Advantages and Challenges of Teaching in an Electronic Environment: The Accommodate Model

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND

The explosion of technology as a tool for teaching and learning has provided many opportunities for educators to participate in web-enhanced and web-based electronic classrooms. Further, distributed learning has provided learners with multiple access to course material in postsecondary education. While effective teaching strategies transfer to an electronic environment, there may be additional considerations when managing or designing an online or enhanced course. During the Spring 2001 semester, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, began the process of redesigning and developing the Certificate in Postsecondary Teaching program to be available in various modes of delivery: traditional classroom based with web-enhancement, two-way video conferencing with web-enhancement, and web-based.

The University of Akron College of Education currently offers a Postsecondary Teaching Certificate within its technical education program. Courses offered in this certificate program are identified in Table 1. Based on a needs analysis, these courses were targeted to be offered in three modes of delivery: traditional/web enhanced, two-way videoconference delivery, and web-based.

For the purpose of this study, four of the seven courses within the Postsecondary Teaching Certificate program were identified for analysis. The selection of these four courses was based on the cyclical schedule for delivery, their sequential relationship, and the participation of the subject matter expert. The four courses with descriptions are:

Learning with Technology--This course was designed to introduce the learner to program and course requirements and expectations. The learner will explore the web tools utilized for this and ALL other program courses. This course has been structured around the utilization of an online course management system as a course delivery tool.

Systematic Curriculum Design for Postsecondary Education--This course was designed to introduce the learner to the procedure of breaking down an occupation to determine curriculum for laboratory and classroom, developing the content into an organized sequence of instructional units.

Systematic Instructional Design for Postsecondary Education--This course has been designed to introduce the learners to the necessary information and skills associated with delivering information and instruction at the postsecondary level. Techniques of instruction related to methods, media and performance assessment are covered. In addition, an analysis of the predisposition and skills of postsecondary learners are addressed with emphasis on the current state of affairs and legislative initiatives within our education system.

Practicum/Internship--This course has been designed to serve as a capstone experience for the Technical Education learner--providing teaching/training or curriculum development under the supervision of the university and the learning organization.

PROCESS FOLLOWED

* Reviewed course content for appropriateness for online environment. This led to restructuring and sequencing of course content and related assignments.

* Examined accreditation requirements for web enhanced and web-based courses to ensure compliance.

* Matched assessment strategies to sequenced content.

* Formulated plan for supporting media tools: Streamed video, synced audio with course materials (such as slide shows), and task animation for supporting resources.

* Designed graphic layout to ensure compliance with university "look and feel". This promoted consistency for all web courses in the program and provided uniformity in presentation throughout all courses.

* Developed instructional components for ease of use, maximizing content, and accessibility to learners.

* Videotaped course delivery for use in multimedia development. This included instructor-led facilitation, learner interaction, learner presentations, and visual resources utilized in the classroom. …