Online learning has been trending for some time, growing rapidly and bringing with it a new era of teaching and learning (Capra, 2011). Institutions like Westford University College has taken full advantage of this development. For example, the Post Graduate Diploma in Supply Chain management along with many other programmes are now offered online, attracting students, both in the UAE and abroad. The online content has been able to attract students in every territory and continent with much more potential for growth. For example, Nigeria, with a 160 million populace, targeting117 universities (Guardian, 2012) and 1 million youths seeking limited access to universities (Odunayo, 2013) an online based MBA for Nigeria nationals is quite appropriate to be explored.
Online education has triggered some changes in the way we teach though (TeachOnline.ca, 2018). Having conducted several online sessions myself, I have found that in order to be successful at it, similar to onsite models, you must engage the student. The technology allows students to collaborate and engage each other( verbally and written format), for example on supply chain and operations issues they face and how these issues can be discussed in the context of the Learning outcomes and performance criteria designed. The student interaction is done on our Electa platform and is as vibrant as our onsite sessions. This brings out the cooperative model in learning where peer to peer engagement is encouraged to facilitate shared knowledge (Schell and Janicki, 2012). Students can now interact, similar to that of a WhatsApp group chat and even video call. Constructivism, like in our onsite sessions, is also reflected here, a model that is also student-centred and one that has promoted collaboration and communication among participants (Gold, 2001). This is what technology facilitates. Such a learning environment also bring about a wider range of real-world examples due to the geographical reach of online platforms. But these experiences depend heavily on the school’s philosophy. Active learning being at the cornerstone of our university college, we encourage online trainers to teach as if they are conducting an onsite session. This approach is what brings out the best results, mimicking the successes of the onsite classroom.
While some might dispute that behaviourist approaches remain fitting, at least for learners new to the subject area (Moallem, 2001), Anderson (2008) argues that in online teaching, the behaviourists model remains relevant for those type of students. Simply put, the behaviourist model is likely to address what facts ( for e.g. ‘ what is supply chain management’) while constructivism will address the why issues ( to promote high-level thinking). The detailed scope in the trainer’s delivery doesn’t always fit well with the online delivery and theories presented though, as I have discovered that encouraging online discussions and teaching a wide range of concepts has to be done in shorter time as compared to the onsite model. This could be quite challenging for educators and requires some skill and experience to balance the use of the two schools of thought in an online setting. One consideration for educators, new to the online form of pedagogy might be to reduce their presentation content and create discussions around videos, photos and case studies. More detailed content can be made available on the portal’s upload feature. This approach can also compensate for time lost due to student login delay and technical issues encountered by the presenter, if at all.
Anderson (2008), The Theory and Practice of Online Learning [Online]. Available at: http://stoa.usp.br/ewout/files/1073/6047/TerryAndersonEntireBook.pdf#page=27 (Accessed: 4th May 2018.
Capra (2011), ‘Online Education: Promise and Problems ‘MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 7, No. 2, June 2011.[Online] Available at: http://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no2/capra_0611.pdf. (Accessed: July 13th 2018).
Gold (2001) A Constructivist Approach to Online Teaching and Learning [Online] Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ833907.pdf. (Accessed 12th May 2018)
Guardian, (2012), ‘The Reality and Challenges of E-Learning Education in Africa: The Nigeria Experience’ International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences (IJHMS) Volume 1, Issue 3 (2013) ISSN 2320-4036; EISSN 2320-4044 [Online] Available at http://www.isaet.org/images/extraimages/P513699.pdf. (Accessed: July 13th 2018).
Moallem, (2001). ‘Applying Constructivist and Objectivist Learning Theories in the Design of A Web-Based Course: Implications for Practice’, Educational Technology & Society 4(3) 2001 ISSN 1436-4522. [Online] Available at:https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mahnaz_Moallem/publication/220374758_Applying_Constructivist_and_Objectivist_Learning_Theories_in_the_Design_of_A_Web-Based_Course_Implications_for_Practice/links/558c062d08ae591c19d9e058.pdf. (Accessed 14th May 2018)
Odunayo, (2013) ‘The Reality and Challenges of E-Learning Education in Africa: The Nigeria Experience’ International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences (IJHMS) Volume 1, Issue 3 (2013) ISSN 2320-4036; EISSN 2320-4044 [Online] Available at http://www.isaet.org/images/extraimages/P513699.pdf. (Accessed: July 13th 2018)
Schell and Janicki, (2012). ‘Online Course Pedagogy and the Constructivist Learning Model’ Journal of the Southern Association for Information Systems, Volume 1, Number 1, 2012 [Online]. Available at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jsais/11880084.0001.104/–online-course-pedagogy-and-the-constructivist-learning-model?rgn=main;view=fulltext (Accessed: 18 June 2018).
TeachOnline.ca (2018)A New Pedagogy is Emerging… and Online Learning is a Key Contributing Factor. [Online] Available at https://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/how-teach-online-student-success/new-pedagogy-emerging-and-online-learning-key-contributing-factor (Accessed: 5th May 2018).
The post was written by:
Mr Paul Gulston