Models For Online Course Development

There is no doubt that the role of the internet has a huge role to play in the delivery of quality learning. The demand pressure of the largest high school graduation class in 2008 (3.2 million graduating seniors) on traditional brick and mortar institutions as well as the need of corporations to supplement training with "just-in-time" training modules in order to meet job expectations, has led to great innovation and advancement in the use of online learning environments for course delivery. The trick in this ever growing dependency on online learning and management systems is developing learning that captures the imagination and keeps the attention of the learner long enough to meet the measurable learning objectives of the instructor.

Creating learning in an online environment is not as simple as placing a course syllabus, chapters from a book and an examination online and hoping for the best. Learners, particularly adult learners have different ways in which they acquire knowledge and look for a more experiential learning system to enhance understanding and usefulness of the course. Instructor inspired online courses that are designed with the needs of the learner in mind are a far more effective way to deliver education online, as oppose to leaving course development to computer technocrats with no knowledge or experience with the pedagogy of learning.

What is Meant by Models for Online Learning?
Models for online learning include methods and technologies that enable learners to grow from the learning experience. These include the incorporation of a pedagogical approach that is learner focused and encourages participation and interaction. The best models for online learning are dynamic, not static; that is learning takes place best when the learner feels engaged and participates in the learning process.

Why is it important to consider the needs of the learner in designing effective online courses? The quality of any learning starts with the experience of the learner. An instructor who designs courses of any type, whether for traditional classroom delivery or online, have a clear objective to add to the knowledge of their students. If learners have a hard time grasping the subject matter being taught or disengage from the learning, this calls in question the instructor's ability and effectiveness.

How Can an Institution Create An Effective Online Learning Program?
Recognizing as the foundation that effective online learning comes from the learner's perspective (learner centered), an institution best serves its learning community by adapting those techniques that have been proven to work with increasing knowledge. We know through the world of educational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bloom in the 1950s that the goals or purpose of learning is to impart knowledge, skills and attitude ("KSA"). Known as Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, this process goes beyond rote memorization of facts and figures and takes the learner to a higher level of deductive reasoning and thinking.

An effective online course is created by adopting the basic principles of Bloom's Taxonomy and utilizing tools and techniques that challenge the learner to interact with the learning, challenge assumptions and supplement their learning with new knowledge based on culture context and experience.

What Are the Best Models Available for Online Course Development?
The best model for online learning is those that are based on a system of social constructivism. Simply put, social constructivism allows the learner to use their past experiences and cultural context to incorporate learning. The most effective models for online learning and course development begin with a mechanism that allows the learner to be an active participant as oppose to a passive student.

Models for online course development that adopt Knowles adult learning theory (known as Androgogy) tend to be the best way to impart training in the most effective way. Androgogy (adult pedagogy) is based on six principles: (1) need to know; (2) self-direct learning in order to control purpose and techniques; (3) importance of prior experience; (4) readiness (eagerness) to learn; (5) problem solving learning orientation; and, (6) motivation to learn. Designing online courses on the basis of these principles are a good way to yield learning that meets measurable outcomes.
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