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Sunday, August 28, 2011

BEST PRACTICES IN ONLINE EDUCATION: Online Instructors, Courses, and administrators

Don't miss this article from Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education TOJDE.
This paper describes the roles of teachers and administrators in online learning, and discusses the rules of best practices for both.

Photo: Ziad D. BAGHDADI
Ziad D. BAGHDADI writes, "There is no universally accepted definition of what a best practice is. However, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) describes best practices as having four common characteristics: they are innovative; they make a difference; they have a sustainable effect; and they have the potential to be replicated and to serve as a model for generating initiatives elsewhere (UNESCO, n.d). When applied to a particular condition, a best practice must ensure the delivery of the most effective outcome, based on repeatable procedures or activities that have been proven they over time for large numbers of people.

The best practice in education is the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way by which society transmits its accumulated knowledge and skills from one generation to another. The use of computers and the Internet in transmitting knowledge and skills is blossoming, and new technology is increasingly being used to complement established education practices and develop new ways of learning such as online education. For technology to offer powerful learning tools for engaging students, online curricula must be developed based on best practices principles and taught by highly qualified teachers using principles of effective online teaching. An academic curriculum is composed of several coherent courses related by themes, enabling the learners to move from the basic foundation of knowledge to more advanced, sophisticated levels of critical thinking and mastery of skills. The attention devoted to each and every course composing the curriculum will lead to a powerful teaching tool, ending with a recognizable scientific degree.

Similarly, the traditional role of teachers is being challenged as a reflection of changing teaching philosophies. Online learning, with its steady increase in popularity and acceptance, exerts more strain on teachers to change their tools and concepts of teaching and evaluating. As an online teacher, close adherence to instructor best practices and expectations ensures a successful outcome of the learning process, which is rewarding to both the teacher and learner alike."