One year before the pandemic and the phenomena of home school that followed, I made an online course and tested it in my classroom. In the following text, I present the thoughts and some of the planning that went into the project.
What type of course?
There are many ways to organize an online course: MOOCs, blended or mixed methods, flipped classrooms, self-instructional or tutor-guided courses, etc. The possibilities are many, and each course type offers different opportunities, even though much of the learning material and resources might seem almost the same.
When deciding what type of course to offer, I have chosen to evaluate the target group, the context, and the ILO. In this case, the course will be a required course for pupils in Secondary school, they will do it as a part of the subject Norwegian, and the ILOs are fetched but adjusted and adapted from the national curriculum.
The course subject is «from neo-romanticism to modernism». That is a small part of the curriculum, and usually, I will spend about 2-3 lessons on that specific subject. However, I intend to add a few more goals from other parts of the curriculum. I can plan a learning resource that will last for 10-20 hours (including homework).
If the target group were students in higher education, the course could be organized as a self-instructional course or even as a MOOC. In such a scenario, it would not be unreasonable to take for granted that the students have a certain level of literacy and reading skills. Therefore the study guide and instructions could be in a written form, with maybe some explanatory videos besides. And that would perhaps be enough.
In my case, the «students» are 14-15 years old, and their experience with online courses is often limited to watching makeup tutorials and Fortnite videos. That is why it probably makes sense to choose a blended approach. The students will be present in class and thereby have access to the teacher. In my opinion, this might work with the target group. There will, of course, be a written course description and a study guide, but I will explain the content of those documents in class.
The course about neo-romanticism and modernism will be a blended, tutor-guided course. Some parts of it will be self-instructional, but most will be done in the classroom with a teacher present. It is probably a good idea to consider that the pupils need much scaffolding and help even to get started because this is a new way of working with subjects for them. They have done some online lessons before, but not at this scale. Also, although they are familiar with some parts of the LMS, they have not used it to complete a whole part of the curriculum before.
Course and pedagogical approach?
The pedagogical approach will be social-constructive and student-centered (in adherence to Vygotsky and Dewey). In addition, different motivational theories, such as the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) by Deci and Ryan, will be implemented to make sure «(…) the emphasis is on learning, rather than on teaching» (Bjørke, 2015).
Salmon’s five-stage model is a natural didactic approach because of the social-constructive mindset that lies behind the model. According to John Biggs, the same goes for constructive alignment, where the relationship between assessment, teaching strategies, and intended learning outcomes is in focus.
What does the course type imply for the course design?
There will be a variety of tasks and instructions. The pupils will do the activities in pairs (læringspartner) or small groups according to the social-constructive theories of Vygotsky and Salmon’s five-stage model. Some of the learning resources will be a part of the LMS itself, and other resources might be provided or suggested even though they reside outside the confinement of the LMS (It’s learning).
Because autonomy and variation are essential factors for intrinsic motivation, I will provide many different options for hand-ins and deliveries. Dewey, Vygotsky, Biggs, and Salmon form a foundation for the online course. Besides, some of the motivational theories of Csíkszentmihályi and Deci and Ryan are important to remember.
A full-fledged online course might seem a bit too much if both the teacher and the pupils are present in the same room at the same time. However, at the same time, a self-instructional course or a blended course with a focus on social-constructive methods will automatically change the direction from teaching to learning. That in itself is a good thing. Also, the shift from teaching to learning gives the teacher a chance to spend some extra time on those who need additional support and scaffolding or even just someone to talk to.
- Bjørke, S. Å. (2015). Guidelines for analysing and developing an online course. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://ufbutv.com/2015/03/26/guidelines-for-analysing-and-developing-an-online-course/