522: A Quality Learning Experience

June 9, 2011 Justin Miscellaneous

Halfway through my first semester of the EDTECH program at Boise State, I realized that I was going to have a high-quality online learning experience, because online teaching is a chunk of what the program is about. The professors practice what they preach. The two ingredients for me that have made the program a success so far are the engagement and the project-based learning.

My first memories of online courses date back to about 2001, when my undergraduate school was first implementing online learning. It was a prime example of what not to do: no collaboration, faulty assessment tools, and no interaction with the teacher. There were few, if any opportunities to interact with the other students online. The assessments were basically just the same quizzes used in the brick-and-mortar version of the class, but with a time limit slapped on and the ability to “cheat” by reading your textbook. And the teacher was unavailable, and wouldn’t respond to emails for three or four days at a time.

Contrast that with the highly constructivist, collaborative, project-based learning model Boise State’s EDTECH program has adopted in its classes. It is an engaging experience. I’m finding that I’m learning and retaining more knowledge than I have before. The collaboration is invaluable as I develop and refine my projects, not to mention the enjoyment that comes from sharing one’s hard work with peers. Being able to create projects that I can directly use in my own line of work is motivation to finish them and do my best. For me, at least, I consider that an indication of this instructional model’s efficacy.

In our school district’s summer technology conference, all learning follows a similar hands-on learning model. Participants are expected to create content, rather than simply learn about it. There is still an approach where the instructor is more a lecturer than a facilitator, but every participant sits at a computer, learns about the technology tools, and constructively uses them during the instruction.

 

constructivism, Distance Learning, E-learning, edtech522, education,

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