If you’re looking for a 100% guaranteed face-to-face learning opportunity in 2022, you’re probably out of luck.
For many of us, the question of whether we are switching to eLearning delivery has now become one of the ways to create better eLearning that creates impact and is sustainable?
Our understanding has grown to respect that online learning creates a different experience for our learners. But for this learning experience to create authentic deep learning, we must continue to build on the fundamental principles of adult learning and pedagogy that we have used for many years in other delivery methods such as as face-to-face learning and blended learning.
We also realized that online learning is not just about technology and shouldn’t be and that developing the teacher-student connection is more important than ever.
“The sparkling newness of new technology can easily lead to an unqualified acceptance that it must in some way be superior to what teachers have done in the past.” (Baxter, Callaghan and McAvery, 2018: 264)
Technology helps us connect with our learners. Of course, we need to be proficient in using technology, but when it dictates how we teach and interact with our learners, we essentially lose track.
On the other hand, while we can oppose technological determinism, we must also recognize the central role that technology now plays in our daily lives. Our learners also need to understand how to function in a digital world.
Given all of this, how can we create an online learning environment that facilitates deep learning and engages our learners to transform their thinking and develop the key skills to enable them to grow?
In the Public Sector Management Program (PSMP), we have adopted four guiding principles as we developed our current blended learning program which is a mix of e-learning and face-to-face workshops and now a fully online version of the program.
Provide access to learners
In an enhanced version of the blended learning offering and now in the fully online version of the PSMP, we have taken a learner-centric design approach, ensuring that the online site is easy and intuitive to navigate. We also provide scaffolding and direct guidance for learners to easily access and use their learning resources and to prepare for their face-to-face or virtual sessions.
Offering a fully online version of the PSMP allows us to reach a wider learning community of geographically dispersed learners in rural and outlying areas who may have struggled to access the program in the past. Participants from all states and remote areas can now easily study the PSMP.
Create interactive learning
Interactivity is at the heart and soul of effective online learning (Pelz, 2010). In the PSMP, we have enhanced the ability for learners to interact with each other and their facilitator by focusing on three aspects of presence (Pelz, 2010):
- A social presence where learners and the facilitator create a learning community by projecting themselves into discussions guided by the facilitator and the student.
- A cognitive presence where learners and the facilitator construct and confirm meaning through case studies, relevant frameworks, using interactive software and having student-led discussions.
- A teaching presence where the facilitator directs the cognitive and social presence for the achievement of personally meaningful learning outcomes for learners.
As Brinthaupt et al (2011) point out, fostering learner engagement means creating a community of learners, fostering interaction between facilitator and learners and among learners themselves, and creating learning resources that encourage reflective thinking, collaborative learning and knowledge building.
In the PSMP, learners are encouraged to participate in online reflective activities to question their own learning. In the fully online version of the program, learners collaborate in student-led action learning groups (ALGs) to apply their learning to their work situation and prepare for discussion with their facilitator during their weekly virtual sessions that are highly interactive with case discussions and students. .
Support learner connectivity
Student response, captured by the Higher Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) 2020 survey, of their fully online learning experience highlighted that they felt a sense of isolation and that they had problems with anxiety and motivation.
Helping learners connect with each other and their facilitator has been enhanced in the fully online version of PSMP through the use of Teams for student collaboration and interaction.
Online relationship building is essential in the PSMP to improve learner well-being and support networking.
A space for facilitators and learners to “check in” has been created in the weekly virtual sessions and the facilitators are very keen to support learners.
A special feature of the online version of the PSMP is that there will be participants from every state in the cohort, providing a rich networking opportunity that has always been a key benefit of the PSMP where participants from different levels of government and of agencies come together. to learn.
Maintain real-world learning
QUT, which delivers the PSMP, is well recognized for its focus on real-world learning. The online version of the PSMP is no different and will maintain this focus which is currently very strong in the blended learning delivery of the program.
Real-world learning is supported by real-world case studies, guest speakers from the public sector, and assessments that challenge our learners to apply their learning directly to workplace challenges. Of particular note is the final capstone project where learners engage with a workplace sponsor to undertake a workplace project on a strategic initiative for their department or agency.
Online learning is here to stay, pandemic or not.
What our experiences have taught us so far is the importance of engaging in an ongoing conversation about how we can continue to create successful online learning for our learners. The pace and scale of change in digital technology is rapid, constant and uniquely complex. Our challenge, therefore, is to use all the resources at our disposal to create impactful e-learning and improve the skills of our facilitators and learners to get the most out of their experience. online learning experience.
While the shift to online learning is challenging, it allows us both as educational institutions and the public sector to provide equal access to learning in our communities so that everyone has the opportunity to educate and develop personally.
The Public Sector Management Program (PSMP) is a dynamic, nationally recognized study option offered by QUT, aimed specifically at mid-level managers in the Australian public service and non-governmental organisations. Learn more here.
Baxter, J; Callaghan, G and McAvoy, J (Ed) (2018) Creativity and critique in online learning Exploring and examining innovations in online pedagogy. Palgrave Macmillan.
Brinthaupt, TM; Fisher, LS; Gardner, JG Raffo, D. M and Woodard, J. B (2011, December) What the best online teachers should do. MERLOT Journal of online learning and teaching. 7:4:515-524.
Pelz, B () (2010, March) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. 14:1:103-116.