As we move toward to the end of ONL201 course, we have a good chance to think about a course design of our own, a course in veterinary sciences, in my case, with Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning.
I will focus mostly on teaching presence of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) and to a lesser extend emotion and learning in my reflection. I will discuss the teaching presence of blended course plans in veterinary sciences. I will also bring the emotion issue up which I consider as a crucial part of learning in my field.
As we all are aware of the Community of Inquiry theoretical framework which represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience for students particularly in an online environment, it comprises three interdependent elements, namely social, cognitive and teaching presence (CoI theory).
Teaching presence has three components, namely design, facilitation of discourse, and direct instruction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes. The all three components play equally important roles in successful online teaching. Therefore, teaching presence includes both the planning (designing) and forethought that go into building our course and what we do when interacting with our students. The parts of teaching presence that occur while the course is in session include facilitation of discourse and direct instruction (Shea et al., 2004).
Modern veterinary education requires a different kind of mindset rather than only a classroom, a laboratory and a clinical teaching. Offering online courses is also needed for the successful teaching in veterinary sciences. Unusual cases such as COVID-19 pandemic which we are experiencing now make the online education inevitable for all fields. However, blended online courses are appropriate for veterinary sciences because of the nature of the field which requires a big part of face-to-face practice with a mentor (teacher).
Instructional design and organization includes course materials and activities. In a survey (Kupczynski et al., 2010), students ranked facilitation of discourse as 45%, direct instruction as 44%, and instructional design and organization as only 11% important. Although based on these results the design of the course is not much important to the students, I believe the design is a crucial part of the teaching and should be prepared with a great diligence. Activities in course designs of veterinary fields may include off-campus activities such as fieldwork in animal farms, slaughterhouses, private clinics as well as feed, milk- and meat-processing factories. On campus activities may include brainstorming, debate, hypothetical situation (scenarios) and laboratory and clinical experiments. Laboratory and clinical experiments and are exclusive for medical fields like veterinary sciences. Part of online design in blended courses has more theoretical aspects or activities such as essay assignments, fishbowl activities, gaming, oral reports, reflections, wikis, and a lot more.
Facilitation of discourse
Facilitation of discourse includes engaging in asynchronous student discussions to raise questions or make observations. The course facilitator plays an essential role in encouraging group members to become thoughtful inquirers, autonomous thinkers, and constructive co-learners (Collison et al., 2000).
Direct instruction of cognitive and social processes
Direct instruction component consists of instructor serving as the subject matter expert through the presentation of content, summarizing discussions and injecting relevant information, assessing student work and providing feedback, identifying and correcting misperceptions, and using personal experiences to illustrate concepts and content (Jensen and Mostrom, 2012).
Emotion and learning
I think emotion in learning is a huge issue. Emotion cannot be considered separate from learning environment (Brookfield, 2006). Since emotion is a personal identity, it deeply influences the learning process. Emotions can be expressed in a wide range of positive factors such as passion, like, hope, desire, humor, excitement, delight, pride and appreciation, but also of negative factors such as dislike, unhappiness, fear, frustration and stress. Literature suggests that medical, dental, law, nursing, and veterinary students experience high levels of stress and depression, in particular females and students in years 2 and 3. (Killinger et al. 2017). In that sense, emotion in learning gains more importance in classical and online courses of veterinary sciences. The emotion in learning has been properly summarized by the Cleveland-Innes M & Campbell (2012) such that “Emotion may constrain learning as a distracter but, if managed, may serve as an enabler in support of thinking, decision making, stimulation, and directing”. Therefore, as teachers we should try our best to manage the emotions.
Developing an online teaching presence in a blended course may require more preparation time than developing a classroom presence. However, due to its nature, veterinary fields demand such course types offered. Teachers in a successful blended course design should establish and maintain their presence and their disciplinary expertise and share a valuable learning experience with their students.
Brookfield SD. (2006). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cleveland-Innes M & Campbell P. (2012). Emotional Presence, Learning, and the Online Learning Environment. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 13. 269-292. 10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1234.
Collison G, Bonnie E, Haavind S, and Tinker R. (2000) Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators, Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
Jensen GM and Mostrom E. (2012) Handbook of Teaching for Physical Therapists – E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Killinger SL, Flanagan S, Castine E, Howard KA. (2017) Stress and Depression among Veterinary Medical Students. J Vet Med Educ. Spring 2017;44(1):3-8.
Kupczynski L, Ice P, Wiesenmayer R, and McCluskey F. (2010). Student perceptions of the relationship between indicators of teaching presence and success in online courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 9(1), 23-43.
Shea PJ, Pickett AM, and Pelz WE. (2004) Enhancing student satisfaction through faculty development: The importance of teaching presence. In: J. Bourne & J. C. Moore (Eds.), Elements of quality online education: Into the mainstream, Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education. Vol. 5, 39-59.