Schools, learning institutions and educators are consistently trying to build up innovative, engaging and collaborative online learning spaces. Are these spaces what we say they are and are students and teachers coming to the party with this strategy yet? Todhunter (2013) in his paper about the limitations of online learning puts forward the thesis that the framework of the terminology in online learning is inconsistent with the actual offerings available; he looks to stakeholders for clarity about what is on offer and happening out their in the wider picture.
Blended learning ; that is a combination of face to face time and online learning time is what is happening in many classrooms. School’s vary still in their uptake and variety of online learning technologies.My school leadership are still in the process of engaging the interested and influential teachers to try new types of curriculum and learning approaches, and identifying the best tools. We will then share evidence of this teaching approach and engage the other teaching staff (much like Greg Green’s strategy in his Flipped school).
A strong focus in schools is on developing teacher quality and relationships with students. Many teachers still base their relationship building with students around face to face contact – it is important. Good quality and collaborative online learning can assist with engagement of learners and in turn have a positive effect on relationships . Todhunter (2013) names the lack of social interaction as one of the most severe barriers to online learning – I say more teachers need to learn about forming social knowledge networks and integrate true collaboration into their online learning environments. This knowledge can shape good teaching pedagogy and practice. It will also lead to the amplification of learning.
If ‘flexible learning’ is enabling learners to to learn what, when and how they want (self-directed) it would be good to include this in teaching practice to help students develop a sense of ownership of their learning. Shifting the emphasis on specific needs for students by moving from mass instruction to student-directed instruction can assist in differentiation too.
So, in my workplace at the moment we need to work on the design and type of tools we use in online learning. Education for teachers about building knowledge networks through online tools will also help. There is a strong need for social interactions to build relationships between teachers and students , teachers and teachers, and between students. Blended instruction is the best way currently to do this, I believe.
November, A. (2011). Learn from a school that has completely flipped out – An interview with Greg Green on flipped learning model. [podcast]. November Learning Podcast Series. Retrieved from: http://novemberlearning.com/an-interview-with-greg-green-on-flipped-learning-model
Todhunter, B (2013) LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), p.232-252