The purpose of this unit is to help you to begin to realize what online resources you will use for your online course.
Use existing online resources rather than creating your own.
Why use online resources?
The term online resources refers to a wide range of information available on the Internet including text, images, videos, case studies, journals, databases, and curricula to name a few. Online resources can be held in scholarly databases or libraries; be made by teachers specifically for their classes; or be found on the internet.
There any many different digital formats for online resources including web sites, audio and video podcasts, PDF files, ebooks, interactive learning objects, digital tools for creating resources etc. So many resources are now being freely shared online that it can be advantageous for teachers and students to develop an understanding of appropriate and legal use. Care must be also taken to assess the validity and copyright implications of using resources found online.
Students should be supported in developing appropriate information and digital literacy skills to help them make informed decisions about what constitutes an appropriate resource for learning. There are many benefits that using online resources can bring to teaching and learning, including:
- Access to information from many different voices and experts: There are many resources from credible institutions, public commentators, organizations and news media available online. Using these resources in class gives students an opportunity to access expert commentary on topics, and to contextualize their learning through analysis of different sources of information
- Save time: As a teacher, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or do everything yourself. You can bring the knowledge of other experts into your class and concentrate on facilitating active learning strategies such as discussions and analysis of the material
- Share your expertise with others: If you have created an online resource for a certain topic, you may wish to share this openly with others by making it available online under a Creative Commons license
- Students can take an active role in finding and sharing course resources: Integrating tasks into your curriculum where students find and assess online resources on a particular topic can be a good way to engage them in the class content and build their digital literacy skills
- Resources are always available: If resources for your class are online, students can always access them anywhere, and at any time that they are needed
- Equity and accessibility: Having resources online offers equity and accessibility to information for all students on and off-campus.
Moving content online
How you manage your time is critical to the success of your online course. Don’t transfer classroom content, activities and assessments online. Instead transform them.
Use existing institutional technology
Use the existing institutional technology provided for you. Its not perfect, we know. Don’t debate about whether or not it is the best tool, at least when you are beginning. It is a useful framework for organizing your online course and teaching. There is enough flexibility to allow you to teach in a variety of different ways. Learn it, then take time to PRACTICE using it until you get better and better.
The same applies to synchronous web technologies Think carefully about when it would be best to use synchronous rather than asynchronous online tools. Synchronous is useful when you want to get a group of students together at one time, but such synchronous tools tend to be instructor-dominated (delivering lectures and controlling the discussion). However, you could encourage students working in small teams on a project to use Collaborate to decide roles and project assignments.
On the other hand, asynchronous tools provide online learners with more flexibility than synchronous tools, and enable them to work more independently (an important skill for students to develop).
Use Resources available through the library
Probably one of the first places to look for scholarly resources should be the library. The open web, and search engines such as Google Scholar cannot always reach resources held within subscription only databases. Some resources available through the library include:
- Subscription-only databases, including those containing texts, images, music and news broadcasts.
- Electronic journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.
- Electronic books.
Use existing online content
The Internet, and the World Wide Web, have an immense amount of free content under certain conditions (look for the Creative Commons license usually at the end of the page). However, open educational resources vary in quality and range.
Most content is not unique or original. Get your students to search, find, select, and content material. After all, these are key ’21st century skills’ that students need to have.
Use Open Educational Resources (OER)
There is a wealth of credible learning resources for all stages of learning, that have been made available to the world for free under the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER). These resources are usually released under Creative Commons licenses by different educational institutions or individual academics for use by anyone, providing they comply with the conditions of the license.
OER cover many different subject areas, and include a wide variety of learning materials such as curricula, lectures, interactive learning objects, professional development materials, podcasts, etc.
There are several online OER repositories that enable teachers to contribute to, and access material from the larger academic community, such as MERLOT, MIT Open Courseware, Jorum and iTunes U. These repositories make it easy to search for resources across a variety of criteria such as topic or type of media. Some repositories contain peer review systems to help establish the authenticity and reputation of the resources.
The advantages of OER include:
- Access to a range of digital formats: You may not have the skills required to make the same type of resources that you can find online that have been made by other educators. Using a variety of digital formats such as text, video, images and audio can be an exciting way to engage students in your class.
- Currency of information: There are always new resources being published or uploaded into the aforementioned repositories on a wide range of topics
- Use resources from some of the most reputable institutions in the world: You have the opportunity to use resources from institutions with reputations for quality learning and teaching, and to use material created by world renowned experts in different fields. MIT, Harvard and Cambridge along with many other institutions , provide resources for open use which can be found on iTunes U or other OER repositories
- Many points of view: Students have the chance to learn from a range of different experts and sources, creating greater opportunities for comparative analysis, discussion and debate
- Save time and money: Institutions are free to use OER for teaching as long as they comply with the Creative Commons license they are offered under. There are no access or development costs, and materials are usually ready for immediate use
Creative Commons allows the sharing and remixing of work in accordance with the various licenses, as with OER. However, resources or information that are not offered under Creative Commons licenses are subject to copyright law.
What are your colleagues doing?
Another often invaluable resource is the material your colleagues have developed for their courses and is also relevant to your own course. Consider working collaboratively to develop and share high quality materials.
- Most courses are overstuffed with content and not enough consideration is given to authentic activities.
- Online learners need clarity about what they are supposed to do each week.
- It is essential that learners do not procrastinate online.
Unit 3 – Practice
Complete the following practice: Teaching Online Action Plan-Unit 3
Unit 3- Self Assessment & Badge
Complete the following self assessment: