Teaching in an Online Learning Context

Terry Anderson, Theory, Practice of Online Learning, Feb 23, 2004
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Over the last ten years or so Terry Anderson has contributed a great deal to our understanding of the mechanics of online learning. He has always, in my view, fostered the transfer of traditional teaching to the online environment, drawing this out (especially in his work with Walter Archer) as a process of creating 'presence' online. This paper is more a summary of this approach than anything, but a clear and accessible summary. In the first part of the paper Anderson discusses the role of discourse and the blending of two opposing views of e-learning: synchronous participation in (something like) a classroom setting, and asynchronous 'independent study' modes of learning. Turning to student grading, he considers the worth of assigning weight to participation in online discourse and surveys some frameworks for this sort of assessment. Finally, he looks at the role of the teacher as the provider of direct online instruction and the establishment of 'teaching presence'.
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