The administrative position that I am working from in the development of this course is innovation specialist. The innovation specialist is a campus-based specialist who works with teachers on their campus to infuse innovative learning practices into the curriculum. Innovative learning strategies include collaborative learning, process-based or project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and digital or online learning. These strategies focus on allowing the learner to construct meaning through authentic tasks. While these strategies embrace personal experiences as a learning tool, online learning environments offer an additional benefit of personalization through technology.
Online learning environments provide ample opportunity for teachers to embrace constructivist design theory where the focus is on a real-world situation that gives the student the opportunity to construct and apply knowledge and skills, rather than merely focusing on acquiring knowledge. The major benefit online learning environments bring to the table is the ability to personalize learning and the ability to create collaborative learning opportunities.
Currently, many online courses are simply isolated, automated occurrences that do not incorporate reflection or discussion. A successful program will target the outcomes through a backward design process. For example, in the course Igniting a Fire: Creating an Innovative Culture of Learning, the primary goal is to introduce the concepts related to innovative teaching. Implementing the UbD table allows the course designer to closely monitor the content and outcomes to keep the learner focused on achieving the overall course goal.
Planning for online learning is not much different than planning for a traditional course, except for the multitude of opportunities available for differentiation and application. The flexibility and opportunity available to learners in an online format increases the viability of and importance of online courses. Due to the reflection and collaboration aspects of a well-designed online course, learning can be deeper and more piercing than traditional coursework. With the inclusion of the innovation specialist, school campuses can begin to create and implement online courses to provide personalized learning experiences for students and teachers, alike.
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching
and learning (Chapters 11-12). Retrieved from
Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.