May 21, 2020
After the semester ended, I made a list of some of the teaching practices that worked in the teaching of second-semester intermediate Spanish. My critical reflection on this experience has been aided by scholarly studies on distance education. I learned that in the field of Distance Education (DE), “interaction” has multiple meanings and functions. Michael G. Moore identifies three types of interaction: student-instructor, student-content, and student-student.
An effective DE learning environment is characterized by a diversity of interactions.
A DE course that relies on only one type of interaction (or medium) is not conducive to a productive learning environment. (The main weakness of many distance education programs is their commitment to only one type of medium.” Moore, 1989)
Building on the previous point, I learned that course design can benefit greatly by well-built student-content interactions whose role is to “provide a foundation for informed learner-learner and learner-instructor interactions.” (Morrison and Anglin, 2010)
I learned that teaching effectiveness in the DE setting involves the strategic use of knowledge tools (PlayPosit, Voice Thread, etc.) in conjunction with instructional instructional design. In other words, the knowledge tools we use and how we use them must play a specific pedagogical role in the course design. The use of the knowledge tool must be informed by a clearly defined learning objective, which should be clear to the instructor and the students.
Lastly, in thinking about how to approach instructional design as we move forward, I think it’s important to bear in mind the following: “While it is possible to convert a traditional classroom course for use on the web, careful consideration must be given to the design of instruction for delivery in a different environment” (Morrison and Anglin 2010, 245). The key seems to be instructional design.
Although none of us set out be DE instructors, learning to adapt and thrive in that medium in response to our present predicament may help us critically examine our teaching practices in ways that will refine our teaching effectiveness and better respond to the needs of 21st-century learners when we return to traditional classroom teaching.