By Teachers, For Teachers
Online learning, or sometimes called eLearning, environments are a standard type of pedagogy in today’s world. Teachers capture the key components of a live classroom and enable students to interact and help one another just as in a traditional classroom. Teachers assign units of study and enhance key information creatively and respectively. There are many challenges of learning in an online environment and many factors to consider when wrapping up a unit of study. Knowing the end goals and the information students need to retain are the most important factors.
It is essential to provide student-centered learning and active learning opportunities in an online classroom environment. It is vital to be precise on what skills need to be taught and what the goals are for completion of the unit of study. There are several areas that allow a unit to come together, and these include significance and efficacy. In my career of being a student and a teacher, the most important purpose in teaching units of study is to provide meaningful information. This requires creativity, and now is the perfect time to glean ideas in this area.
Simply assigning and completing assignments is not an effective practice in wrapping up online learning environments. Just as in any traditional classroom, it is imperative to include a variety of activities and opportunities for students to feel connected and that provide assurance of course and skill mastery. For example, in an elementary or secondary school class, students must be engaged and attain relevance to what they are learning.
Tying up loose ends and consolidating information requires a synopsis of skills acquired and capturing the essence of the most important points students need to retain. Throughout the course, students must feel empowered to want to learn and create discussions that allow them to actively participate.
Students demonstrate understanding and mastery in a myriad of ways in an online learning environment. One of the key ways to ensure student learning content mastery is creating opportunities for students to apply the skills in integrated ways. Examples of these include: projects, case studies or scenarios, creating opportunities for debate, sharing, games, and incorporating challenges. Another example of how students can demonstrate content mastery is providing small group tasks and individualized learning outcomes.
I have been teaching in a traditional and online learning environment for many years, and students need to be active in the learning process and feel supported. Active engagement in an online learning environment includes activities such as: group tasks, video/audio opportunities, forums, and creating resources that they can utilize. To come away with a fundamental understanding of the subject matter, combining the components of active learning with engaging opportunities allows students to retain effective skills. The online experience is well-designed and supported from the beginning, and understanding is an effective result of this design. They will master the content as they are participating in each assignment and recreating opportunities throughout the course.
Assessment in an online learning environment needs to be strategic to the group you are teaching. Explicit details should be stated in the course objectives and include a rubric of the expectations. Progress monitoring through regular formative assessments and individualized feedback is effective in online assessment.
Examples of online assessment of student learning should include formative assessments throughout the length of the course. Short quizzes, oral and video presentations, skill demonstrations and applications are also effective assessment measures to check for students’ understanding. Timely feedback and requiring quick and reflective answers from students are also effective methods in assessing students’ content mastery.
Online learning environments need to be closely monitored, and informal assessment checks such as checking in often on students’ progress, direct messaging, and monitoring time spent online are vital to assessing students’ advancement.
Online learning environments require strategic design in completing and assessing of study. In summary, active engagement, quick and frequent formative assessment, and student-led learning outcomes are among the most vital components included in online learning. Wrapping up the unit successfully is vital to students’ content mastery.
Selena is a second grade teacher and holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis.