Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Designing Online Learning Modules in Kinesiology

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Designing Online Learning Modules in Kinesiology

Article excerpt

Introduction

Advances in computer technology and software have opened a new age of classroom instruction. Student learners now have the opportunity to take courses that are either fully online or have a blended traditional/online, hybrid learning experience. These learning environments carry over well to corporations and professional employees. The findings of research studies have supported the notion that the key to successful online learning is the formation of an effective learning community as the vehicle through which knowledge is transmitted (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). The traditional focal points of an online learning community are: selecting the learning environment best suited for the purpose of subject material, the role of the instructor, and the role of the student. The current focus of health education research is to examine how the utilization of instructional technology can be used to effectively and efficiently achieve the demonstration of key learning objectives (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).

When online learning experiences are properly structured, they can significantly enhance a student's ability to learn and retain information related to complex topics found in the health sciences (Gallagher et al., 2005; Herse & Lee, 2005; McFarlin, 2008; McFarlin & Jackson, 2008). Learning games play a key role in the design of effective online learning solutions (Gallagher et al., 2005). Such games or interactive learning activities allow the learner to selftest their knowledge base. The key to successful use of online learning is to follow a set of established best practices. Best practice approaches can be simple or complex depending on the educational objectives the instructor or course designer is trying to achieve. We have previously published reports regarding the effectiveness of our approach (McFarlin, 2008). In this model (McFarlin, 2008), students who took a hybrid course earned higher letter grades than students in a traditional lecture based course.

One major advantage of online learning is that it has redefined the role of the health educator such that they are a facilitator at the center of an active learning environment rather than the instructor of the content (Junco, 2007). Some authors have suggested that this new focus provides evidence that the traditional authoritative relationship between the educator and student needs to be reexamined (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). In fact many health educators have embraced the strengths of student directed active learning environment and blended these with traditional health education models (Goldberg et al., 2006).

The key purpose of this manuscript is to describe the approach we developed for the design and implementation of online learning modules in undergraduate kinesiology courses. We have previously demonstrated that our learning module design approach is associated with an improvement in student grades (McFarlin, 2008) and can serve as the foundation of an anti-obesity program targeting college students (McFarlin & Jackson, 2008).

Program Approach

Student Population

Today's students are part of the net generation, born after the invention of the first computer. The key characteristics of net generation students are: that they are driven by commitment, social and team-oriented, experiential, and multitask learners (Junco & Mastrodicasa, 2007). Net generation students want to reach and draw their own conclusions through exploration. In addition, these students have developed a cognitive processing style due to their learning process through the use of familiar technology (Junco & Mastrodicasa, 2007). As such, traditional lecture courses do not always engage these students at the highest level. Redefining this role of the teacher does not imply a reduction in student-faculty contact hours. Instead, a use of technology through an online learning environment relieves the instructor from being primarily responsible for delivering core content and enables them to use the physical classroom for engaging students in higher level seminar-style discussions. …

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