Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Designing and Delivering an Online Course for K-12 Educators

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Designing and Delivering an Online Course for K-12 Educators

Article excerpt

The design and delivery of a distance education course are complex undertakings. This is partly because the development process involves many interrelated elements that must work in unison to form a single system for learning. Each of the elements is critical to the success of the distance education course and the learning experience that the student receives.

MGT651: Internet Applications in Science Education is part of a new graduate level certificate program titled Technology Applications in Science Education (TASE) that Stevens Institute of Technology has launched on its e-learning site, WebCampus. The decision to develop this program as a distance education initiative was based on the perceived need for robust graduate-level professional development opportunities for practicing K-12 educators who could not attend traditional face-to-face courses.

Internet Applications in Science Education was designed to provide middle and high school teachers with an understanding of how the Internet can be used to enrich science education. The course was taught by faculty at Stevens Institute of Technology's Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), which over the past six years has directed a range of state and federally funded teacher professional development programs on the use of the Internet in education.

The content for the course was based on the past experiences of CIESE, and focuses on what it has defined as "unique and compelling" Internet applications in science education. These applications tap into the potential power that the Internet holds as a tool to enhance science education. They include use of real time data from remote locations around the world, as well as global telecollaborative projects that engage students and their peers in electronic investigations of scientific issues and phenomena. The course also covers techniques on how to manage the implementation of these projects through the development of Project Management Plans (PMPs), another CIESE-developed concept. Additionally, the course touches on more traditional Internet-in-education topics, such as strategies for conducting online scientific research.

Course Design Considerations

Internet Applications in Science Education required that students develop both a theoretical and a practical understanding of the Internet as a tool for enriching science education. This would necessitate a diverse set of teaching and learning strategies that went well beyond the typical "talking head" lecture that is often central to the instructional process of a face-to-face course. It was decided that the strategies had to expose students to the same real-world challenges they would face when they began to use the technology in their own classrooms. To meet this difficult challenge, the following strategies were employed:

* Peer-to-Peer Collaboration: Students were encouraged to interact on a regular basis with each other on the topics that were discussed in the course.

* Instructor Feedback: Much time was spent supplying instructor feedback to both individual students and the class in general.

* Grader Feedback: Along with the instructor's feedback on content issues, detailed critiques of each assignment were supplied by a course grader.

* Student-Centered Learning: Because of the range of student abilities and experiences, the lectures were designed to support advanced, intermediate and novice users.

* Authentic Learning: Students were immersed in realistic situations in which they had to apply what they had learned to solve real-world problems and deal with authentic classroom situations.

* Critical Thinking: Students were challenged to form their own opinions concerning a range of topics that pertained to the use of the Internet in science education.

* Project Based Learning: Students developed a management plan to implement an Internet-based project in their own classrooms. …

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