Saturday, May 28, 2011

46. Riveting Online Courses Elements and Reflections

An Absolutely Riveting Online Course: Nine Principles for Excellence in Web-based Education
Jim Henry, Jeff Meadows
Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Winter 2008
Available online at:

I will continue on with readings and comments on readings that I will come across, in the subject field of online education. However, at this point in the research, I am going to consider this particular article a key turning point. Not only it summarizes a valuable amount of research and anecdotal findings around online learning, but it empowers the reader to consider their own place and space in the process of approaching or improving online learning environments, and take it one step at a time.

In fact, of all readings done to date, this is the one I would suggest everyone begins with - the rest are ways to go deeper into the ideas from this article.

here some highlights:

  1. Online learning is here to stay.
  2. "Inevitable" conversations that can be heard about point one go in both directions and ends of the spectrum: from embracing innovation to listing the infinite number of drawbacks from adopting the new environment approaches to education.
  3. "Absolutely riveting" means striving for excellence even when perfection cannot be achieved - and room for improvement remains quite present at all times.
  4. Riveting courses apply sound pedagogical use of the tools and put students in charge of their learning.
  5. Principles in the course include:
    1. The online world is a medium onto itself (the medium is the message). Different dynamics take place and must be considered. Multiple pathways must be designed and accounted for in this environment. Redesigning often takes a very long time.
    2. In the online world content is a verb - students must be actively involved with content. (interaction, dialogue, coaching) - instructors become designers of students' learning experiences - design and take care of affective networks (UDL).
    3. Technology is a vehicle not a destination - be judicious on the selection of the technology tools.
    4. Great online courses are defined by teaching - not technology - find ways to show and nurture the passion for the content and the students' learning experience online. Use frequent, personalized, frequent feedback; engage students; provide clear goals and objectives.
    5. Sense of community and social presence are essential - ensure deeper learning experiences can occur. Consider the ideas behind the community of inquiry model (Garrison et al. 2000) - social presence, teaching presence and cognitive presence.
    6. Excellence requires multiple areas of expertise - you can either grow them in one individual - however the team approach is most desirable. Expertise is not an option!
    7. A great web interface will not save a poor course - a poor interface can destroy a great one! - consider using a study guide; anticipate students' needs.
    8. Excellence comes from ongoing assessment and refinement - again, consider aligning learning objectives with delivery methods and assessment - make changes as needed along the way.
    9. Consider the importance of going the extra mile! -provide exemplars of work; use audio-video clips; share brief personal messages; use rubrics; tutorials, calendar reminders.

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