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Pictures of Practice Evaluating, Disseminating, and Supporting Best Practices of Online Teaching Brad Belbas Christine Greenhow Linda Jorn JD Walker.

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Presentation on theme: "Pictures of Practice Evaluating, Disseminating, and Supporting Best Practices of Online Teaching Brad Belbas Christine Greenhow Linda Jorn JD Walker."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pictures of Practice Evaluating, Disseminating, and Supporting Best Practices of Online Teaching Brad Belbas Christine Greenhow Linda Jorn JD Walker

2 2 Need for Knowledge to Support Innovative Online Practice There is a gap between theory and practice regarding knowledge that informs development of learner-centered online environments—it’s unclear what implementing online courses in diverse and idiosyncratic higher education settings looks like “There is an urgent need for development research to provide design guidelines for enhancing collaborative online learning” (Reeves et al., p. 58). Reeves, T., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2004). A development research agenda for online collaborative learning. Educational technology research and development, 52(4), 53–65.

3 3 Faculty Needs Faculty report that they want to know > what’s needed to design and develop effective learner- centered instruction in courses > how to enact these practices online > what’s needed to assess the effectiveness of these practices Source: University of Minnesota Faculty Surveys (2002, 2004)

4 4 Purposes of This Study The purposes of this study include > examining the usefulness of the Activity Oriented Design Methods as a tool to inform innovative online teaching and learning practices. > producing knowledge about the sociocultural contexts of design, implementation, and assessment practices in learner-centered online environments. > identifying strategies and resources to support the efforts of higher education faculty to develop learner-centered online environments.

5 5 Research Questions How do faculty design and develop online learning environments? How do faculty facilitate teaching and learning in online environments? How do faculty assess student learning in online environments?

6 6 Design Based Research Five Characteristics: Links theory and design practices in a process that builds on or refines theory Promotes an iterative research/design process Uses valid methods to explain the practice of designing learning activities Elevates, articulates, and describes design activities Communicates findings and theory refinement in order to inform practice

7 7 Researching Practice in Action Methodology > Activity theory (AT) (e.g., Engeström, 1987) provided the conceptual system and analytic approach for studying sociocultural practice. Learning Theory > The framework from “How People Learn” (Bransford et al., 2000) provided an empirically-based model for cognitive development in education. Methods > The Activity Oriented Design Methods (AODM) (Mwanza, 2002) provided the processes and procedures for data collection and analysis. > AODM (based on AT) analyzes and informs design of technological systems

8 8 Cases, Participants, Data Sources Case studies > Currently, we have completed data collection and preliminary analysis of 5 cases > We conduct 2–3 cases per semester Participants > Faculty, experienced WebCT-Vista users > Key collaborators (i.e., TA, tech support staff) > Students Data sources > Ethnographic interviews (individual, group) > Observation/analysis of teaching and learning activity in online learning environment

9 9 Key Concepts in Activity Theory Subjects—individual(s) from whose frame of reference the analysis is focused Object/ive—the “problem space,” or the “what” in what it is the subjects are producing or acting upon through their activity. Tools—cultural artifacts (material, symbolic) that provide the “means” for conducting activity. Rules—principles, expectations, norms, and conventions that constrain or regulate how an activity is carried out Community—stakeholders who share the same object/ive Division of labor— allocation of tasks and responsibilities

10 10 Identifying Best Practice in Learner- Centered Online Environments Best practice occurs when the components of the activity system are aligned with each other and the stated goals of the activity

11 11 Modeling the Activity in Terms of Activity Theory Example: A small group activity supports collaborative knowledge production

12 12 Analyzing Models for Best Practice: Example of a Gap in the Alignment Case Involving Individual Assignments Components of activity not aligned to support instructor’s implicit expectation for students to engage each other in threaded discussion

13 13 Analyzing Models for Best Practice: Example of Successful Alignment Case Involving Collaborative Group Work Components of activity are aligned to support instructor’s implicit and explicit expectation for students to engage each other in threaded discussion

14 14 In this study, developing learner-centered online environments involved > extensive collaboration among development team members > brainstorming sessions and efforts to put oneself in the place of a student completing learning activities > design solutions that required faculty and ID to cross into each others disciplinary boundaries > shared responsibility between faculty and ID for designing online pedagogy > attention to communication, especially clear instructions for online learning activities that compensate for lack of face-to-face interactions and anticipate potential gaps in understanding Based on four cases of faculty developing and instructing distance courses Preliminary Findings

15 15 Implications for Faculty Support It was important to have an experienced instructional designer (ID) on the development team > Faculty with little or no ID experience did not have the capacity themselves to design the learning activities and the technology > Experienced faculty required development and technical support, but as peripheral resources rather than central team members.

16 16 Implications for Faculty Support Designing learner-centered online environments required keeping pedagogic and other formative principles in the forefront during discussions, especially during decision-making events. > It is important for a faculty member to have access to instructional designers and other consultants, who can share in identifying these pedagogic principles and assist in identifying technological solutions that embody them

17 17 Future Directions Identify support issues specific to distance and web-enhanced courses Apply the AODM to > inform the design of our faculty development programs > help consultants work with faculty in developing learner- centered online environments. > review, analyze, and inform revisions to workshop curricula

18 18 Future Directions Explore the following questions over the next 5 case studies: Can AODM provide a structured approach to unify many learning theories and principles to inform the design of online learner-centered activities? Can AODM be a flexible method to generate design constraints and explore answers to these design constraints? Can consultants use the AODM sub-activity triangle visual method to communicate design considerations to faculty and to help faculty reflect on online teaching practices?

19 19 Acknowledgments The investigators wish to thank Steve Cawley, Associate Vice President and CIO, Office of Information Technology, and Shih-Pau Yen, Deputy CIO, Office of Information Technology for their support of this project. And to thank Chris Scruton, DMC consultant, for help with poster presentation.

20 20 Copyright ©2006 Brad Belbas, Christine Greenhow, Linda Jorn, and J. D. Walker. This work is the intellectual property of the authors. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non- commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the authors. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the authors.

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