Getting the Balance Right: Applying the Online Learning Model to Teaching Practice
Teaching, like composing music, is as much art as science. There are many elements to balance and discord occurs if any one of the elements is in the wrong relationship to another. Technology has introduced a range of new possibilities to the teaching space but in doing so it introduces further opportunities for potential dissonance. There is no magic formula for creating fabulous music, or fabulous learning experiences, but there are principles that we know will work and combinations of elements that form pleasing patterns which we can repeat.
When composing, performing and recording a piece of music successful patterns and sound combinations used in the past are rethought and built on through a process of careful selection in the context of current practice and new ways of hearing and thinking about music. As educators we need to go through a similar process. Just as a musician builds on a personal history of scholarly expertise and immersion in music experience, developing a sense of the repertoires that please their ear and the ears of others, educators take the patterns of successful experiences and research of the past and recombine them in the new contexts of today to find the right balance for harmonious, or thrilling learning experiences.
The Online Learning Model proposed by CSU highlights seven elements composing a potential learning experience. These elements have been identified through prior experience and research to contribute to the composition of high quality learning experiences. They are not a mathematical formula that can be applied to every situation uniformly, the balance between the elements and the unique context of various courses determines the appropriate expression of each element. Educators must make the judgement calls at many stages along the way of planning, composing and performing learning experiences. They must weigh the needs of the experience and judge which elements to engage with in greater depth and which ones will provide better support with a lighter touch.