Understanding Effective Online Educational Technology Courses: A Look at Research and Practice
Track: Developing Online Courses
This presentation describes the underlying theoretical foundations and unique instructional design approach used to develop an online graduate level certificate program in educational technology. Three online courses were created with a focus on the pedagogy of online instruction to promote effective learning experiences. Using a formative design experiment model, we describe the development of courses, our pedagogy for online teaching, and the impact of courses on student learning. Research results will be discussed to highlight the influence of course design on participants’ knowledge, skills, and disposition towards technology integration in various educational environments. Instructors’ experiences will also be shared.
Learning & Teaching
Dr. Boling is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. Recently the Verizon Foundation awarded Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education a $150,000 grant to help equip teachers with the tools and skills needed to prepare students for success in today’s digital society. The grant supports a certificate program called Educational Leaders of the 21st Century. It consists of three online courses that enable educators to establish a foundation for using technology in a variety of educational settings. Dr. Boling is overseeing the development, implementation and evaluation of this program.
Dr. Boling’s current research also investigates the impact of technology on teaching and learning and how the integration of technology can challenge the fundamental beliefs that educators hold about education. Previous research projects include Teachers & Technology: New Visions of Literacy Education. This project investigated practicing teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions towards the integration of technology into classroom instruction. It also explored the ways in which high school teachers’ uses of technology both supported and hindered student learning. Another study, Disciplined Based Literacy in Urban High Schools, was a multi-year project that involved the development, implementation, and evaluation of a teacher professional development program that was designed to increase the reading achievement of marginalized, adolescent readers. Dr. Boling’s research has been reported in highly regarded, peer-reviewed journals such as Teachers College Record, English Education, Research in the Teaching of English, and Teaching and Teacher Education.
A doctoral student at the GSE, Rutgers University, Chesta Khurana has earned three masters degrees in Elementary Education, English and Philosophy of Education. She has worked on teacher development and learner needs in both conventional schools and visionary organizations for over three years. Her research interests include community building in online programs and student interaction in web based courses.
Mary Hough is a doctoral candidate in the EdD program in Literacy Education at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. She has been teaching in Career and Technical Education for the past 12 years and is interested in research on 21st-century skills, multiliteracies, and online learning.
This presentation will discuss the underlying theoretical principles behind the design and development of three graduate-level teacher education courses. We will illustrate how course curriculum and class assignments were informed by research and theory. Additionally, we will highlight key issues and success stories based on the analysis of data that include surveys, blog entries, discussion threads, interviews and course artifacts.
Description of activity, project, or solution:
This project began almost two years ago when Rutgers Graduate School of Education was awarded a grant from the Verizon Foundation to create and implement an online “Educational Leaders of the 21st Century” certificate program in Educational Technology. A series of three online courses are being designed to assist educators in acquiring the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are needed to effectively integrate technology and 21st Century skills into k-12 and other classroom environments. In order to inform the development of these courses and how to design effective online learning environments, we are conducting multiple research studies on this project. Course development and implementation are informed by research and theory as we use a design experiment research model throughout program development. Through our research, we are learning about the pedagogy of effective online learning instruction and the impact of our course design on teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions toward the use of technology in educational environments.
Through this project, we are learning which aspects of our online courses are having the greatest impact on teacher learning. Through the analysis of course data and interviews, we are able to report on aspects of our course design that support the development of effective, online learning communities. Some of these findings are related to activities and interactions that offer students a “human touch” when learning online. Through this project, we are also learning about some of the challenges that instructors face while teaching online and trying to meet the needs of a diverse student body.
Importance or relevance to other institutions:
Recently there has been an explosive growth in online learning that is “rapidly transforming post-secondary education” (Moller et al., 2008, p. 66). A growing number of distance education initiatives are in the field of education and rely on the Web “as a primary medium for delivery” (Dickey, 2008, p. 507). As universities expand offerings of online courses, however, they are finding that one of their greatest challenges is how to design and implement courses that “provide a sense of community with constructive feedback and provide open forthcoming communications as well as recognizing membership and feelings of friendship, cohesion, and satisfaction among learners” (Desai et al., 2009, p. 333). Citing the work of Daviault and Coelho (2008), Dickey (2008) argued that all too often, “Web-based instruction is reduced to uninspiring content presented in a linear text-based format” (p. 506). Research studies indicate that teaching online requires a different pedagogy and a unique set of skills from that of traditional classrooms (Fetherston, 2001; Hardy & Bower, 2004). The project is relevant to the NJEdge audience because it will inform them of the development and implementation of effective online learning environments and the pedagogies that were used to support the learning of preservice and practicing teachers. Our project helps educators better understand the various ways that Web 2.0 tools can be used to support online communication and collaboration in online courses. In addition, it helps illustrate how online course content and activities influenced students’ knowledge and understandings of technology integration in a variety of educational settings.