The following reflection was written as a final assignment for my EDLD 5018 Lamar University course. I was asked to reflect on my experience in creating my own online course over the past 5 weeks from the perspective of a leadership role. For this, I chose to respond to the questions from the perspective of the Owen J. Roberts High School principal.
I have learned so much over the past 5 weeks about how to create an effective online course and why online learning is so important moving forward both for professional development and my own classroom. I look forward to applying what I have learned and created!
Owen J. Roberts High School has a long history of success both in the classroom and through extracurriculars. We have come to be this way because of our ability and desire to adjust our learning environment with the times. It is no secret that over the past decades many educational trends have come and gone, and each one has significantly impacted schools. One that has strengthened with time is online learning, and as the current Owen J. Roberts High School principal, it is my responsibility to encourage this development within classrooms in order to help our teachers better equip our students with 21st century skills.
It is important to understand the design theories that best support online learning before its expansion. Encouraging teachers to take approaches based on constructivism and connectivism will best serve our students’ needs in online learning because they are meant for students to lead their own educations with the guidance of teachers. The freedom provided with this type of learning encourages students to connect their learning to prior experiences both in and out of the classroom, and this ability to synthesize information is a fundamental skill (Bates, 2015). Both these theories also encourage learning through experience where problem-solving is a key component, and considering multiple perspectives when doing this is a benefit (LearningDctr, 2010). Our goal should not simply be to upload current lectures and activities, but it should instead ask teachers to create custom content for an online environment (iversityclips, 2013). Here, students work together to solve problems, make connections, and in turn actively learn the skills that will prepare them for the next stages of their lives.
Once the design theories are established it is important to determine desired outcomes, which can be done using the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework. This will encourage all teachers to plan with the end result in mind. For example, when creating the online professional development course Introduction to ePortfolios, the creator first determined what she wanted teachers to understand when they complete the course. This then helped her determine its structure and the discussions and assignments within each session. These all relate to the overall purpose of the course which is for teachers to have a better understanding of how ePortfolios can improve classroom instruction, student engagement, and student learning. This framework ensures student success and consistent content.
As previously mentioned technology and online learning are educational trends that have not waivered throughout the years. This is because they offer significant improvements to the education system. A reason that Owen J. Roberts High School is currently developing online courses for the 2017-2018 school year is for flexibility. Specifically, there have been studies that support a later start time for school. After many surveys and meetings, we have decided to offer online options so students can arrive later to school. This flexibility can also be seen for students who are unable to attend school. No matter what the reason may be, offering courses online will allow students anywhere across the globe to participate (iversityclips, 2013). While this is more likely to occur in higher education, wide-spread collaboration is something that students will need experience with when they enter the work force. Additionally, online learning provides opportunities for a wide variety of multimedia content that can be viewed whenever a student needs to do so and at whatever pace (Bates, 2015; iversityclips, 2013). These reasons, along with the fact that students need to be prepared with digital skills, are just a few of the many reasons online learning should be adopted at Owen J. Roberts.
As a principal at this successful high school, it is important that I continuously reflect on my performance and place myself within the classroom (physical or online) regularly to assist in improving learning environments. With that in mind, one thing can be said and understood about online learning and education in general: it is never complete. As time passes and the world changes, we too need to adjust our learning philosophies and methods (Bates, 2015). Specifically, the levels of understanding that our teachers have across the country and within the school are vast. Instead of applying the technology that most teachers use in their daily lives, many continue to develop courses offline and keep technology out of the classroom (ChangSchool, 2011). We must continue evolving as educators if we expect our students to evolve as 21st century learners and be successful in the 21st century job market.
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
ChangSchool. (2011, January 26). Perspectives: Teacher skills in a digital age [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_BJcRVYQsE
iversityclips. (2013, August 18). What is a MOOC? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_N_NHbC80E
LearningDctr. (2010, June 17). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism & learning and instructional theory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YOqgXjynd0