One of my favourite references in this book was to a paper by Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Teaching Naked (Bowen, 2012) on “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” outlined below:
Good practice in undergraduate education:
- encourages contact between students and faculty,
- develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
- encourages active learning,
- gives prompt feedback,
- emphasizes time on task,
- communicates high expectations, and
- respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
Well, if this isn’t what we have in our online courses in PIDP!
When I first started the Instructors Diploma Program, I really strove to take all of the courses in a physical classroom setting. I am the type of learner who really responds to the synergy in the classroom.
This has proven to be almost impossible to achieve given location and scheduling constrictions. A number of times when a course would be scheduled in my area, it would be cancelled because of low registration.
In light of the difficulty in trying to get into a classroom setting, I succumbed and registered for my first online course in the program. I have to say that I really struggled, getting used to knowing where to look for different things was a challenge. At the end of the first course I didn’t feel comfortable with the format at all.
Then there was the next course, and the next. Now I cannot imagine not doing all of my courses online.
Kudo’s to VCC’s instructors in developing online courses that completely align with “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”. (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016)
Encourages contact between students and faculty
What could be better than – in reality – having your instructor available almost anytime you needed them; available at the tip of your fingers? I have had instructors who really helped me get through a rough time in a course; simply because they were often available at times they would not have been in a classroom setting.
Using video instruction along with Skype, ooVoo and other technology brings the student and the instructor together in ways that are not possible in a classroom setting.
Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
The use of discussion forums and showcasing other students’ projects and their discoveries about the subject matter opens a whole new world to the online student – again not really available in a classroom setting to the same extent. (As a side note – when I was developing my blog – and was extremely frustrated, it was encouraging to me to know that hearing from my fellow students; I was not the only one feeling that way).
”Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort that a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning. Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to others’ reactions sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.” (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016).
Encourages active learning
Again – the use of discussion forums opens up a whole new world of research to the online student. Resources that I may not have found, a fellow student may have. We all learn to actively seek out the knowledge and share it with our fellow students.
“Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.” (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016).
Gives prompt feedback
One of my favourites. Feedback is one of the most important components of instructions. It completes the learning loop. How does a student know if they have done well, or not, if the feedback is not timely. It gives the student, and perhaps the instructor time to correct the path of instruction before it is too late. The majority of the instructors in the online classes have given very prompt feedback, in some cases that was a good thing for me as I was headed down the wrong road on an assignment.
“Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning. Students need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses. When getting started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge and competence. In classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement. At various points during college, and at the end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how to assess themselves.” (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016)
Emphasizes time on task
In my previous online courses, I wanted to read everything, follow every thread, and watch every video that the instructor and my fellow classmates had posted. Well, that was just about impossible. I found myself getting so far behind, wanting to know it all. In looking back, the instructor had really laid out the path to success in the course assignments, and schedules. I was happy to see that included in the schedule for this course as well.
“Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute for time on task. Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time management. Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and effective teaching for faculty. How an institution defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis of high performance for all.” (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016)
Communicates high expectations
In the PIDP program, not only in the online classes, but the in person ones as well, a path to success is always clearly laid out in the marking rubrics. The student then basically chooses how much effort they will put forth. What it takes to have a great paper, assignments, whatever is clearly laid out and often supplemented by examples of previous students work.
“Expect more and you will get more. High expectations are important for everyone — for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well-motivated. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations for themselves and make extra efforts.” (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016).
Respects diverse talents and ways of learning
Many choices are given in this course about what the student can do for their projects and assignments. My first assignments that took me out of my comfort zone – creating a blog, doing an online presentation – wow – did I struggle! Upon reflection, I’m glad I did.
Even choosing in this course to use a blog as one of my assignments is stretching me – I really want to learn how to use this tool effectively as I can really see incorporating it to my courses given the restraints from my employer that I have.
“There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the seminar room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio. Students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learn in new ways that do not come so easily.” (Chickering and Gamson (1987) as cited in Charlotte, 2016)
My challenge as an instructor will always be my employer’s slow adoption of technology in the workplace. A big corporation moves slowly. I know that I will be able to create a blog as a resource for my students and create online videos on specific concepts. Having these available to the students before they attend classes and as a supplement to the current self-study courses will lead to more in class time to have broader discussions and take on more challenging concepts.
Bowen, J. A. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint (Bowen, 2012)
Charlotte, 2016, U. (2016). Learning resources. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://teaching.uncc.edu/learning-resources/articles-books/best-practice/education-philosophy/seven-principles
OnlineUniversities. (2013, March 18). Teachers Love Technology. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from Blog, http://www.onlineuniversities.com/teachers-love-technology