York’s Faculty of Education recently hosted an elearning Showcase to demonstrate and discuss the work that faculty members and students are doing in some of their blended and online courses.
Sue Vail, associate vice-president teaching and learning, welcomed guests to the event and spoke about how the University is pushing the boundaries of teaching through innovative delivery methods and unique learning settings. Dean Ron Owston provided guests with an overview of the showcase, which featured faculty and student perspectives on 4 courses that were funded by either the Faculty of Education Online Learning Fund, York University AIF, or the Ontario Online Initiative.
The courses featured were EDUC 2400.03 Education as Communication; EDUC 3400.03 Models of Education; EDUC 3300.03 Aspects of Foundations of Education; ED/SCIE3051 Teaching Science in the Intermediate Senior Division; and, GS/EDUC 5860.03 Issues in Digital Technology in Education.
“We want to provide our students with flexibility and a variety of different learning options and possibilities”, said Owston. “Our innovative blended and online courses integrate learning in the classroom, course-wide discussion forums and reflective personal learning. This event provided a unique opportunity to learn about some of the innovative pedagogical work that faculty are doing and to hear student perspectives on these courses”.
Professor Sue Winton who teaches Education as Communication, spoke about the process of developing the course in a blended format. “I hired a designer to develop and set-up the course”, she said. “We had a number of meetings to discuss not only my expectations, but the needs of my students. The course was divided into modules. The designer created individual storyboards for each of the modules so that we could go through them step-by-step to ensure that the content was inline with the learning objectives for the course.” Other faculty members who presented spoke about the importance of incorporating the use of new media and social media into their courses to engage students who could use these mediums for discussion forums and for assignments.
Sonya Sahar, a TA for the Models of Education and Aspects of Foundations of Education courses, spoke about the use of online group forums and discussions in her courses, which she felt opened students to new perspectives and multiple interpretations.
A common theme among many of the students who shared perspectives was the convenience and flexibility of the courses. They were pleased with the ease of accessibility to course materials and resources online and their ability to review lectures, discussions, explanations, and comments when needed. Individuals spoke about being able to share notes with each other to help facilitate community learning. Overall they were very satisfied with their online experience, and viewed it as an opportunity to enhance their learning.
“Technology Enhanced Learning is an institutional priority for the University that was outlined in the University’s Academic Plan (2010-2015) and the Provostial White Paper (2010)”, said Owston. “These courses are an example of the innovative pedagogical work that our faculty are doing and provide solid examples of instructional approaches that can be used across all of our program areas.”