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A digital learning environment should consist of four components: Static Content, Dynamic Content, Collaboration, and Assessment.



Static Content
  • Describe the objectives to students and give them a reason to want to learn the content thus making the content relevant.
  • The lessons should also explain the content with enough detail so the students have a foundation to build upon. In other words, after completing the lesson, the students should have a basic understanding of the content. Your static content should not tell them everything. Instead, students should be encouraged to investigate topics further on their own.
  • The static content should also be aligned to the district's and state’s academic content standards. The lessons should be designed to help the students get one step closer to mastering the standards.



Dynamic Content
  • Even when the static lessons are designed well, some students will struggle with some of the content; teachers must be prepared to provide these students with supplemental learning objects. In Moodle, that would be the Dynamic Content.
  • These learning objects should be created based on the individual needs of the students. They can be delivered to all students, but they should be created with individual needs in mind. When these objects are created, teachers need to focus on how the content was presented in the static lesson and then create objects using different styles. For example, if the static lesson is text-heavy, then the supplemental learning objects should be more auditory or visual.
  • The supplemental learning objects should be used by the teacher to differentiate instruction.
  • No matter what type of object is created, this dynamic content can be delivered either to individual students as needed or to the entire class as a way to address potential “hurdles” in the curriculum.

Collaboration
  • The teacher to student and student to student interaction in an online course can be very challenging, but it is an essential component of all good online learning environments. Teachers need to provide their students with opportunities to ask questions and share their thoughts.
  • There are two types of collaboration asynchronous and synchronous.
    • Asynchronous means that it is not in real time and can be done through email, blogs, wikis, and discussion forums. These tools would allow students to ask the teacher a private question, or to post a question or concern for the entire class to read and respond to.
    • Synchronous interactions can be created by using chatting software or applications like iChat. These tools give the students the opportunity to have real-time conversations.
  • Providing both types of collaboration is essential because it creates a sense of community and gives students a “voice.”

Assessment
  • The final piece of the online course puzzle is the assessment of student achievement. There are two types of assessments that should be used: formative and summative.
    • Formative assessments should be used continuously, throughout the course. Teachers can collect a huge amount of data about their students’ strengths and weaknesses and they should use this data to adjust their instruction.Teachers also need to provide their students with immediate feedback. Without this feedback, students will not know what they need to work on to improve their understanding.
    • Summative assessments should be used periodically throughout a course. These assessments are used to determine whether the students have achieved the objectives or not.