As a healthcare-focused educator, I support the field of instructional design and the transformation from focusing on teaching strategies to the importance of student learning and application. I acknowledge and affirm the intersection of academic development, its delivery process, and student learning by concentrating on its practical application. Education and learning require an understanding between the professor and the student. Therefore, I ensure learners have an opportunity for autonomy by designing courses grounded in constructivism, student-centered instruction, the and proper use of technological resources.
During prior examinations of students learning experiences, researchers often observed instructors merely disseminating information through one-way interactions (Ecclestone, 2005). As a healthcare-focused learner scientist, I've witnessed the effectiveness of autonomous learning, and now believe learning experiences must entail critical thinking and reflection, independent decision-making, and utilization of cognitive and deductive reasoning. Each learner is empowered to control their level of knowledge from the instructor's promotion of learning strategy awareness techniques, implemented to encourage maximum self-directed learning.
Online learners are typically non-traditional adult students, possessing a wealth of life and career experiences. The constructivism theory allows students to demonstrate self-directed learning by providing them with tools to accomplish problem-solving tasks. Additionally, this method guides how learners apply prior experiences to navigate potential solutions during higher-order academic and authentic assessments (Duffy & Jonassen, 2013). Online courses in higher education must consider learners' prior knowledge when developing content that requires in-depth exploration and critical synthesis to achieve this level of student-centered learning.
Identifying learner's reflective thought processes dramatically contributes to an instructor's ability to instill doctrine. Once learners have an opportunity to reflect on the curriculum, the course design then allows for an additional level of complexity. This extra level of complexity creates a mental environment of departmentalization of scholarship experiences and learners' ability to make a connection with newly introduced theoretical concepts (Siemens, 2014). Application of theories relative to the learner’s personal and professional familiarity affords the instructor an inherent advantage when imparting relevant and practical approaches.
The use of problem-based learning (PBL) typically requires learners to identify a unique dilemma, or issue, before reviewing course materials. After instructional delivery, learners will begin the process of problem-solving by first examining the available resources (Hung, Jonassen & Liu, 2008). Depending on the class size and structure, instructors may assign resource teams, and request bibliographies or a list of resources students will reference, before beginning the evaluation phase of PBL. The course design methods encourage learners to utilize multiple reliable resources. Reliable resources include scholarly internet sites, textbooks, journals, and publications, which offer the instructor an opportunity to introduce empirical data versus biased and opinionated resources. To create successful independent learners, they must possess the skills required to search, access, and implement scholarly and adequately validated resources.
Creating engaging virtual courses for non-traditional learners is a personal passion. I have an innate ability to identify with learners on several levels related to non-traditional and traditional online learning best practices. I am continually learning new strategies to assist faculty instruction and students’ academic success. Moreover, I am actively improving my ability to transform learning and teaching due to constant change, evolution, and growth of instructional design best practices and technological resources. Ultimately, my goal as a professional educator is to provide instructors and faculty with the ability to convey their message to all learners by ensuring to equip them with the educational tools and resources required to achieve their academic and professional goals.