Week 2: Overview
In the past, teaching took place primarily in face-to-face environments and teachers taught a relatively homogenous group of individuals. The learner audience that well-known educational researcher, Malcolm Knowles studied to develop his “andragogical” perspective on what adult learners need and want from teachers was much less diverse than you are likely to encounter as you explore teaching and facilitating online. Many factors contribute to this increasing diversity and there are various perspectives on how best to respond. Although the general principles of adult learning are still helpful to consider, the diversity of online learners requires a flexible and responsive teaching approach.
Your adult learners are likely to appreciate knowing why and how they are to learn (and be evaluated) and enjoy learning activities that are relevant, applicable, and meaningful. But they may need you to offer more assignment choices, to communicate in different ways, or to offer different types of support to help them participate successfully in the learning environment. You’ll need to balance the possibilities of the technologies available for online learning with the beliefs, expectations, and abilities of your diverse audience.
When you teach online, you have to adapt your teaching strategies and the way you develop learning activities, to accommodate the impact of the change in learning environment and the ways in which you can monitor, interact and adapt your practice with each new group of learners. You will need to think about how your beliefs about teaching might affect how you approach online teaching and learning.
During this week, you'll explore some ideas that may help you respond to the rapid changes in technological possibilities, the diverse expectations and needs of your online learners, and your own beliefs, knowledge and skills as an online facilitator.
The least important thing this week is becoming an expert on any learning theory, technology or teaching strategy. The most important thing is understanding the main IDEAS, and being able to USE them to inform your thinking and problem-solving when you are deciding how to facilitate a course, workshop or learning activity online.