A Model for Effective Delivery of Online Instruction

A Model for Effective Delivery of Online Instruction

Lynn Romeo (Monmouth University, USA), Mary Brennan (Monmouth University, USA), Terri Rothman Peters (Monmouth University, USA) and Donna Mitchell (Monmouth University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2122-0.ch049

Abstract

Current students who have become digital natives are used to engaging in the use of multiple types of technology and social media. It is extremely important that university faculty in teacher education who teach online courses use research-based practices that increase the achievement of their teacher candidates and model instruction that can be used to engage K-12 students. This chapter discusses an online evaluation tool that was developed to assess students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the online courses and how the results were used to construct a model for best practices in online instruction that engages learners in an asynchronous environment.
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Introduction

Our comprehensive, private higher education institution, which has approximately six thousand undergraduate and graduate students, is located in the northeast section of the United States. Students who attend the university come from a variety of socioeconomic, racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. There are six schools within the university, one of which is the School of Education. Our school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in teacher education and advanced graduate degrees.

The undergraduate students are required by New Jersey state law to earn a dual major in a content area and education. For example, they attend the School of Science, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences to fulfill the content requirements. At the graduate level, in addition to a preservice Master in Education program, there is a Master’s in Education and five advanced degrees: School Counseling, Principal, Reading Specialist, Special Education, and Speech and Language Pathology.

Since our institution is a teaching university, the faculty in the School of Education is recruited with a focus on teaching, scholarship, and service to the school, university, and the greater community. They are comprised of individuals who come from various diverse backgrounds and many have experiences in a variety of settings prior to assuming their faculty positions. In addition, the part-time teaching staff is hired to teach one or two courses that are related to their experience in the field and their specific backgrounds.

Intertwined with good pedagogy is the ability to maintain currency in instructional delivery systems. With this objective in mind, twelve years ago Monmouth University encouraged faculty to develop online courses. The School of Education accepted this challenge and created an online master’s level course in literacy. Currently, there are a total of twenty-four online courses, one undergraduate and twenty-three graduate courses in special education, literacy, educational technology, educational administration, and school counseling.

Although the university conducts student evaluations of on-campus courses, they have not instituted a campus wide evaluation of online courses. In the past, many faculty had received some student feedback during online discussions, but there was no central collection or formal objective analysis. Often students did not respond when asked for comments on instructional strategies because they were concerned about whether there would be an impact on their course grade. Another comment that was raised by the students was that they did not know who would be reading the evaluations. In light of these challenges, faculty in the School of Education undertook the task of designing an online evaluation tool that was distributed and compiled by the authors. The objective was to obtain students’ feedback in a number of areas so that the responses could be analyzed. A tool was constructed using a Likert scale and open-ended questions. In addition, faculty members who teach online were surveyed in a questionnaire format to ascertain additional feedback for analysis.

A study of the literature on the online teacher and the researchers’ analysis of the data that was collected indicated that students need to be provided with engaging, motivating instructional strategies, such as structured, fruitful, collaborative asynchronous discussions that promote critical thinking and reflection (Rovai, 2007). Based on the results and continued dialogue among the researchers, a model for effective online instruction which includes three components emerged. This framework and the steps that led to its development will be outlined and discussed in depth in this chapter. This model has implications for effective development of online courses for 21st century learners.

In analyzing the literature, data, and research findings, the essential questions we developed and addressed included:

  • 1.

    How effective was the instructor in delivering the instructional content of the course in an organized and structured manner?

  • 2.

    What were the dynamics of the student-faculty interaction?

  • 3.

    Did the instructor incorporate a variety of interactive, engaging multi-media tools during the course?

  • 4.

    What should a framework for effective online instruction include?

These essential questions will be addressed and explained in this chapter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Asynchonous Learning: A component of online instruction that does not take place in real time. Students and faculty interact in this online environment. The students lead a lot of their learning and do not meet face to face.

Prezi: A web 2.0 tool designed for developing interactive presentations.

Avatar: In online learning, an icon that represents a faculty member or student. It can be used to engage the students in dialogue and social collaboration.

Voki: A tool that enables anyone to give a voice to an Avatar.

Digital Natives: Children and young adults who have grown up with technological advances (computers, cell phones, and electronic games) and understand how to operate and manipulate them with ease.

Synchonous Learning: Takes place in real time. Students and faculty participate online on specified dates and times.

Glogster: A type of social network that uses interactive posters. The posters can be shared on the Glogster site or on other social networks.

Differentiated Instruction: A teaching theory which promotes positive learning for all students. Teachers provide varied instructional strategies and scaffolding when teaching to meets the diverse needs and interests of their students.

Wiki: A collaborative creation of a group based on an assignment. Each group member signs on and inputs his information which allows his peer group members to view it and make changes to the document.

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