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A GUIDE TO CREATING QUALITY ONLINE LEARNING DOING DISTANCE EDUCATION WELL
DOING E-LEARNING WELL This job aid has been designed for individuals and others to inform and guide them in how best to prepare an organization that is requesting or interested in training people via an eLearning environment so as to maximize the benefit of the eLearning training/experience. e-Learning is a broad subject area. The purpose of this document is to provide some general topics on the subject in order to provide starter ideas in the development of a distance learning experience.
E-LEARNING TOPICS CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS IS THE ORGANIZATION READY FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION? PREPARING CLIENTS FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION (INSTITUTIONAL COMMITMENT) PREPARING STUDENTS FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION LEARNING A CASE STUDY: EDUTECNOLOGIA, SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
MAPPING YOUR ROUTE TO DOING D.E. WELL… ORGANIZATIONAL READINESS PREPARING YOUR CLIENTS FOR D.E. CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE DISTANCE LEARNING PREPARING YOUR STUDENTS FOR THE DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT ROAD MAP TO SUCCESS START… STUDENT EVALUATION OF COURSE
CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS THERE ARE FOUR ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS THAT CAN MAKE THE ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCE SUCCESSFUL AND REWARDING. RESEARCHERS HAVE ANALYIZIED COUNTLESS SUCCESSFUL DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSES FROM VARIOUS CONTENT AREAS AND THE RESULTS HAVE SHOWN THAT EACH OF THE COURSES THAT WERE LOOKED AT SHARED FOUR COMMON TRAITS. I. COURSES ARE WELL-DESIGNED AND STRUCTURED TO SUPPORT LEARNING a. ALL KNOWLEDGE IS CONSTRUCTED, NOT TRANSMITTED b. STUDENTS ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN LEARNING EXPERIENCE c. THE COURSE HAS ROOM FOR REFLECTION ABOUT THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE d. LEARNING ACTIVITIES MATCH UP WITH STUDENT LEARNING STYLES e. A BALANCE BETWEEN SELF-LEARNING AND GROUP LEARNING f. THE TEACHER OF THE COURSE PLAYS THE ROLE OF FACILITATOR II.COURSES ARE COLLABORATIVE AND ENGAGING IN THEIR DESIGN a. REQUIRE PARTICIPATION b. FACILITATOR SHOULD FORM LEARNING TEAMS AS A WAY TO BUILD COLLABORATION c. REQUIRE A DELIVERABLE i. STUDENTS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO TURN SOMETHING IN D. PROVIDE A STRUCTURE FOR EACH ACTIVITY i. PROVIDE A BEGINNING AND AN ENDING POINT
CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS III. CREATE AND PROVIDE AND INTERACTIVE LEARNING COMMUNITY FOR ONLINE LEARNERS a. BOTH FACILITATORS AND LEARNERS FEEL MORE MOTIVATED TOWARDS LEARNING WHEN THE ONLINE EXPERIENCE SHARES SIMILAR CHARACTERISTICS TO A GOOD FACE-TO-FACE TRADITIONAL CLASSROOM LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. b. THERE SHOULD BE WELL DESIGNED STRUCTURES WITHIN THE ONLINE COURSE THAT PROVIDE AMPLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENT-TO-STUDENT AND STUDENT-TO-TEACHER INTERACTIONS. IV. WELL THOUGHT OUT AND DESIGNED ASSESSMENTS STRATEGIES FOR THE ONLINE COURSE a. ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENTS ARE POPULAR b. TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENTS CAN BE USED AS WELL
ORGANIZATIONAL READINESS AND PREPARING THE CLIENTS A primary factor that contributes to the success of an e-learning course is undoubtedly the organizations leadership and and its commitment to the e-learning project. The items below represent minimum quality standards for organizations that want to successfully deliver learning and/or training at a distance. These standards come from years of research considering what characteristics create a satisfying and successful e-learning experience for those involved at the organizational decision level. 1.Ensure that the organization has appropriate and necessary personnel. 2.Develop an organizational plan for recruiting and training facilitators and mentors. 3.Make technical personnel and expertise available. 4.Provide hardware, software, and technical support. 5.Ensure that there is broad acceptance for building and maintaining the course. 6.Put security measures in place for both content and students. 7.Consider and set a budget. 8.Create a means of communicating to facilitators and students. 9.Organizational leadership should provide visible and sustained support for new training implementation. a.Leaders must model desired behavior outwardly, so participation in an e-learning session would be preferable b.Leaders are expected to recognize and reward e-learning participation c.Leaders should have ownership of the overall change management plan for implementing e-learning opportunities.
It is not only important to prepare the organization for a successful e-learning experience, it is also of great importance to prepare the students who will be taking (and hopefully) completing the distance learning course. There are two areas of focus in preparing e-learning students for a rewarding e-learning experience. Learning Effectiveness and Student Support. LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS: The chart on the right shows an online learning continuum for skill mastery and effective student learning within an e-Learning environment. Students demonstrate greater levels of successful learning when given opportunities for active learning and collaboration. Students need to have access to materials that provide consistent involvement with the learning material and with fellow online learners as well as regualr feedback to reassure them of continuing progress. To enhance effective student e-Learning, a level of instructional design resembling the diagram on the right can be used as a model when designing an online course. PREPARING STUDENTS FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION LEARNING
STUDENT SUPPORT: Recent studies in the area of student preparation for online learning have yielded interesting results. The studies have indicated that there is a clear need for adequate student preparation prior to the start of an online learning experience. Below are some of the areas to consider in preparing and supporting students for a successful e-Learning experience. Pre-assessment of student readiness Student welcome letter to the e-Learning course Date class begins/ends Number of required synchronous meetings and when they will take place Number of optional synchronous meetings (if any) and when they will take place Examination information Course access information Technical requirements Amount of time students will need to spend in the course Technical support information Orientation class prior to the start of an e-Learning course. Configuration of computers Configuration of software to be used Practice with the LMS (Learning Management System)
FOLLOWING-UP The quality of follow-up in an e-Learning course is a component that is often overlooked or forgotten Follow-up has been noted as an important variable in the e-Learning experience of students. Below are some ways to provide affective forms of follow-up to online distance learners. Ask students to email you a short summary of the two or three learning experiences they walked away with after the conclusion of the online course. Post collected results in a central location for other students in the course to see. A week or so after the course, ask students how they have applied their new learning. At the end of the course, challenge students to apply 1-3 new skills from the course into their real-world environment.
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