Saturday, October 24, 2009

Changing Instructor Roles

In my opinion these are the new roles tutors can assume:

From lecturer to facilitator

The teacher does not give students the information; he guides them to find it on their own. For example websites, documents, blogs, etc.

From provider of content to designer of learning experiences

Trough dynamic and meaningful activities the teacher leads students to apply contents to solve real problems.

From source of information to presenter of critical or open-ended questions

Invites students to reflect about issues instead of taking things for granted.
For example, asking students to reflect about the way they contribute to take care of nature instead of giving lectures about it.

From objective-based to project/inquiry-based instructional designer and assessor

Getting to agreements with students about the contents of a project instead of imposing his ideas.

From user of ‘one size fits all’ approach to moderator for a variety of learning styles

Designing sessions with a variety of activities that meet most of the students’ learning styles.

From controller of a teaching environment to co-creator of a learning experience

As part of a learning community, the teacher doesn’t know everything and doesn’t have all the answers. From that perspective, he has to accept that students are able to generate knowledge as well.

From instruction-presenter to learning-facilitator

He has to engage students in active participation, providing them with all the tools so that they can find and use the information in real contexts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Managing and moderating the online learning environment

These are in my opinion the 30 most important factors in managing and moderating an online learning environment.

1. Set clear objectives for the session.
2. Become familiar and proficient at the use of the technology – practice in advance.
3. Provide an overview of timetable, procedures, expectations and decision-making norms
where appropriate.
4. Create a policy on communications.
5. Value participation.
6. Generate ideas through active brainstorming and facilitate development of consensus.
7. Set a specific amount of time for group discussion and collaboration.
8. Encourage contributions from ‘student experts’.
9. Use problem solving and case study approaches.
10. Set topics clearly and in advance so that the conversation doesn’t wander.
11. Limit instructor participation – complement and expand on ideas, don’t offer them.
12. Vary presentations with discussion and student-centered activity.
13. Engage experts or professionals in a related field via presentations and panel
14. Encourage active use of peer messaging.
15. Test the presentation online in advance of your scheduled lesson.
16. Ask a lot of questions, and review answers or comments providing summary comment.
17. Be prepared for technology failure – have a backup option (email, fax or telephone).
18. Make sure participants are comfortable with the system – hold practice sessions.
19. Don’t rely on offline materials – bring them into the online environment for discussion.
20. Be conversational and avoid sounding lofty and academic.
21. Create open debates with posted positions on topics.
22. Thank students publicly for comments that show insight or depth.
23. End sessions at the posted time.
24. Be patient; speak slowly and distinctly.
25. Set the agenda and pace, be prepared to adjust according to participant need.
26. Manage the flow and direction of discussion without stifling creative opportunity –
watch for balance in contribution, particularly the instructor’s!
27. Be responsive – remedy issues as they arise, help participants with information
28. Use private messaging for prompting appropriate contributions.
29. Provide a weekly agenda of activities and assignments.
30. Be sure to begin and end at agreed time.


LaBonte, Randy et al (2003) Moderating Tips for Synchronous Learning Using Virtual Classroom Technologies. Odyssey Learning Systems Inc. Retrieved from [Available as an Eresource]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication

In my opinion, the future of education will be more in the form of virtual courses. This type of education is more accessible to most people as it is cheaper, breaks the barriers of distance and facilitates the adjustment of schedules among other reasons. However, as it is mentioned in Haefner’s (2000) article, the most adequate type of virtual education is the one that embraces synchronous and asynchronous modes of information exchange. This provides learners with a variety of opportunities to express ideas, come to agreements and thus generate new knowledge. If courses focus on only one mode, students will get bored and discouraged due to the lack of variety, appropriate and timely feedback and interaction. Therefore, the ideal course would be the one in which the student can interact in real time, but also the one in which he/she can devote time to think and reflect so as to prepare high quality contributions to the learning community.


Haefner,Joel. (2000). The Importance of Being Synchronous. Academic. Writing. Retrieved from