Online and face-to-face courses have the same goals however the instructional design is different. The goals remain the same, but the methods changes.
Online learning is particularly appropriate for developing what are generically called 21st century learning skills. Online learning is about managing knowledge: how to find, evaluate, analyze, and apply information within a specific knowledge domain. It’s not possible these days to cover content. New knowledge is expanding daily and will continue to grow. Your challenge is to develop lifelong learning skills that will enable your learners to continue to ‘manage knowledge’ long after they have graduated.
- Design your online course in ways that give learners opportunities to learn and practice the skills that will be evaluated on as part of the formal assessment process.
- Use the Internet as a major resource for learning. Give your learners more responsibility for finding and evaluating information themselves. Begin by providing criteria and guidelines for finding, evaluating, analyzing and applying information.
- Use a critical approach to thinking about the Internet and modern media – both their potential and limitations within your specific subject.
Your learners need to be able to communicate in a variety of ways. Writing and speaking skills remain critical, but increasingly the ability to communicate through modern media using social media. Online learning offers many opportunities to develop social media skills. YouTube, blogs and wikis are particularly important in areas such as business, journalism, health and education.
The ability to learn individually or as part of a group a fundamental learning skill in the 21st century. The ability to continually learn, either individually or through informal peer networks, is critical for knowledge-based organizations. Online learning, by its nature, requires learners to take responsibility for managing their learning. A skill that must be taught. Learners mostly enter community college as dependent learners.
Bring in the world to your teaching. For example you can have learners collect data, provide real world examples of concepts or issues, use mobile phone cameras or audio interviews of local experts, or set up a course wiki for you and your learners to contribute to.
Assessment drives student behavior. If your learners are not to be assessed on 21st century skills, they won’t make the effort to develop them. Communicate very clearly to your learners your 21st century learning goals and how they will be assessed. Many learners, who are used to being fed content then tested on their memory of it, will have a new appreciation for learning how to learn.
In some ways, with the Internet (as with other media), the medium is the message. Each medium brings another way of knowing. We can either fight the medium, and try to force old content into new bottles, or we can shape the content to the form of the medium. Because the Internet is a huge new force in our lives, we need to be sure that we are making the most of its potential in our teaching, even if that means changing how we teach.