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MERLOT II

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Peer Review


Building from Content to Community: [Re]Thinking the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning

by William Deihl , Britt Watwood , Jeffrey Nugent
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Feb 20, 2012 by Teacher Education
Overview: Building from Content to Community: [Re] Thinking the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning offers tips for online instructors to build a community of learners within their classes.
Learning Goals: The goals are to describe and critique recent innovations in online learning. It emphasizes that having access to information is not synonymous with online learning. The article provides research based techniques for creating an online community, to encourage student participation, and to build a social presence.
Target Student Population: The targeted population includes undergraduate and graduate level faculty. Online course developers, instructional specialists, and online faculty administrators may also find the article useful as it includes the weaknesses in online courses and it gives suggestions for improvement.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Some of the third party sites hyperlinked in the article require the user to create an account.
Type of Material: The resource is an open journal article.
Recommended Uses: Individuals can use the article independently. The article can also be used as a part of a training course for online faculty.
Technical Requirements: PDF viewing

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: There were valid models present which had references from credible sources to support them. The scenarios presented as examples were relevant and were significant learing opportunities in which every online faculty member can gain benefit. The content is presented in an easy to understand manner with hyperlinked words for additional information for unfamiliar and technical terms. All of the suggested tools were also hyperlinked to third party sites where they can be accessed.
Concerns: Most of the statistics presented did not have in-text citations. There are several typos in the lengthy (22 pages) white paper. With a copyright date of 2009, some research is outdated.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The paper adequately relates face to face teaching methods that are useful in an online environment, presented in the Seven Principles of Good Teaching from 1987. The gray "scenario" boxes are nicely done and present good ideas that are easily replicable in face to face or online environments. Common problems in online classrooms are presented in the article such as using the same teaching models as traditional classrooms and offers practical activities and ways to revises teaching techniques in order to make them more appropriate for online learners. The expectations of online learners are taken into consideration and the authors demonstrate how to meet them . The authors also suggests ways to compromise on unrealistic demands such as having instant turn around times on assignments. The material can be used to revise existing online courses or to create new ones. Instructors can use the solutions to improve their interactions with students.
Concerns: An executive summary of the paper would be beneficial. Stating the learning objectives in the opening paragraph would be helpful.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The article can easily be used by anyone. The address, telephone, fax are provided for the institute. Email addresses are provided for the authors. There a bright blue headings, interesting photos, and shaded scenario boxes to make the article visually appealing. Shaded tool boxes which also have hyperlinks for each of the tools mentioned in the article.
Concerns: There are some additional software requirements which need to be obtained and more training may be needed to use them.Users can get trapped on third party sites when the hyper links are clicked. Pressing the back browser button takes the user back to the beginning of the article. The site is not interactive.