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REDESIGN VERSUS REPLICATION: A CONTEMPORARY DILEMMA FOR ONLINE LEARNING

P.T. Clements, K. Holt, F. Cornelius

Drexel University (UNITED STATES)
A contemporary dilemma emerging in online environments involves ever-increasing requests from students for synchronous activities which replicate the traditional face-to-face classroom. This results in problematic facets when contextualized within the foundational approaches for online pedagogy. The pedagogy of teaching in a face-to-face environment is different than that of online approaches; not all activities used in a face-to-face class are adaptable to an online class. In addition, the value of online flexibility can be lost when students are required to attend live lectures and discussions. It also increases the amount of time and effort for faculty to not only create live lectures but to maintain the asynchronous portions of the course as well. More is not necessarily better; specifically, according to Grandzol & Grandzol (2010) “increased levels of interaction, measured by time spent, actually decrease course completion rates. This result is counter to prevailing curriculum design theory and suggests increased interaction may actually diminish desired program reputation and growth.” Successful faculty will be those providing challenging learning activities in an online environment that enhance understanding of problems within contexts and cultures that are discipline specific while meeting the student need for 'connection'. Clearly, occasional synchronous activities can enhance the value of any course however, it must be purposefully placed. Paced and prudent synchronous activities combined with the inherent flexibility to accommodate learner schedules delivered from a constructivist approach can provide an optimal level of interaction and connection. This presentation will highlight best practices that can be easily replicated to meet students' need for 'connection' while maintaining pedagogic integrity for online learning.