Creating a student-centered online course means that you’ve captured a real learning experience for all

What does it really mean to create an effective online course that is “student-centered”?

         When I think of student-centered I think student-centered vs. teacher-centered and the difference between the two.  With student-centered learning, students are actively engaged in creating, understanding, and connecting to knowledge and learning. As said in the critical thinking article, “thinking is driven by questions”.  In that article, love the heading, “Dead questions reflect dead minds”!  “If we want thinking, we must stimulate it with questions that lead students to further questions”.  This is how the students make a “student-centered environment” which in turn lets the students do most of the work.

         In much of the research on this topic, it shows that in student-centered environments, there is a higher motivation to learn as students feel they have a real stake in their own learning rather than the teacher being the sole source of information. 

          The web course design needs to be more “student-centered”.  It should be designed as a learning environment and not just a bulletin board of information.  Also a more detailed syllabus is necessary for the online course.  Faculty development programs geared around transitioning the f2f lectures to the online learning environment must be a priority.  Scheduling time for “mental white space” in a course means allowing time for reflection and some down time for students throughout the course. (Alley 2001).

         Alley mentions that we need “to rely on great teachers as pioneers and mentors”.  These teachers are studying the instructional technology and applying learning science in order to enhance learning quality.  Alley states that “these are the teachers we need to rely on to mentor their colleagues”.   After taking ETAP687, I’m certain that I met these teachers, not only our instructor, Alex Pickett and the SLN faculty whose courses we observed, but my classmates, who I know all put in a ton of hard work to get through this course!  We can’t stop now!  Good luck all!

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          Alley, L. (2001). What makes a good online course?  The administrator’s role in quality assurance of online learning. Converge, 4(11), 50, 52+, retrieved from Education Research Complete (EBSCO), November 2007.

           Pelz, B (2004). (My) Three principles of effective online pedagogy. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8.3.

         The critical thinking community(2008). The role of questions in teaching, thinking, and learning. Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org 6/25/2008.

         The critical thinking community(2008). The art of redesigning instruction. http://www.criticalthinking.org/page.cfm?PageID=520&CategoryID=63 Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org 6/29/2008.

— Geralynn (4)

Getting material for this week’s reflection post was a bit scary, but real!

After reviewing my classmates coursework I am amazed at the talent and energies they have put into their work for this course.  You can tell that the work is something they are passionate about and that it means more to them than “just an assignment”.  I really believe that the work I saw could be online courses that they could teach.  I reflected on my own course that I developed, hiking 101.  I really hope that some day I can teach an online hiking course.  This summer I put so much energy into this course work by not only spending time online developing, reading, completing the assignments, but in addition to all of that work, I put myself on the hiking trails to try and experience what it would be like to teach the course, and to be a student of the course.   I bought two books that I thought I could use, I read them and I used them in the development of the course.  I took many pictures on my hikes and used a few in my course work.  I thought a lot about hiking safety. 

Today, it was a scary hiking day for me.  I wanted to experience what it would be like if I got caught in a rainstorm so I could share some real experiences in the future.  I took shelter in a lean-to while an amazing thunderstorm passed by.  My nerves were not good.  My hiking buddy was inexperienced, but she was not afraid and kind of calmed me down a bit.  We were two hours from the car and I moved quickly back down the mountain in record time.  She kept up pretty good, I stopped to let her catch up and told her to be careful since the trails were wet.  I usually cancel a hike if I hear thunderstorms are coming, but today was a day to experience some tough stuff.  I built a blog for my hiking 101 course, and I just added a post.  Please check it out.  Today I used my experience as material for both this course’s reflection as well as an entry for my blog development for the  hiking 101 course.  Go to: http://catsmtnhiker.edublogs.org  Thanks and let me know what you think.

Geralynn (3)

Putting the finishing touches on the course creation has consumed me 100%!

I can’t believe how much I’m loving putting all my energies into the final stages of the hiking 101 course I’m developing!  I have experimented with creating a wav file and incorporated it into my course.  I used http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ and I borrowed a real decent microphone from the college AV department where I work and I’ve been practicing.  I didn’t realize that there is such a real science to recording your voice and you have to pay attention to dictation and pronunciation.  I gave it my best try.  (Gulp, I recorded it over dozens of times!)  I also went to http://www.flickr.com/ and uploaded my hiking photos.  I wanted to create an rss feed into my blog that I created specifically for my hiking 101 course.  I’m having trouble getting the feed link onto my new blog.  I don’t know exactly what the feed url is to tell my blog page. 

So I created a second blog, called: http://catsmtnhiker.edublogs.org/  I put a link to it in my course creation.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to make it great, but at least the idea is there and how I’ll use it in my course.  I guess at this point I should stop looking at new ideas and work with what I have.  It’s just that it has become real addicting and I find myself thinking more and more about what I can do to develop it better. 

What I have learned in this past 2 weeks is just so hard to write down because I have really worked hard and getting all of the pieces together.  I have learned so much from this course with Alex and the rest of my classmates that I want to thank all of you!   I have grown so much and I know it’s only the beginning.  I want to spend some time putting together all of my resources learned from this course so I don’t forget them.  There were so many great tools.

So at this point, I believe I’m in the “prettying up stage” and I’ve spent so much time on new tools, that I hope I haven’t neglected something.  I’ll look it all over once again and I’m sure when it’s time for critiques, I’ll learn how I can improve further or what I forgot! 

— Geralynn (4)