The teacher had a learner-centred, digitally minded approach and implemented effective teaching strategies for orientation, socialisation, the online environment and online learning.
This identifies some effective teaching strategies for online teaching and learning implemented by the teacher, who is called a 'facilitator' to reflect the learner-centred, digitally minded approach, in which the teacher's role is a facilitator of students' learning. In the previous chapter, the findings showed that the facilitator had used a learner-centred, digitally minded approach. Additional strategies used by the facilitator are divided into four categories: strategies for orientation, socialisation, the online environment, and online learning.
- Welcomed students
- Provided a cheery environment
- Provided time for introductory activities
- Provided emotional support
- Provided technical support
- Provided practice with the collaborative tools
- Introduced online protocols and routines
- Archived discussion board message
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- Developed an online community
- Encouraged common practices
- Provided time for introductions
- Provided social areas
- Provided time for students to get to know one another
- Provided personalised group areas
- Visited students in face-to-face meetings
- Provided a personal presence
- Promoted a safe learning environment
- Encouraged student interaction and visibility
- Encouraged students to widen their community
- Encouraged involvement in their schools and local community
- Promoted involvement in international projects
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Strategies for the Online Environment
- Used limited amount of text
- Wrote in clear, succinct formal language
- Used coloured text
- Used friendly, chatty informal language
- Used formatting and punctuation for emphasis
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Strategies for Online Learning
- Motivated students
- Immersed students in new learning
- Provided expectations for time commitment
- Used and promoted questioning
- Helped students to make links
- Provided guided instruction
- Developed students' thinking skills
- Provided resources when needed
- Encouraged students to take responsibility for their own learning
- Gave timely and specific feedback/li>
- Encouraged peer feedback and review
- Provided students with support
- Monitored students learning and other commitments
- Provided models and exemplars
- Provided support for goal setting
- Diagnosed and assessed students skills and ability
- Promoted students to reflect on the process of their learning
- Used students' reflections to advise new students
- Allowed students to design the programmes
- Allowed students to negotiate their programme of learning
- Coached students in leadership roles
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The facilitator implemented strategies to help students in the early orientation stage contributing to effective online teaching and learning. In the literature, facilitators were warned not to underestimate the early stage (Salmon, 2000). In this study, the facilitator engaged and motivated students when they first accessed the online area by welcoming them with an informal chatty message, providing a cheery environment with a colourful banner, coloured text and a moving title, and providing time for introductory activities. The facilitator provided students with technical and emotional support and with specific introductory activities to give students opportunities to practice using online collaborative tools. The facilitator provided students with time to establish specific online protocol and routines, provided a social area in each of the learning areas called cafes and archived the messages in the discussion board regularly.
The strategies that the facilitator implemented in the online environment made for effective teaching and learning. Her messages often began and ended with a friendly, chatty informal style of language with the instructions and explanations in the body of the message written in a clear, succinct formal style of language. She used a limited amount of text, html coding to add coloured text to motivate and engage students, and formatting and punctuation for emphasis.
The facilitator interacted online regularly, making her personal presence visible and setting the tone of the community with her friendly cheerful, informal language. She took a personal interest in the students by asking them questions about their interests and life style. She promoted a safe learning environment by getting the students to share stories and experiences, which helped to develop openness and trust within the community. The facilitator encouraged the students to widen their group of students they worked with to include students from other schools. They were enrolled in clubs, projects or businesses and had access to all of them, so they got to know others indirectly by reading the messages and following the interaction. The facilitator also encouraged students to join ePals and the two new areas, Going Global and the Oman link so they communicated with students from other countries.
Even though the approach was a learner-centred one, it involved the use of online collaborative tools that were somewhat invisible because the focus was not on the technology. Therefore, this approach could then be described as a learner-centred, digitally minded approach, which was evident in the online learning and made for effective teaching and learning in an online learning community.
The facilitator tried to motivate the students by capturing their attention and seeding ideas about future projects, initially immersing them in programmes that had previously been successful. She gave students and schools guidelines and expectations about the time allocation for the programme because the students needed regular access to develop and maintain relationships with other students. She encouraged the use of questions, using them frequently to find out information from the students and to lead students into the next activity. She also asked questions to help students make links between prior knowledge and their new experiences. She provided students with guided instruction often posted in the information areas in Blackboard and promoted reflective, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.
Documents were usually created when students needed extra support on some aspect of their learning. The facilitator provided students with prompt and timely feedback in the discussion board so that all students could read it. She often worked with the first student to complete a task until it reached a suitable standard and then used it as an exemplar. The facilitator encouraged students to take responsibility for their own learning and supported students as they set their own goals. She regularly asked students to give feedback on their progress and what they intend to do next. The facilitator used the introductory activities to observe and informally assess students' online skills, attitude and interaction.
The facilitator required the students to reflect regularly on their learning and sometimes used these comments to advise and support newly enrolled students. She allowed students to design and negotiate their programme of learning. The facilitator also encouraged the students to develop their leadership skills as peer-tutors, co-ordinators and group leaders.
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