Sunday, April 5, 2015

Summary of Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing

Bonk, C.J. & Zhang, K. (2008). Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing. Jossey-Bass.

The authors list more than 100 activities that coincide with the “Shift from text-based environments to hands-on, collaborative, and active learning activities and tools and features that enhance visual learning” (p. viii).

They write, “memorizing lists is much less important than knowing how to access them” – “emphasis on fingertip knowledge” – “Diversity, variety, flexibility, choice, and options” are key components of online teaching and learning.

The authors propose the “R2D2 Model”: Read, Reflect, Display, Do – addresses diverse learner needs, backgrounds, expectations, preferences, and styles, with more than 100 activities for online instruction categorized in one of the four phases:

Read: methods to help learners acquire knowledge through online readings, Web explorations, and listening to online content (verbal and auditory learners)
  • Dual coding theory: “there are ore pathways or possibilities to retrieve information if you have learned it in more than one format” (p. 21).
  • Includes podcasts, vodcasts, synchronous conferencing, instructional immediacy through instant messaging and text messaging with immediate feedback and rapid responsiveness – increases social presence and results in positive impact on student motivation and retention

Reflect: thinking and reflective activities such as blogs, reflective writing, self-check activities/exams (reflective and observational learners)
  • Difference from traditional instruction: students have more than 5-10 seconds to come up with a response, as in a classroom; online time is stretched, with both advantages and disadvantages
  • Pros: students can gather more data/info before contributing without facing competition or pressure = more comfort; chances to better understand perspectives of peers, tutors, instructors before participating; posts can be revisited/revised as views change
  • Cons: students may get lost, holding out on participating until “perfect” response is formulated; over-reflection; procrastinators will likely fail
  • Online writing, blogging (esp. paired blogging with “critical friends” or “Web buddies” to offer feedback to each other)
    • Specifically: 1. Blogging about the week’s readings; 2. Outlining and reevaluating key points for a paper or speech; 3. Annotating comments on the paper/ post of a team member or critical friend; 4. Pausing and reevaluating content in a videostreamed presentation; 5. Summarizing the results of a role play activity; 6. Self-testing knowledge of a chapter or a topic; 7. Comparing and contrasting different viewpoints in a debate; or 8. Providing peer comments on a paper (p. 77).
  • Note: Students are appreciative of self-checking opportunities – quizzes and tests that are low-stake, low-stress, brief/require limited time commitment.  Perhaps treat such tests as mastery assignments wherein if students receive a score at or above some criterion (for example, 75 or 80 percent), they receive a set amount of points and are allowed to jump to the next quiz or module.  If they complete all the online quizzes with passing scores, they might receive additional points.  Also consider allowing quiz retakes as often as possible if this is built into the testing system.  You might decide to use the student’s last score, average score, or highest score” (p. 85).
  • Advice and ideas for online discussion forums/group discussions: provide written guidance on a handout, Web site, blog, course announcement, or syllabus posting regarding expectations for learner participation with examples of good/bad posts; set ground rules (how to initiate discussion, how to provide critical reviews in a professional, polite manner especially when there is disagreement, minimum/maximum length of posts, etc.); posting procedures (due dates, frequency, and evaluation with detailed rubric on number, frequency, quality of posts); consider – three-sentence minimum rule (sentence 1 = recap/statement of agreement with post; sentence 2 = “I believe that…” “In my opinion…”; sentence 3 = meaningful statement that displays depth in thinking)
  • Advice and ideas about e-portfolios: can contain career objective, resume, sample work, list of achievements/accomplishments, links to repository of papers, pictures, reports, internships, relevant experiences; in addition, require an overall reflection component; don’t wait until the end of the course to review student work – build in times during the course when portfolios are shared and evaluated
  • Advice and ideas for team or group reflective writing tasks:  assign leadership/management roles (e.g., team leader, Web site coordinator, document editor, Web resource researcher, tech leader, etc.); also, provide team contract template or set of guidelines
  • Advice and ideas for small group exam question challenges: this is a learner-centered approach in which students work collaboratively and discuss course content; post one or two example exam questions for teams to discuss and solve; teams provide feedback on other teams’ solutions

Display: visual representations of content highlighted with activities such as virtual tours, timelines, animations, and concept maps (visual learners)
  • Ways for students to represent their learning: timelines, taxonomies, concept maps, flowcharts, Venn diagrams, advance organizers, virtual tours
  • Advice and ideas for anchored instruction with online videos: spur student interest in topic, allowing students to better define problems and to have more flexibility in using their knowledge (in ESL , these types of activities are referred to as “activating schema”); assign students to watch selected videos with guiding questions for reflection/discussion

Do: learners use the content in hands-on activities such as simulation, scenarios, and real-time cases (hands-on/kinesthetic learners)
  • Performance-based/real-world relevance: simulations, games, online cases and scenarios, wikis, real-world data, vodcasts, vblogs, podcasts, galleries, digital stories


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