was feedback regarding the lack of student to instructor communication. However, as the introductory videos stated as
well as the course information page, there would be easy access by email or
phone for the students to ask questions of the instructors. The way that the news page is set up in the
LMS, only the instructors can post information.
comments were provided regarding our welcome videos, which we included to try
to give some personalization to an online asynchronous style course.
received feedback regarding the slightly overwhelming feature of the toolbar to
list every possible tool or activity available to D2L, even if the course is
not using that feature. This would be
annoying to a student to have to ‘click’ on something only to find it not used
in the course. Unfortunately, this is
another feature beyond our control, which is why we tried to be as descriptive
as possible regarding student tasks to complete.
There was a suggestion made to add a ‘fun activity’ to make the course more appealing to students. As this course is directed to adult students, and time factor is a consideration (15 min per module), we had to limit the amount of activities provided. However, we feel that directing the students to interact in discussions, as well as providing content in varying format (such as intro videos, screencasts, Powtoon, and discussions), will engage learners.
In the next two modules, we will be adding more student activities in the form of discussions, case studies, and quizzes that correspond to the first three learning modules, as well as an exciting virtual escape room activity and a self-evaluation.
We received positive feedback on our Course Modules as well as a few suggestions. One reviewer appreciated the tasks that were associated with each learning outcome listed and that it satisfied each type of learner offering a combination of text, video and discussion forums. This reviewer also liked the length of our videos which kept the students engaged and motivated. She stated that our modules were well laid out and provided a good learning experience for the students. However, she did feel that the Powtoon was distracting with the music and images included in the content delivery and would have preferred if it was delivered in a textual form. She did acknowledge that this was her personal preference. Our other reviewer liked our choice of Powtoon and acknowledged that it was one of her favorites. Our reviewers did like the scripts that were included with our videos as it ensures full accessibility to all of our students and that by doing this, we considered any cultural issues that may prevent understanding.
We did put a lot of thought when we developed this course module. Since we have experience in using this LMS, we did try to utilize multiple formats to keep students engaged in this course. Since interprofessionalism is all about interaction, we embedded discussion forums throughout our course and tried to create activities that promoted teamwork and collaboration. In the first module, having the students introduce themselves to their team members allows for role clarification and team building which are key principles of interprofessionalism. When delivering content in an online course keeping students engaged is critical and having multiple formats, such as video and audio, was an important consideration for us when designing this course. This may not satisfy every type of learner as some may only prefer text but having all options ensures that every learner’s preference was considered. For our Powtoon video, we could provide information to our learners that the music can be muted and the video paused if they found that it was moving too fast or distracting to their learning. �
second reviewer did not feel engaged in our course because “it was like a
formal video as traditional classes but seem modern”. She suggested we “use
some tricks” to make the material more engaging. We are not exactly sure what
she meant by these comments but we feel confident in the approach we chose to
deliver the content. Once all of the modules and evaluations are provided, we
are hoping it makes more sense to this reviewer.
does allow for a student’s progress to be monitored to ensure engagement is
occurring and we do understand that this can also provide inaccurate
information if students are playing videos but not present during its entirety.
At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, students are given opportunities to provide
feedback on each course they take and this helps guide instructors in future
courses being delivered. This feedback would help us modify our modules to
ensure students preferences are being considered.
One reviewer really appreciated our pre-survey we used to identify valuable information about our learners and any barriers they may face in accessing our course. They also highlighted that the LMS is being promoted by our organization and students are required to have personal electronic devices when they enter their programs.
reviewer was concerned that the acronym IPE was used throughout the course and
was not defined or identified until the end. In our introductory videos and
descriptions, IPE is defined and the acronym is included in the transcripts.
The reviewer must have missed this but it is important that definitions be
considered for any words that may not be known by our students.
The reviewers felt our profile was straightforward and logically organized. They believed we have a “well-balanced mix of online learning” with a good selection of instructional tools. One reviewer appreciated our cultural considerations identifying it as a strength of our course. One of the benefits of interprofessionalism is the fact that students learn with and from each other which provides opportunities of developing cultural competencies. Ensuring the course profile meets the needs of each learner is critical and will promote engagement and motivation.
