The traditional face-to-face learning environment is teacher-centered. The teacher controls the delivery of the information. With the advent of the Internet, “access to vast resources of data and information, learners are no longer dependent on faculty for knowledge” (“Instructional Strategies for Online Courses,” 2011, para. 2). The ability to learn online has altered this dynamic enabling an environment that is controlled or negotiated by the learner. A learner-centered online classroom that has the ability to enhance the interactivity and collaboration.
Online instructors are now facilitators of information guiding students toward solutions. A change or modification to the instructor’s pedagogy is required. In order for online learning to be successful, teachers as well as learners must take on new roles in the teaching-learning relationship, and faculty must be willing to release control of learning to the students (“Instructional Strategies for Online Courses,” 2011, para. 2).
Online instructors have found that by incorporating a “full range of interactive methodologies” (“Instructional Strategies for Online Courses,” 2011, para. 3), online discussions and forums produce higher quality, deeper communication and responses.
Below are several instructional strategies identified by the Illinois Online Network (“Instructional Strategies for Online Courses”) as effective strategies used in the face-to-face classroom that can be transferred into an online learning environment:
- Discussion/Forum: Adult learner prefers this instructional strategy because it is interactive and facilitates participation. The discussion format allows the learner to explore his/her life experiences and apply them to new situation.
- Self-directed Learning: Online learning supports the self-directed learner in pursuing individualized, self-paced learning activities.
- Small Group Work: The online course can be divided into smaller, more manageable groups. The small group can discuss content, share ideas, solve problems, and provide peer feedback for assignments.
- Project: The learning experience is made more relevant with projects. Online projects can be tailored to give students an opportunity to pursue their special interests and relate to their chosen career field. Projects can be done individually or within groups.
- Collaborative Learning: Combining two or more students to work together on a project of assignment. Employers want workers with collaborative skills and are looking for graduates of educational programs that teach these skills. Collaborative learning can be more effective than competitive and individualistic efforts in promoting cognitive development, self-esteem, and positive student-student relationships. “Research shows that the academic achievement of many students is increased when collaborative rather than competitive models of instruction are used” (Campbell, Campbell, & Dickson, 2004, p. 178). Online learning models are natural environments for collaborative learning, but must be designed carefully to be effective.
The instructional strategies you employ must be specific to the course goals and objectives you want to accomplish to be effective. Methods to manage and effectively implement these instructional strategies are elaborated upon throughout the online training course. Examples are also provided.