In this, the final Post for OTL101 we are asked to reflect on the material presented in the Lessons presented by reviewing previous submissions. Once reviewed we are to highlight important concepts, formalize questions that arise and, based on these questions, provide SMART strategies to answer these questions, along with our goals for doing so.
In reviewing my posts I can’t say that any stand out on their own. Collectively, the posts are suggestive that student learning can be optimized when course material, student activities and assessments are aligned with clearly stated learning outcomes and student-dependant feedback is provided by a facilitator (ie an OLFM). Giving feedback, a subset of the student teacher interactions, aids students in developing their cognitive processes, whether the assignments are based on students developing their abilities to learn on the low- to high-level cognitive learning spectrum.
Somewhat related to the above is that, when considering individual student success, no specific aspects of learning are necessarily the most important. Some students require more and different feedback than other students. Other students benefit more from clearly defined learning outcomes. Even other students need both. I don’t sense that one can describe a “one size fits all” general formula for optimizing student learning. Thus, I’d say the most important aspect is that the facilitator most take time to know each student so that they can begin to understand how to facilitate their learning. That being said, the topics presented in Lessons 2-4 of OTL101, covering Cognitive Learning, Learning Outcomes, and Feedback are all parts of the equation.
Reflecting on the course material brought two questions to mind.
First, can students optimize their learning in courses, such as those offered by TRU-OL, where the OLFM’s overseeing the courses have little or no control over the contents (learning outcomes, material, assessments, etc) of the courses? The answer to this question could only be answered by comparing student outcomes in OLFM-controlled versus OLFM-uncontrolled courses.
Second, do students learn according to the highly classified processes of cognition, learning outcomes and feedback, or are these processes actually less structured than presented in OTL101? Conducting more extensive studies such as that presented in “Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education” by Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, and Walter Archer could help answer this question. Data that doesn’t fit within that predicted by Garrison et al would suggest that their highly structured/defined cognitive learning process may not hold.
I have developed two personal goals after reflecting upon the information presented in OTL101. In order to help students reach their full potential I will strive to help them improve how they approach learning and improve the feedback I give students. Of course, these goals are related, as the specific goal of improving the feedback give students, will help students enhance their cognitive processes. As a strategy for moving forward on these goals I will tailor my feedback with the concepts presented in Lesson 3 in mind. Afterwards, I’ll correlate student success with my feedback. IF OLFM’s were given control over online courses, a similar goal would be to review the learning outcomes, material and assessments in the courses I’m involved in and ensure that they are appropriate and aligned with one another. Changes in student performance would be used as an indication of whether any changes made were of value.