Students have grown up with technology use it to communicate. They relate to icons, social media, meme, gifs, emojis, apps and games. Educators are continually find ways to connect with students to keep them motivated and engaged in their learning. A students success in online learning is dependent upon how self-directed they are and their motivation to learn. Gamification in online learning is not something new and is gaining a lot of traction with educators as they try to connect learning preferences with outcomes they are trying to achieve.
One example I read about is an educator at Mohawk College who used gamification in his online course to make learning fun for his college students. The article states, “When students are forced into a rigid, one-size-fits-all learning environment, their individual needs and interests aren’t taken into account. As young children, we learn through games and simulations. As we get older, that model changes and learning becomes less fun”. This is so true! Who wouldn’t like to play games? Even my adults learners enjoy review games I have organized and I can immediately sense the positive energy and engagement within the room once we start. The results used in the example I read are very convincing. Since gamifying his course, this educator has seen withdrawal rates drop by 25%, 20% more students are achieving passing grades and enrollment has increased.
This article from US News, reviews the pros and cons on gamification in online education. The article state, “faculty view gamification as a way to better engage students, who usually won’t have opportunities for face-to-face interaction” (p.2). Students are already online and this is the format that they can relate to most. The author also argues that “gamification allows students to become more active learners by inserting themselves into different scenarios, rather than passively listening to lectures and reading course material on their own” (p.2). Students learn to persevere as gaming gives them multiple attempts to solve problems and feedback is instant. Educators are also able to use the results of gaming to evaluate if students are learning and understanding the material. Gaming creates competition between students that can enhance engagement and motivate them to achieve rewards if offered.
Gamification has some negative consequences that also have to be considered. If there is too much emphasis on rewards, students can become more focused on the rewards than the learning and some students can become discouraged if they never win. Students who are not into gaming or competition may not participate and learn within this environment. The other issue highlighted within this article is that gamification required time, support and resources to set up. This can be difficult for educators. It may also require time for students to complete which does not align with time constraints within courses.
Educators have a difficult job trying to remain current with changing trends,satisfying new learners, and dealing with a reduction in resources, budgets and support. Learning requires engagement and as learners are becoming more dependent on technology, education must respond to this demand. Online learning is challenging already and a student’s success is dependent on their motivation to learn and to do so in a more independent environment. I see a lot of merit in this new approach and I can relate this to my professional field of dentistry as well. We are always trying to educate our patients on the importance of oral health and we must be cautious that our patients do not become too dependent on us to achieve this goal. I have had numerous patients that rely on me to get their oral health to a healthy state, and am I doing more harm by fulfilling this request? Like education, it is our job to help others out when they have problems that they cannot solve on their own. However, we must provide them with the tools to also survive and problem-solve on their own. This relates to an old proverb below.
When done right, gamification engages and motivates students. It is a way to make learning fun and for online learning, this is important. We cannot use the same approach as face -to-face formats and we must be creative. Online gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and many of our learners are actively playing video games. Why wouldn’t we try to tap into this love connection with our learners to create interest and enthusiasm in subjects that the may not have a lot of interest in? No question there are some drawbacks to gamification but the research is supporting its implementation in online learning and is worth further investigation.
This week I was able to explore the online narration/storytelling/movie editing tool VideoScribe. VideoScribe is a whiteboard style animated video that allows you to add text and audio files aimed at engaging your audience. According to their website, scribes are 15% more effective at getting your message remembered and transcends all age groups of learners. When using a scribe, your message is 3x more likely to be shared and leads to more recommendations. If you use it when selling a product, it is 2x more likely to be sold. I created a VideoScribe to answer the questions of what it is, what are the strengths and weaknesses of using it and if I thought it had potential for teachers to use it as a content creation tool. I have never used this tool before and it was fairly easy to use. I did have some computer lagging issues when I was updating the content and it did take me a few hours to complete under 4 minutes of video. I do not think I will use it in the future as it is not supported by my organization and it is costly.
