According to Knupfer effective use of the computer as a resource in education necessitates changes in pedagogy, with the teacher taking the role of "facilitator of information" while guiding the student toward solutions. Berge and Collins have found that computer-mediated communication (CMC) generates improved tools which permit a fuller range of interactive methodologies. In addition, CMC encourages instructors to pay more attention to the instructional design of courses. These factors can improve quality, quantity, and patterns of communication in the skills students practice during learning--a change that requires, in many cases, both teachers and students to learn different roles.
Of the many instructional strategies available for use in the online learning environment, most have not been developed specifically for online instruction, but are currently employed in traditional classrooms, and can be successfully adapted for facilitating online learning. According to Knowles, educators must be able to choose a learning technique that is most effective for accomplishing a particular educational objective. From this perspective, instructional strategies are tools available to educators for designing and facilitate learning . Pitt has identified ten instructional strategies which have been effectively used in the traditional classroom and can likewise be used in the online learning environment. These strategies are:
The online learning environment allows educators and students to exchange ideas and information, work together on projects, around the clock, from anywhere in the world, using multiple communication modes (Hiltz). Given the advantages and resources of this rich learning environment, how can multiple instructional strategies best be utilized for online learning? Just as in the traditional classroom, instructional strategies are most effective when employed specifically to meet particular learning goals and objectives. Effective course design can begin with asking and answering the key question: what are the major learning goals and objectives for this course? Once these goals and objectives have been identified and clearly articulated, the question of which learning strategies, activities, and experiences to employ can be addressed.
Online learning can employ any of the wide variety of strategies discussed here, from email to online data base and archive searching. Much of the power of learning via the Internet lies in its capacity to support multiple modes of communication including any combination of student-to-student, student-to-faculty, faculty-to-student, faculty-to faculty, student-to others, others-to students and so forth (Ellsworth in Berge & Collins). Taking into account the varied learning styles of learners and providing opportunities for self-directed and collaborative learning, educators can facilitate powerful, effective courses geared to achieve specific learning goals and outcomes using the vast resources and capacities of computer-mediated online learning.
The online learning environment is, after all, just another learning environment, in some ways similar to and in some ways different from more traditional environments such as conventional classrooms, seminar rooms, or labs. When we move our class outdoors, if it is convenient and beneficial to do so, we adjust our methods, materials and strategies to fit the natural environment. Likewise, when we move our class onto the Internet, we plan for and make the best use of the online environment. The various instructional strategies we use to meet the goals and objectives of our courses are likely to be similar in each environment. However, the ways in which we utilize the strategies will differ as we make the best use of the characteristics and capacities of each environment.
This text has been adapted from Creating a Powerful Online Course through the Use of Multiple Instructional Strategies