Taming a wicked problem: Meeting academic standards, institutional goals and professional expectations in online courses

CORRALL, Sheila (2016) Taming a wicked problem: Meeting academic standards, institutional goals and professional expectations in online courses. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 124 - Education and Training with Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning and Information Technology.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1482
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Taming a wicked problem: Meeting academic standards, institutional goals and professional expectations in online courses

E-learning and online education have the potential to transform professional learning by widening access and participation, customizing and personalizing learning experiences, building communities of interest and practice, developing professional expertise and global competence, promoting diverse perspectives and inclusive behaviours, and supporting evidence-based reflective practitioners. However, online education programs have had a mixed reception; although popular with students, they have been disparaged for low standards and poor quality, and dismissed as academically weak and professionally unsatisfactory for subjects where hands-on experiential learning is regarded essential for theoretical understanding to be translated into working knowledge and practical skills. The present case study challenges such assumptions, showing that online asynchronous courses in library and information science can not only provide rich and rewarding experiences for learners and teachers, but can also result in quality enhancement of their traditional face-to-face counterparts by transferring methods developed for the virtual learning environment to the onsite classroom. The study describes the course development process adopted and the designs produced, and reflects on the experiences of course delivery, drawing on student evaluations and instructor reflections collected over several terms. Eight factors are judged critical to the success of online courses: upfront advice and consultancy from an instructional designer; ongoing help and support from an instructional technologist; breadth and depth of subject matter expertise; learning from best practices in the field; systematic evaluation and feedback from student learners; annual review and reflection by the instructor; an accessible and flexible course management system; and a functional and reliable information technology infrastructure. Library and information science educators of the future need to move beyond the T-shaped competency model of one area of profound specialist expertise supported by generalist capabilities to the Pi-shaped or H-shaped model of double-stemmed expertise to meet the academic and professional demands of learning in dynamic online environments.

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