Moving instruction online can enable the flexibility of teaching and learning anywhere, anytime, but the speed with which this move to online instruction is expected to happen is unprecedented and staggering.
“Online learning” will become a politicized term that can take on any number of meanings depending on the argument someone wants to advance.
Online learning carries a stigma of being lower quality than face-to-face learning, despite research showing otherwise. These hurried moves online by so many institutions at once could seal the perception of online learning as a weak option
Researchers in educational technology, specifically in the subdiscipline of online and distance learning, have carefully defined terms over the years to distinguish between the highly variable design solutions that have been developed and implemented: distance learning, distributed learning, blended learning, online learning, mobile learning, and others. Yet an understanding of the important differences has mostly not diffused beyond the insular world of educational technology and instructional design researchers and professionals.
Typical planning, preparation, and development time for a fully online university course is six to nine months before the course is delivered. Faculty are usually more comfortable teaching online by the second or third iteration of their online courses.
In contrast to experiences that are planned from the beginning and designed to be online, emergency remote teaching (ERT) is a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances. It involves the use of fully remote teaching solutions for instruction or education that would otherwise be delivered face-to-face or as blended or hybrid courses and that will return to that format once the crisis or emergency has abated.
A full-course development project can take months when done properly. The need to “just get it online” is in direct contradiction to the time and effort normally dedicated to developing a quality course. Online courses created in this way should not be mistaken for long-term solutions but accepted as a temporary solution to an immediate problem.
Rienties and his team linked 151 modules (courses) and 111,256 students with students’ behaviour, satisfaction and performance at the Open University UK, using multiple regression models.
There is little correlation between student course evaluations and student performance
The design of the course matters
Student feedback on the quality of a course is really important but it is more useful as a conversation between students and instructors/designers than as a quantitative ranking of the quality of a course. In fact using learner satisfaction as a way to rank teaching is highly misleading. Learner satisfaction encompasses a very wide range of factors as well as the teaching of a particular course.
this research provides quantitative evidence of the importance of learning design in online and distance teaching. Good design leads to better learning outcomes. We need a shift in the power balance between university and college subject experts and learning designers resulting in the latter being treated as at least equals in the teaching process.
Faced with increasingly complex communication technologies—voice, video, multimedia, animation—university faculty, expert in their own disciplines, find themselves technically perplexed, largely unprepared to build digital courses.
instructional designers, long employed by industry, joined online academic teams, working closely with faculty to upload and integrate interactive and engaging content.
nstructional designers, as part of their skillset, turned to digital authoring systems, software introduced to stimulate engagement, encouraging virtual students to interface actively with digital materials, often by tapping at a keyboard or touching the screen as in a video game. Most authoring software also integrates assessment tools, testing learning outcomes.
With authoring software, instructional designers can steer online students through a mixtape of digital content—videos, graphs, weblinks, PDFs, drag-and-drop activities, PowerPoint slides, quizzes, survey tools and so on. Some of the systems also offer video editing, recording and screen downloading options
As with a pinwheel set in motion, insights from many disciplines—artificial intelligence, cognitive science, linguistics, educational psychology and data analytics—have come together to form a relatively new field known as learning science, propelling advances in a new personalized practice—adaptive learning.
Of the top providers, Coursera, the Wall Street-financed company that grew out of the Stanford breakthrough, is the champion with 37 million learners, followed by edX, an MIT-Harvard joint venture, with 18 million. Launched in 2013, XuetangX, the Chinese platform in third place, claims 18 million.
Former Yale President Rick Levin, who served as Coursera’s CEO for a few years, speaking by phone last week, was optimistic about the role MOOCs will play in the digital economy. “The biggest surprise,” Levin argued, “is how strongly MOOCs have been accepted in the corporate world to up-skill employees, especially as the workforce is being transformed by job displacement. It’s the right time for MOOCs to play a major role.”
In virtual education, pedagogy, not technology, drives the metamorphosis from absence to presence, illusion into reality. Skilled online instruction that introduces peer-to-peer learning, virtual teamwork and other pedagogical innovations stimulate active learning. Online learning is not just another edtech product, but an innovative teaching practice. It’s a mistake to think of digital education merely as a device you switch on and off like a garage door.
Since the early days of online instruction, the response of many new instructors has been to figure out how to transfer elements of their face-to-face class into the online format. In response, education technology companies have been quick to create products that attempt to replicate in-person teaching. Some examples include learning management systems, lecture capture tools, and early online meeting systems.
online proctoring systems, such as ProctorU or Proctorio, replicate a practice that isn’t effective in-person. Exams are only good for a few things: managing faculty workload and assessing low level skill and content knowledge. What they aren’t good at is demonstrating student learning or mastery of a topic. As authors Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt discuss in their book “Assessing the Online Learner: Resources and Strategies for Faculty,” online exams typically measure skills that require memorization of facts, whereas learning objectives are often written around one’s ability to create, evaluate and analyze course material.
Authentic assessments, rather than multiple choice or other online exams, is one alternative that could be explored. For example, in a chemistry course, students could make a video themselves doing a set problems and explain the process. This would allow instructors to better understand students’ thinking and identify areas that they are struggling in. Another example could be in a psychology course, where students could curate and evaluate a set of resources on a given topic to demonstrate their ability to find, and critically analyze online information. (see Bryan Alexander‘s take on video assignments here: http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=bryan+alexander+video+assignments
Weakest students more likely to take online college classes but do worse in them
Survey of rigorous academic research on online education finds lower grades and higher drop out rates Column by JILL BARSHAY February 4, 2019
According to the most recent federal statistics from 2016, roughly one out of every three or 6.3 million college students learned online. That number is growing even as fewer people are going to college.
Online degrees are also concentrated among a handful of nonprofit universities. Just three — Western Governors University, Liberty University and Southern New Hampshire University — enroll about a third of all online students at private, nonprofit institutions.
overwhelming research evidence that community college students aren’t faring well in online classes
Another 2017 study of students at a for-profit university which offers both in-person and online classes found that students who took an online class not only got lower grades in that class but also in future classes. Online students were more likely to drop out of college altogether than similar students who attended in-person classes.
There are much stronger results for courses that combine supplemental materials online with traditional, face-to-face instruction. But the authors do not consider this hybrid instruction to be “online” learning.
An interactive discussion on MOOCs, online learning, and the goal of 100 million learners by 2022
The Future Trends Forum welcomes
Anant Agarwal , the founder and CEO of edX, a non-profit venture created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies.
He aims to help bring quality education to everyone, everywhere. Anant has also been a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT for 30 years.