1. Reflecting on the information covered in this module so far, how might your instructional methodologies need to change in an online or blended learning environment?
2. What skills and strategies might you improve or expand upon in order to best support student learning in a blended or online environment?
I believe the areas in which methodologies, resources, and strategies need to be modified the most when going from a face-to-face environment to an online environment are 1) planning, 2) resource selection and mode of delivery, 3) communication, and 4) monitoring student progress.
In both f2f and online teaching, the planning and development of lesson objectives, content and materials are (or should be) planned and developed ahead of time. In a f2f class, experienced teachers often make daily adjustments to pacing, materials, modes of delivery, and grouping based upon how students are doing. It may be easier to note when students are struggling, disengaged, or conversely have already mastered the material and are ready to move on. Adjustments in content or delivery can be made on a continual or an on-the fly basis. Although adaptive software that continually assesses and monitors student progress and then delivers individualized content has become more prevalent in blended learning (especially in intervention or credit recovery programs), it is not as common in fully online classes. In a wholly online environment, content is generally a little more structured and is developed and posted ahead of time. It can be more difficult to know when a student is "not getting it" since most of the work may be done asynchronously and teachers can't see facial expressions or read body language (unless video conferencing). Teachers must use frequent checks for understanding and should incorporate self-checks for students to help them monitor their own learning. Online teachers should provide supplemental resources for differentiation and to address different modalities and they can make themselves accessible to help students through discussion boards, email, chat and conferencing tools like Skype and Adobe Connect.
Making adjustments in the methods and modes of communication can be very important to support student learning, facilitate engagement, and monitor progress. Since synchronous verbal discourse is minimal or non-existent in fully online learning (except for the occasional video conference),students cannot get nuances of meaning through facial expressions, tone of voice, inflections, or gestures. Much of the communication will be in written format and can be supplemented with audio recordings and short videos. Teachers have to adjust to this and choose their written or recorded wording carefully to convey both meaning and tone. Students may also need to be taught how to communicate effectively and respectfully in an online format.
Multimedia and Web 2.0 tools should be utilized to stimulate engagement and increase communication. I am fortunate to have used a variety of these tools when I was in the John Hopkins-ISTE online Admin program. The area that I will need to work on the most will be to effectively design learning activities and incorporate these tools into engaging coursework for students.