Week 12: Final Course Reflections and Wrap-Up

Overview

The deepest, most enduring knowledge about online teaching and learning requires ongoing reflection. Reflection allows you to become aware of yourself as both a learner and an educator, and can support the transfer of learning from this course to your online teaching and learning practices. Reflective practice is generally understood as the process of learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and/or practice (Jarvis, 1992). Most educators, whether they teach in the traditional classroom, or online, are by nature reflective practitioners, as they strive for improvement in their practice, they challenge and question themselves, and they look for new and improved ways of supporting student success. Research suggests that intentional reflection on the part of educators leads to improvement in one’s teaching practice (Gibbs 1988; Schön, 1987). This unit will provide you with the opportunity to reflect on your experience in this course, and will help you to identify lessons learned about online teaching and learning as well as areas for further professional development.

Learning Outcomes

When you have completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Identify lessons learned about online teaching and learning.
  • Assess areas for further professional development as it relates to online teaching and learning.
  • Reflect on your experience in the course compared with your expectations, and discuss how you can best build on this experience.

Topic 1 – Reflective Practice and Lessons Learned

Introduction

Please read the following article:

As an educator and learner, you can engage in reflective practice in a range of ways, and it is helpful to find a mode of practice that suits your learning best. Gilbert (2016) suggests a number of techniques for applying reflective practice when teaching online which include seeking feedback, considering lessons learned each day, identifying your strengths, being objective, and practicing empathy. She proposes a model for reflective practice based on Gibbs (1988) reflective cycle that includes the following steps:

  • Description —Describe the situation in detail
  • Feelings —Describe your emotions and how they played a part in the situation
  • Evaluation —Consider whether it was a good or bad experience and what you may have learned from the situation
  • Description —Describe what went right and what went wrong
  • Conclusion —Describe what you could have done differently and what you would/should do again if the situation arises.
  • Action Plan —Develop a plan for when the situation arises again, including the things you will do and in what order
  • Description —The process starts again the next time the situation arises

Brookfield (1995) proposes that educators can support their own reflective practice by adopting different perspectives, or lenses. The four critically reflective lenses he suggests are:

  1. Autobiographical —Our personal reflection on, during, or for practice which be documented as a diary, journal, portfolio, images or creative artefacts
  2. Students —Student feedback can be formal (evaluations or surveys) or informal (discussions, short written reflections)
  3. Colleagues or peers —Can be both formal such as peer observation and review, or informal such as discussion or short written reflections
  4. Theory and research —What does the research say about the issue you are reflecting on?

In his seminal work, Schön (1987) identified two types of reflection: reflection-on-action (after-the-event thinking) and reflection-in-action (thinking while doing). Reflection-in-action is the process where the educator recognises a new problem and thinks about it while still acting. For experienced educators, reflection-in-action is often intuitive and they may not even recognize it as reflection. Reflection-on-action happens afterward, and is the retrospective contemplation of practice. It involves remembering the details of an incident, how it happened, the feelings and thoughts that it elicited, and thinking about how the situation might have been handled differently and whether further knowledge might have changed the situation. Both of these practices are essential components of reflective practice (Smith, 2012).

Please watch the following video:

  • Educause. (2013, May 6). 8 lessons learned from teaching online [Video file]. Retrieved from Youtube:educause CC BY 3.0

Learning Activity 1 – Lesson Learned

After watching the video, reflect on your experience in this course, and identify eight of your own lessons that you have learned from completing this course. Please create an artifact (i.e. video, infographic, slide deck, collage, etc.) depicting your lessons learned and post it on your blog with the tag “EDDL5141.” Review your peers’ artifacts and look for commonalities within the lessons learned.

Topic 2 – Ongoing Professional Development

Introduction

Please read the following article:

The field of online teaching and learning continues to evolve and expand, which requires online educators to continue to develop as professionals. As part of your reflective practice, it is important not only to reflect on your teaching, but also to set goals for future professional learning and development. To support your continuing development as an online educator, you can create a personal professional development plan to support continued learning about online teaching and learning after this course. A professional development plan can help you to set out goals, strategies, and outcomes for future learning. Continued learning may include a variety of activities such as formal and informal training, reading of literature, observing colleagues, attending conferences or webinars, engaging in social media, or developing new skills to meet a career goal. Kelly (2011) proposes a helpful format for developing a professional development plan that includes the following:

  • Goals —What are your goals for professional development?
  • Activities —What activities will help you accomplish your goals?
  • Cost —How much are the activities going to cost to help you meet your goals?
  • Anticipated Results —What kind of measureable results can you show that justify your professional development?
  • Actual Results —Did your activities help you to reach your goals?

Learning Activity 2 – Professional Development Plan

Please go back and review the results of the Faculty Self-Assessment Activity that you completed in Unit 2 and identify areas that you would still like to work on, and explore potential activities to support further professional development in these areas. Then, complete a personal professional development plan using Kelly’s (2011) framework as a guide. Please share your professional development plan on your blog with the tag “EDDL5141.”

Topic 3 – Final Reflection

Introduction

Throughout the last several modules you have been provided with an introduction to the theory and practice of online teaching and learning, and have developed the skills and strategies needed to effectively design and facilitate courses in an online environment. You have explored relevant learning theories and instructional design principles, and developed a design plan for an online teaching and learning experience. You also examined a range of online facilitation strategies and educational technology supports, and had the opportunity to facilitate an online lesson for your fellow participants, and have audited an existing online course. This final reflection activity will allow you to reflect on your overall experience in the course.

Learning Activity 3 – Final Reflection

Please write a final reflection that synthesizes your learning in this course, and addresses the following questions:

  • What are the three most meaningful things you have learned during this course?
  • What was the most surprising and/or unexpected thing that you learned through this course?
  • How does what you learned connect with what you already knew?
  • What will you do with what you have learned? How will you apply what you have learned to your teaching and learning practice?

Assessment #1 – Online Course Audit Completion

Please synthesize the information from the course activities regarding the online course that you are auditing and use them to complete your Online Course Audit Assignment.

Summary

Reflective practice involves deliberate and sustained reflection and action for the purpose of improvement. As an online educator, it means reflecting on what you do, why and how you do it, what the effects on your learners are, and identifying and taking action on areas for improvement (Brookfield, 1995). A helpful component of reflective practice is the development of a personal professional development plan, which can be used to guide continued learning beyond this course. As a result of participating in this course, you have gained experience with the online teaching and learning process and should be able to apply the material addressed to your own online teaching and learning practice. As the online environment continues to expand and evolve, it is likely that online teaching and learning will continue to change and that alternative ways of teaching online will emerge. Online educators will also increasingly be provided with the opportunity to work on a more global scale. Overall, it is hoped that the experience that you have gained from this course will allow you to plan successful online teaching and learning experiences in the future!

References

Brookfield, S.D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Educause. (2013, May 6). 8 lessons learned from teaching online [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Bp4BG4Me7TU

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods . Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford

Gilbert. J. (2016). How to apply reflective practice when teaching online . Retrieved from https://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2908240

Jarvis, P. (1992) Reflective practice and nursing. Nurse Education Today, 12 (3), 174-181.

Kelly, V. (2011, August 5). Take control: Planning your professional development. Faculty Focus . Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/faculty-development/take-control-planning-your-professional-development

Schön, D.A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner . San Francisco, CA: Jossey – Bass Higher Education Series.

Smith, N. (2012). Reflective practice in higher education instruction . Retrieved from https://evolllution.com/opinions/reflective-practice-in-higher-education-instruction

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