The Bates article we were assigned to read reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of using text, video, audio, computing and social media. According to Bates, the choice or combination of media is determined by: overall teaching philosophy behind teaching, the presentation and structural requirements of the subject matter or content, the skills that need to be developed in learners, and the imagination of the teacher/instructor in identifying the possible roles for different media. One of the important strengths Bates identifies is the ability of the student to create their own “online personal learning environment” where teachers give the learners more freedom to develop their skills in this digital age. The three core elements Bates highlights is content, content structure and skills. Each method of delivery has its strengths and weaknesses, however, the teacher must decide which combination is best to use based on the needs of the learner. I believe using multiple methods provides the best opportunity to satisfy every learner and allows for versatility so that learners remain engaged. It is easy for learners to become bored with traditional and monotonous methods of delivery, and educators must take advantage of the new trends and technologies that present themselves to not only remain current but relevant.
In this weeks class Alec covered how blended learning can be delivered using the SAMR Model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition). I was first introduced to this model in 2017 in my EADM 820 class with Stephen Wihak. I also went to high school with Bart Cote who was able to shed some light on this model and how the Catholic high schools have implemented it into their curriculum. Alec also reviewed the TPCK Model (Technological Pedagogical Content). Regardless of what model you follow there are different depths of technology use that educators can infuse into their curriculum. This is dependent on the technology available to the educator, the LMS used by the organization, the educators experience and comfort using the technology, type of learner you have, and course material being delivered to just name a few. The ultimate goal is to transform learning experiences into higher levels of achievement for our learners. Technology should not be used for the sake of technology but rather the focus must remain on the learner and the outcome desired.
Alec also showed us the different LMS available and compared some of the pros and cons of each. The first one we were showed was the Blackboard system which has been around for a long time and owned a majority of the market share.We were shown Canvas, Moodle, Google Classroom and WordPress as other options. Many of the educators in this class had experience with one or more of these platforms. Canvas seemed to be the best one in my opinion as far as being easier to use, cost and set up. At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, we use Brightspace for all of the courses we deliver. It was introduced in 2015 for online programming replacing WebCT and Blackboard that was used in the past. In 2018, all faculty were encouraged to use Brightspace to augment the courses that they were teaching even though if it is delivered in a face to face format. I have been using Brightspace for 2 years now and I have had experience with Blackboard and WebCT. My preference is Brightspace because of its ease of use and versatility for both me and my students.
The weekly readings this week brought some critical perspectives to LMS integration. The article, “Beyond the LMS” by Audrey Watters (2014), referred to education and technology as being imperialistic and having a Western influence. Watters states, “we often find ourselves adopting new tools that simply perform old tasks a wee bit better, a wee bit faster”. I agree with this statement and it emphasizes the importance of implementing technology for the right reasons. The author continues by arguing, “the learning management system has shaped a generation’s view of education technology” and “it does not reflect the needs of the teachers and learners”. It is easy to get caught up in technology and implement it without fully evaluating if it truly was a more effective way of delivering content. I agree with Watters (2014) question, “Who exactly the LMS was meant to serve?” The learner must remain the focus of the approach taken ensuring that they will be successful in the learning process. I really like the reference to the University of Mary Washington’s approach on building one’s own “rich professional portfolio” and “we must become the holders of our own data”. One of the issues with LMS is the restraints it can impose by controlling what is being entered and what can be taken out. Students should have more control of their learning and be able to regain control of the content and knowledge they create. This will contribute to life-long learning that we as educators are trying to encourage!
The second article that Alec shared with us from Twitter dealt with thoughts on Class Dojo. I have not used Class Dojo but after reading the article I can see both points of view on why is can be beneficial but also the potential harm that it can create. My initial thoughts are, “Are we getting too soft and is it not our job as educators to encourage proper behavior?” There is ample research to show the benefits of using rewards with kids and I have used it as a parent and dental professional. Many kids do not like going to the dentist or looking after their teeth and rewards can be very powerful to change their behavior. Are we not trying to enlighten our students to challenge their current beliefs, attitudes,values or knowledge? I do see the argument of creating a “conformist society” but our laws, policies and rules in life and work ensure we are acting in an appropriate manner. Without these guidelines and people to enforce them, our society will be in a state of anarchy.
