Life by Design

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Posted on: October 26, 2010

When considering best practices for creating a blended learning format,  a trainer should consider several pre-planning strategies to insure success.  Some of the considerations include:  first and foremost, what do the learners need to learn, are the learners ready to embrace an online format, how will the content be divided between a true classroom environment and the online portion, how will assessment be accomplished, and finally what mixtures of web-based technologies should be used?

 

If the objective is to teach better communication skills, there is no better format for this than the threaded discussions offered in many online LMS systems.    If role playing is required, virtual environments like Second Life can allow participants to don their avatars, and act out the issues in a more uninhibited way.

The trainer converting to a blended learning format will have to adjust to the differences between teacher-based learning systems to student-based systems.

For a blended learning format to be successful, the trainees will need to be encouraged to communicate online.  Some interesting options here include:  breaking the group into small groups of 3-4 people and pose challenging real life real work scenarios.  Students can participate in threaded discussions about how to solve the work related issues.  The learners can research the web, locate information, tools, and web media that would be  helpful to solve the issues.   If communication issues are present at work, learners can keep blogs about their experiences, challenges and successes, post their entries and read their co-workers views.  Other incentives to online communication include:   the learner can have the chance to stop, reflect and refine their responses and ultimately move through the online system simulation at their own pace.

 

References

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., and Zvacek (2009)  Teaching and Learning at a Distance:  Foundations of Distance Education.  Pearson. (pp. 233-234).

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