For my reflection, I will discuss my role in teaching an online credit certificate course, The Role of the Educational Assistant, for Red Deer Polytechnic last spring. All courses in our Educational Assistant program are available in multiple formats for students, such as on-campus, online, or the students can choose a blended version by accessing a mixture of these courses.
I would consider the course I taught to be a hybrid learning environment based on the definition in chapter 9, where ‘ online learning is combined with focused small group face-to-face interactions (Bates, 2003, p. 311) as the students were to attend a live class once a week and participate in small group discussions.
This was my first online teaching experience at the college. My only other experience teaching online was connected with the lockdown from Covid-19 in 2020. My teaching style gravitates to the constructivist approach, where the instructor develops a learning environment so that the “students can grow and develop their learning (Bates,2003, p. 417), and as such, I was nervous about how interactive and rich this type of environment could be since I was inheriting a course that another instructor already constructed. Since the college offers the same courses on campus and online, there is a need to align content to ensure both objectives are being met at the same academic level. Consequently, there is much collaboration between the two instructors to develop assessments and activities that can be completed in either learning environment.
Since the course was closely aligned with on-campus learning, there was a great deal of thought put into all the lessons, assignments, assessments, and activities to ensure a high degree of interactive learning available in the online environment. I particularly enjoyed that the courses were built intentionally as a flipped classroom where the students were given the materials to review with focus questions before the live classroom. The flipped classroom process allowed our class time to focus on diving deeper into the content, building richer conversations, and extending activities to enrich understanding.
The students in attendance varied from people working in schools during the day, international students who had just arrived in Canada, to people who lived in remote areas of Alberta. All the students in attendance required flexibility in their learning to achieve their certificate due to their unique personal situations. The course was set up for one two-hour live class per week, which was also recorded in case they could not attend. The system created was a good match for student needs.
As an instructor, I can access technology tools like wifi, computers, headphones, cameras, microphones, Blackboard Collaborate, and Google. All of these resources allowed me a wide range of options for delivery methods and a variety of ways to enhance my online live lessons. However, our students are tasked with providing technology to access the course and assignments. At times, connectivity was an issue with students, inhibiting their ability to complete assignments or participate fully in discussions.
Bates, A. and Poole, G. (2003) Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success San Francisco: Jossey-Bass