#CdnELTChatSummary: eLearning Essentials

#CdnELTchat summary for May 12, 2020 By Bonnie Nicholas.

The #CdnELTchat community was happy to welcome Linda Manimtim, MEd (TESL) as our guest moderator for our chat on eLearning Essentials: Using Instructional Design Principles for Online Language Training. Linda (@lindamanimtim) is based in Winnipeg and is an Instructional Designer at Red River College in Winnipeg and an EAL Specialist with the Professional English Group (PEG) Canada. She is currently working on developing eSkills, a digital literacy course for newcomers.

These are the questions that guided our conversation during the hour-long chat:

Q1: In your mind, what is (or what isn’t) instructional design? 

Q2: How is instructional design implemented in your context? How can instructional design be injected into current practice as painlessly as possible?

Q3: Especially with the immediate and necessary push to e-learning, teachers must often assume the roles of instructional designer AND instructor; what challenges does this present and how can we approach them? 

Q4: The primary purposes of any instructional designer are to analyze learning needs and to systematically improve learning experiences. What best practices are key to improving the e-learning language learning experience? 

Q5: UDL or Universal Design for Learning, is a way of teaching and learning that seeks to give all learners equal opportunity to succeed, by varying representation, engagement, and expression. How can we incorporate UDL for our online language learners?

Q6: How has your experience been with e-learning so far? What else do you want to know about e-learning? What resources do you think are essential?

The consensus was that instructional design is more important than ever, as #ELT around the world continues online for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Linda and to all the participants for being willing to share ideas and promising practices for designing online learning environments. Here are some highlights from our hour-long chat:

  • Instructional Design simply means analyzing current and future needs and improving learning experiences.
  • #ELT professionals are likely already intuitively using instructional design (ID) in their teaching, but there is value in using the ADDIE model to explicitly identify and apply Merrill’s principles, Gagne’s events, Bloom’s taxonomy, or Garrison and Anderson’s community of inquiry.
  • The shift to emergency online teaching and learning has made instructional design more important than ever. There hasn’t been a focus on ID in #ELT, but that is changing.
  • Good ID means using outcome-driven activities that will drive learning. ID is like the framing of a house: it holds everything up but you don’t see it. ID informs decisions, supports content, and builds consistency.
  • Use check-ins to help keep learners on track; focus on building community, making connections, and nurturing a positive learning environment in your online space. 
  • Build courses for those with low bandwidth and limited access, but ensure keeners have extension activities to challenge themselves. Focus on accessibility and readability. 
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) suggests having multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. Having choices is important, and shifts responsibility to the learner.
  • Remember that we are still in emergency mode as we transform to online teaching and learning. We need to be patient with ourselves and our learners. Go slow and low. Stay connected with colleagues in your workplace, your #PLN, and your #CommunityofPractice.

We’ve collected the tweets from the chat using Tweetdeck; you can view the collection on Twitter (You’ll be able to read all the tweets from the evening’s conversation, even if you don’t have a Twitter account). We had many more questions than we had time to discuss, so we’ll be asking Linda back for round two in the fall. 

There is a scheduled #CdnELTchat, usually about every two weeks, with a posted topic and often a guest moderator with a special interest or expertise in the topic. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been having weekly drop-in check-ins. We will start our summer hiatus in mid-June, but please continue to use the hashtag #CdnELTchat to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. You can also reach out to the #CdnELTchat team: Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Jennifer Chow (@JennifermChow), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. We’ll start regular chats again in the fall; please let us know if you’re willing to be a guest moderator for a one-hour chat on a topic that you are especially interested in.