Topic 4. Design for online and blended learning
This topic has given me new insights about the different approaches, strategies and resources concerning the designing of online and blended courses. Several of these approaches have common principles such as: definition of the students/learners, clear objective, structured content and evaluation of the course as well as the need of online socialization and careful election of the digital platforms. However, an approach that I found more appropriate, because I’m working on education programs for professional or clinicians in health care, is the 5 stage design model described by Salmon G. (2013) .
- Access and motivation, the moderator’s role is to ensure that learners are able to use the relevant technologies, are enrolled as group members, and feel welcomed on arrival.
- Online socialization, learners engages in non-threatening message sending, greeting others, telling something about themselves, and getting to know people. Salmon suggests that the moderator should help students become familiar with the excepted norms and behaviors, offering bridges between this and prior experience in online and offline communities.
- Information exchange, learners begin to share ideas and knowledge with one another. The moderator now acts as a facilitator, establishing tasks and sharing learning materials and processes.
- Knowledge construction, learners begin to engage in meaningful dialogue, exploring challenging ideas. The moderator facilitates this process by probing questions, complex ideas, and summarizing.
- Development, learners take responsibility for their own learning, analyzing not just ideas, but the process itself, taking the learning beyond the moderator’s prescribed limits. When this occurs, the moderator becomes an almost equal participant, supporting the independence of the learners and dealing with problems as they arise. The model seems to fit well with our experience of online groups up to this point.
Another approach suggested by Battles JB. (2006)  was the application of Instructional system design (ISD) using the ADDIE approach (analysis, development, design, implementation, and evaluation) for e-learning environments in health professions education. The author described how the ADDIE approach to ISD can be applied to patient safety. In my opinion the ADDIE approach is also appropriate to use in advanced health care education, but it is necessary to take into account the students’ age, experience of digital platforms and competence in their clinical area. If the students belong to the “digital generation” which is also called the “Z generation” (http://generationz.com.au/characteristics) the need of introduction to digital platforms is not necessary. Siragusa L., et al., (2007)  suggested a model containing 24 sets of recommendations in order to accommodate the varying pedagogical needs among learners as well as mode of course delivery. The 24 sets are grouped within nine main sections in order to optimize their pedagogical quality. See article: (http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/singapore07/procs/siragusa.pdf)
An important factor for a successful online course is the knowledge of online tools, platforms and practical sources. On a website section “Tips and Tools” (http://teachonline.ca/tips-tools) created by Contact North to serve faculty and instructors of post-secondary institutions, The Ontario Online Learning Portal, I found practical resources for course designers, numerous tools and information on the latest research and trends in online education.
- Salmon, G., (2013). The Five Stage Model. Retrieved 2016 November 8 from http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html
- Battles JB. (2006). Improving patient safety by instructional systems design. BMJ Quality and Safety Health Care. Dec; 15 Suppl. 1:i25-9. PMID: 17142604 PMCID: DOI: 10.1136/qshc.2005.015917.
- Siragusa L., Dixon K. C. and Dixon R. (2007). Designing quality e-learning environments in higher education. Faculty of Education, Language Studies and Social Work Curtin University of Technology.