What lessons might we take from successful (and unsuccessful) OCL Institutional Innovations and from the concept of the Community of Practice (CoP)?
Online education has evolved in the last thirty years. Harasim stated that, “During the 1980s and early 1990s most online educational delivery of courses was the initiative and responsibility of individual teachers and professors, rather than an undertaking by institutions” (2012). The first online education courses were the responsibility of the teacher, and they did so using their own time and resources.
Instructors that initiated these distance courses used the Online Collaborative Learning approach (Harasim, 2012). The OCL approach focuses on collaborate learning, knowledge building, and Internet use. Harasim reported that, “…one attribute of ‘online’ learning is the text-based nature of the discourse that enables the instructor to see what the students are learning and how they are progressing (or not)” (2012). Using the OCL approach allows for the teacher to see the progression of learning and to allow for changes required to improve learning for participants.
The first and most popular institutions, the University of Phoenix, uses the OCL design. The UPXO has an emphasis on group discussion and project-based learning teams, and its’ participants work closely with classmates, instructors and counselors (Harasim, 2012). The university requires instructors to complete a rigorous, four-week training program to prepare them for their teaching position, and then set the instructors up with a veteran mentor teacher for the first course they’re teaching. Fisher from Education World reported that, “A mentor/first year teacher relationship, when properly executed pays big dividends for both educators. The new teacher grows in confidence as he or she finds those all-important ‘teaching legs’…” (2016).
Although the UXPO has been one of the most successful and well-known universities to offer online courses, its enrollment numbers have gone down with the rise of non-profit universities offering online degree programs. USA Today reports that the owner of the university is sold out to a group of investors in a deal that should have closed in August of 2016. This goes to show that online learning is thriving in non-profit universities.
Bomey, N. (2016). University of Phoenix to be Sold Amid Shrinking Enrollment. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/02/08/apollo-education-najafi-companies-vistria-group/79997402/
Fisher, M. (2016-09-28). The Importance of Mentors, or What I Learned from Harold. Education World. Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/voice/voice109.shtml
Harasim, Linda (2012-03-22). Learning Theory and Online Technologies. Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.