Converting to Distance Learning Format

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Dr. Lewis is a training manager with many years of experience. However, Dr. Lewis has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face to face trainings, these past few months. Dr. Lewis would like to try part of the training to be online. With his supervisor’s permission, Dr. Lewis is looking to convert all his trainings from face to face training to a distant blended format for trainees and trainer to be able to communicate more effectively. Dr. Lewis is also considering to put all his training material so that students have access to resources and assignments at all times.

Dr. Lewis studied that according to Lorenzetti, J (2011), in her article The Benefits of Blended Learning Explained, blended learning assist institutions with the following:

  • Improves training facilitation and utilization
  • Can help fill under-enrolled courses and training programs
  • Help meet trainees/learners expectations and build learners skills
  • Offers learners and facilitators flexibility and convenience
  • Helps reduce training/educational cost
  • Allows more flexibility for learners and facilitator in relation to scheduling
  • Give learners access to new resources

After considering these benefits among many, Dr. Lewis continue to research looking at several resources concerning blended learning. Among resources found, his favorite was a journal of continuing higher education, Korr, Derwin, Greene, and Sokoloff (2012), in transitioning an Adult-Serving University to a Blended Learning Model, explain in detail, the implementation and transition from face-to-face to blended learning for GGC (Georgia Gwynnett College). A resource with great ideas, some of which Dr. Lewis included in his pre-planning strategies. Able to work with one of the training department best instructional designer, he reviewed the pre-planning strategies to be consider before converting his program. They both worked on the following pre-planning strategies:

  • Survey learners to get to know trainees
  • Lewis completed an online course on blended learning experience in which he specialized and train in blended learning theory and pedagogy as well as basic Blackboard skills
  • Training Department hired a new staff member to assist with technology support for the online part of the blended training course who worked with Dr. Lewis and the instructional designer in the planning stage
  • The trainer department developer would create the distant learning part of the instruction on the company website
  • The trainer department developer, along with the instructional designer, the support technician and Dr. Lewis would work together to develop a tutorial to instruct learners, on how to use the distant learning side of the instruction
  • Work with instructional designer on delivery methods that support the objectives of the training program
  • Lewis, instructional designer and one of the trainees worked hand on hand in the planning process of the transition to address trainees’ needs
  • Lewis, as a subject matter expert along with one of the top trainees and the instructional designers, work together on essential goals to enhance learners’ performance outcomes in blended training courses
  • Strategy to creatively manage time out of class room as well as in classroom

They began planning what components will be facilitated online and what will be facilitated face-to-face. Dr. Lewis again considered the journal of continuing higher education by Korr, Derwin, Greene, and Sokoloff (2012), in Transitioning an Adult-Serving University to a Blended Learning Model, discussion concerning success factors in distance learning programs. He decided to enhance in his distant learning program from his original training program assignments, activities and supporting lesson tools. Dr. Lewis with the assistance of the trainee consider which activities are more effectively accomplished online. He also enhance an online component to assist students on the topic of the lessons trainees had more difficulty with. Dr. Lewis also consider the use gamification for some of the distant learning activities to enhance learner’s distant learning experience. Build online groups and tools for trainees to communicate among them and with trainer to work on assignments and projects.

While reviewing the Strategies for Enhancing Student Interactivity in an Online Environment, by Durrington, Vance, Berryhill and Swafford (2006), Dr. Lewis understood his role as a face-to-face trainer, changes in a distant learning environment trainer. He would have to be more mobile and flexible to answer trainees’ questions and manage his time more effectively out of training class and during training class. Although students cannot hear the intonation of an instructor’s voice or benefit from body language, emoticons or abbreviations can be used to provide clues, prevent misunderstanding, enhance engagement, and communicate humor.

Dr. Lewis also understood, as a trainer, he would need to encourage trainees to communicate online. Dr. Lewis would utilize Durrington, Vance, Berryhill and Swafford (2006), the following suggestions to encourage trainees to communicate online.

  • Provide students with instructions, deadlines, clear expectation of the course
  • Promote an open, respectful and supportive online environment
  • Timeliness in responding to trainees’ questions to contribute to a learning environment that encourages interactivity
  • Address student with respect at all times
  • Utilize gamification when creating assignments and activities
  • Ask trainees questions directly related to their online postings
  • Respond to trainees posting to demonstrate their comments are valued and encourages them to participate
  • Encourage peer discussions and group assignments

After, the completion of the online distant part of the training class, Dr. Lewis felt he had made the right decision. A small group of trainees was called to begin an Alpha and Beta test of the final blended format training, in which the final modifications were made.

References:

Korr, J., Derwin, E. B., Greene, K., & Sokoloff, W. (2012). Transitioning an Adult-Serving University to a Blended Learning Model. Journal Of Continuing Higher Education, 60(1), 2-11.

Lorenzetti, J. (2011), Faculty Focus: The Benefits of Blended Learning Explained. Retrieved from: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/distance-learning/the-benefits-of-blended-learning-explained/

Durrington, V., Berryhill, A. & Swafford, J (2006). Strategies for Enhancing Student Interactivity in an Online Environment. Retrieved from: http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/433631/strategies_for_enhancing_student_interactivity_in_an_online_environment/

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