Strategies in Development

In addition to the conceptual and procedural scaffolding strategies identified in the learning task analysis, the organizational strategy (Smith and Ragan 2005) of a linear flow was used to let students pace their own progress through the modules in this orientation course. As demonstrated in Fig. 5.4, there were six modules in the orientation course, (1) characteristics of successful online students; (2) time management skills; (3) university computing and support information; (4) LMS support; (5) synchronous class meetings with Blackboard Collaborate; and (6) checking grade and feedback.

At the level of each lesson in a module, the instructional content was developed along the flow of Introduction ! Body ! Conclusion ! Assessment (Smith and Ragan 2005). Conceptual and procedural scaffolding strategies were applied in the

Organization strategy at course level for the orientation

Fig. 5.4 Organization strategy at course level for the orientation

flow for managing learning activities. Each module started with a prompt stating the purpose of the module, what content a student was expected to learn, and how the learning would be assessed. Then, the body of the module presented the content in text or media format with conceptual and/or procedural scaffolding that a student could learn thoroughly or review briefly if she/he already had the knowledge or perceived competency. Each module concluded with an assessment to provide a transition anchor to the following module.

For metacognition concepts, such as characteristics of successful online students, conceptual scaffolding (Hannafin et al. 1999) was primarily applied as a development strategy (Smith and Ragan 2005). Selected readings and video clips were presented (Fig. 5.5). Then, following a tutorial about posting to an online discussion forum, the assessment was captured with a student reflection in a discussion posting about a successful online student profile. Blind posting to the online discussion was applied so that a student was required to think and post before reading peers’ posts.

In most cases, conceptual and procedural scaffolding strategies were utilized simultaneously. This was distinct in developing the course so that learning tasks

Conceptual and procedural scaffolding in Module One

Fig. 5.5 Conceptual and procedural scaffolding in Module One

Conceptual and procedural scaffolding in Module Two

Fig. 5.6 Conceptual and procedural scaffolding in Module Two

focused on the orientation content rather than following how-to tutorials. In particular, this was highlighted in the time management module, as demonstrated with Fig. 5.6. In the module, students were required to read an article about the essential strategies needed to manage time. In the meantime, students were instructed to download a blank time management worksheet (Appendix A); save it to their computers; fill in their time distribution among study, summer work, and other commitments including social obligations; and submit the filled worksheet as an assignment. This was designed for students to perform a self reflection with the process of conceptualization about the importance and strategies of time management. It also provided a transition for students to internalize the concepts to their own scenarios. In the same module, procedural scaffolding was provided with an embedded video about downloading a file from Canvas and submitting an assignment.

Conceptual and procedural scaffolding in Module Five

Fig. 5.7 Conceptual and procedural scaffolding in Module Five

Another simultaneous use of conceptual and procedural scaffolding was in Module Five, as in Fig. 5.7. The module started with conceptual scaffolding by presenting a definition of Blackboard Collaborate™ (Collaborate), how it could be used for online learning, technical information, externally linked video tutorials about computer configurations, and a guide for synchronous meetings with Collaborate. If a student did not feel comfortable with the operation, the individual needs would encourage the student to review the configuration and how-to guides. The unit concluded with the student successfully launching a Collaborate meeting session, which was set as automatically recorded, as an assessment method. Typically, this unit fully utilized procedural scaffolding, which according to Hannafin et al. (1999) “emphasizes how to utilize available resources and tools. It orients to system features and functions, and otherwise aids the learner while navigating an online learning environment... Learners need not develop facility with all procedures until they have established, on an individual basis, the need for a given tool or resource” (p. 133). As an additional assessment method of this module, students were required to reflect on the process through an online discussion entry, which provided transfer for further application (Clark and Mayer 2011; Gagne et al. 2005).

 
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