Through my research, I have learned that it is essential that all courses, both in person and online, are built from a combination of all of the main instructional design theories, including connectivism. It is through behaviorism, congnitivsm, constructivism, and connectivism that people are fully able to remember, process, and experience (in other words, truly learn) material presented to them. In behaviorism, students in a class setting are kind of molded to have certain kinds of reactions for stimuli (Bates, 2015, 2.3). For example, learning classroom norms and routines is a pretty important aspect of learning. So, by making sure that students react a certain way (raise their hands, post a discussion response, etc.) based on particular stimuli, we are utilizing that learning theory. In cognitivsm, students are relying on their “thinking” side of things. Teachers use what we know as Bloom’s Taxonomy to order their thinking skill levels, using verbs such as evaluate, synthesize, comprehend, etc. (Bates, 2015, 2.4). In all courses, we must utilize this aspect of learning in order to ask important critical thinking questions to process the information we are presented. In constructivism, Bates explains that students learn through their experiences, and that hands-on learning is essential (Bates, 2015, 2.5). In classrooms, many students need to create, or experience, in order to process the information presented, and therefor it is essential to incorporate this kind of learning in your classroom, both online and in person. Finally, there is connectivism. Connectivism is a process where information is connected through various networks rather than constructed (Bates, 2015, 2.6). Connectivism seems more appropriate in today’s world, where we are constantly being inundated with various pieces of information all at once, and it is up to us to connect it and make sense of it all in an instant. I believe that I leaned more towards the constructivism and connectivism learning theories in my course, but I feel as though I incorporated all of them in some way or another.
In Understanding by Design, it is important to create goals, both large and small, before learning takes place. Then, once goals have been set, learning activities can be planned in order to help achieve those goals (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). We ask essential questions to come to certain key understandings that, overall, will help us achieve our goals. In utilizing UbD, I created goals for my students in my online professional learning course. I made sure that not only I, but my students (colleagues) were creating essential questions. In my course, teachers are learning a new digital tool, so it was important for me to not only have my own understandings that I wanted them to reach but also their own that they want their students to reach. Those are what I consider to be the most important learning opportunities. When my students (colleagues) are taking the course, they will be implementing the content of the course in their own classrooms, so UbD works very well with the format and purpose of the course all together.
Tony Bates has explained how critical it is to not only provide online learning opportunities, but also provide quality online learning opportunities. Because the world is changing so rapidly, and the availability of information is immediate and immense, online learning can present many benefits to people around the world. The most interesting aspect of this that I took away from the course was learning about MOOCs (Bates, 2015, 5.1). In chapter five, Bates introduces the idea of a Massive, Open, Online Course. He provides an outline for what they are (basically, courses that anyone, anywhere can take, primarily for free) and what their benefits are (so much information is available to people who might not have had access to education before due to financial or physical ties). In addition to MOOCs, Bates also explains how online learning is important because it makes it possible for teachers to utilize various learning theories, especially constructivism and connectivism. Students are held accountable in their learning because they have to process information on their own, rather than just memorizing facts. Learning is changing because the world is changing, and online classrooms might just be a major part of the answer.
Through this course, I have been questioning my learning and teaching philosophies the most. I used to believe that students needed a certain kind of pre-set rigor in order for your class to be successful. In this sense, I considered rigid due dates and lengthy assignments the answer to rigor. However, I have come to understand rigor as something entirely different now. I now understand it as a process by which students are required to ask questions, think critically, and come to their own conclusions through both constructing responses AND connecting information. I understand it to be a process that you cannot force but you can help facilitate it by creating a course that has essential questions, important goals, and information that will help students in the future, rather than just information that will help them do well on a standardized test that they could Google at any moment. Mostly, I have come to understand that learning is changing, the world is changing, and that our educational process will (or at least should) begin to change with the world before we get too far behind that we won’t be able to catch up.
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and
Learning. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (expanded 2nd edition).
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Successful online programs:
Coursera, edX, Udacity, Class Central—MOOCs
Penn State World Campus, Arizona State University, Temple, – Bachelors Degree
Drexel Online, Temple (MBA), UNC- Masters Programs