Monday, June 15, 2015

Topic 6: Designing Learning Environments

Design is not what it looks but how it works....

from: http://www.evolllution.com/distance_online_learning/massive-open-online-learning-creativity-and-competency/

Of all the topics in this course, I can say that Topic 6: Designing Learning Environments is the most interesting topic for me because designing in general is not an easy task to do, you have to bring out the creativity in you without loosing the real content of what the subject matter is. What more in designing learning environments which is actually the foundation of learning and the encouragement of students to actively participate in the course? But what is a good design or shall we say how can we measure if an online course is properly designed or not? A lot of models and frameworks are available but the question is what fits the most or what is the most effective among them?

I agree with Professor Gilly Salmon on her interview about "Scaffolding for Online Learning" where it necessary to help students gradually engage with online learning, which acts as a design tool and a guide for the student, and the actual framework of how to take part with others to share knowledge. I guess the biggest challenge here is how to design a model or a framework that will encourage students to participate and make them realize that online leaning is all about collaboration with others rather than sitting remotely. 

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, at first I was really hesitant to actively participate since I was ashamed to share my own thoughts because I came from different culture. I was thinking that the others might not like what I am going to say or share to the community or the group. It is a good thing that ONL151 course is designed to encourage participants to express their own selves.  Gradually, I became more comfortable participating in the group chat, meetings, webinars etc. Honestly, the feeling of "belongingness" from the group is one of the factors that made me stay in the course with the support and appreciation of other members and facilitator especially Anne Norling and Alastair Creelman gave me the motivation to pursue the course. 

The 7C's of Learning Design by Gr√°inne Conole is a useful guide in designing Online course because teachers make design decisions that are pedagogically effective and make appropriate use of digital technologies. In addition, it also helps teachers to make their designs explicit through visualization for them to be shared and discussed with others. 
I think, this will be great help for me to design more structured learning environments and enhance my existing resources as well. With all the suggested models, frameworks and pedagogical patterns being suggested, I can just explore depending on who will be my students and their learning objectives or the skill they need to acquire.

After the theoretical aspect of designing learning environment, I guess the other factor we can consider is our own initiatives as a teacher or shall we say the other side of being a teacher which is the dedication. In Osmond Simpson's paper about "Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?", motivating people is a good thing to do to encourage them to become active learners. I agree on what he stated in his paper that most educators would agree on the central importance of motivation to a learner's success and a learner who is fully motivated will overcome barriers of situation and time, find ways of developing appropriate skills and be able to deal with the stress of study with very little extra external support which results to an independent learner. Base on my own point of view, a regular and personal communication will help to keep students involved. Proper or tactful way of giving feedback based on their assigned tasks or activities will also encourage them to work well and participate.

Well, a lot of techniques are being suggested in designing learning environments that will be useful to the teachers/designers, they just have to fit it on the needs of the learners.




References:

  1. Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. Download as PDF (In press).
  2.  Simpson, O. (2008). Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?. Open Learning23(3), 159-170. Available here.
  3. Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (pp 419-439). Athabasca University Press. Available here.






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