This, for me, is the most relevant topic so far. I was motivated to take ONL202 so I could become a more competent online educator. Although I couldn’t get through the 35-min intro ppt (sorry, but what was the thinking there ?), I did find the other materials much more useful.

Salmon’s 5-stage model gives theoretical structure to the design of effective online or blended courses, although I could’ve used some concrete examples. The most impactful resource was the article by Hodges et al, who compare and contrast mindfully designed online learning (OL) with emergency remote teaching (ERT). It got me thinking about my current situation and I came up with two questions.

The SARS crisis taught NUS valuable lessons, including the need for faculty to be able to quickly move into ERT in case of crisis. Hence, the NUS-wide requirement (going back at least two years) that all courses be e-learning ready. Support for that has included training to use e-learning tools, workshops and asynchronous learning materials offered by the Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning plus a half-day e-learning workshop by my department. But faculty members haven’t all taken advantage of these resources. And maybe we haven’t been given the time and space to design proper OL experiences (Hodges et al assert that it takes six to nine months). Franky, I think I’m still between ERT- and OL-mode (like some of my peers – though some might be still in ERT-mode).

Of course, I want to deliver legit OL experiences. To help us all get there, I wonder if each department could offer deeper training on designing blended / online learning courses. I envision a scenario where we participate in and reflect on a discipline-relevant online course in real time, so we see how it’s done, think about how to apply the methods to our own courses and create a community of inquiry (COI) with our peers.

As for my practice, I’m toying with the idea of replacing my Urban-Ecology final (worth 40 %) next semester with a weekly blog assignment (and just now inquired with my dept to see if that’s still possible). 14 posts, 400 words each, putting the main takeaways from that week’s lesson in context, using the literature and local examples. Something akin to this idea by Pifarré et al. I already have my year-1 students keep environmental blogs, which deliver on key learning outcomes, including creativity, critical-thinking and communication. And by commenting on each other’s blogs, they collaborate. In Urban Ecology, I could have them form mini COIs, to read and critically-assess each other’s work (i.e., peer review) and thus contribute to their participation grade, which is something quieter individuals struggle with.

If anyone has any feedback on either or both suggestions, I’m all ears!