I have had opportunities to teach fully online courses, solely face to face courses and blended courses. I have had both positive and negative experiences. I embrace the advantages of online learning for its flexibility in when it is delivered or accessed, use of discussion forums, videos, animations, evaluation, cost and time savings and hyperlinks to name a few. Saskatchewan Polytechnic has identified the “new learner” in its Strategic Plan and recognized that the traditional method of academic delivery (face to face) is no longer practical. Students are demanding more and educational institutions, driven by competition, have had to evolve to this changing trend. Saskatchewan Polytechnic have strongly encouraged all programs to use Brightspace to offer our students flexibility and more support in their learning journey. I have been using Brightspace for over 2 years now and have seen how beneficial it can be. I have all of my lectures available for students to access, have reading articles posted, use discussion forums, have them post their assignments, and have hyperlinks, videos and animations to supplement their learning. I have used webinars and video conferencing which has alleviated the stress and cost of scheduling guest speakers or experts in a face to face format. Although Brightspace was a lot of work to initially set up, I am able to same course components each year and import them in for following years and make edits. I also appreciate that I can track a student’s access to each section available online and this is where there is a lot of variation.
Some students are very active and others are not. In order to encourage their participation, I have assigned a grade with some limited success. Those who are not engaged, only participate minimally and the quality of their work is subpar. When you do make something optional, many students see this as an opportunity to not participate as it is not important enough to be a mandatory requirement. The students workload is heavy within our program and adding online content, assignments or discussion forums have been challenged because of the extra work it entails. I too feel that since I added online content to all of my face to face courses that I am working more than ever before. Because of online availability, students are emailing or posting after hours where I feel obliged to respond because I am the one encouraging their participation. Training and support is offered for instructors who want to use this online format but must be accessed on their own time. This too adds to an instructor’s workload as it can take a lot of time maintaining the content on these pages.
The success of blended and fully online learning is dependent on how engaged and self-directed the students are. Students who never log in or complete the tasks I have set out have struggled in these courses. They too are offered orientation to Brightspace as well as supports if they choose to use them. Some also have struggles if they are not technologically capable of using the new format. For the most part, I have seen more positives than negatives with using blended delivery methods and more and more courses are converting to this format. With change comes resistance and opportunities to learn. With time, this delivery method will be the norm if it isn’t already!
I do like how Oblinger and Hawkins (2006) argue that “learning is an active process” (p.14) and technology can be used to leverage this. I also like that they ask the question if using technology is an either or process. We must implement technology if it makes sense and our focus must continue to be with the learner and the desired outcome. Is technology going to lead to an improvement? I have seen the resistance in implementing technology in the dental office as well with the digital revolution. one of my first tasks when I was hired by Saskatchewan Polytechnic was to introduce digital radiography to our program and clinic. Many of my colleagues had no experience with it and were resistant to its implementation. I even had to hide the film so they did not resort back to the old ways of doing radiography! There were some growing pains but we have been using it now for over eight years and most importantly, we are preparing our students on what they will be using when they graduate. That is one thing that Saskatchewan Polytechnic does well is that they consult with industry annually to ensure they are maintaining standards and staying current. Technology is continually changing and it is a challenge remaining current not only because f the cost but the time required to be knowledgeable on the current trends. Professionally I am required to complete 50 hours of continuing education every 3 years (I usually am close to 100) and as an educator there is added pressure as we are the one’s people turn to for information or advice.
Expand my knowledge of the various online learning tools that I can use in my blended learning classes
Learn how to motivate my students to become more self-directed in their learning and introduce gaming within the classroom to get them engaged in their learning
Learn how to balance my workload so that I am not over-connected with the online options I have created. The more I add the harder I am working and it is taking me away from my family life a little more each year.
I do look forward to learning not only from Alec but my classmates who are already doing some great things!