Instructor Lens on Opening Access via Multi-Access Learning
Multi-access learning (Irvine, 2009; Irvine, 2010; Irvine, Code, & Richards, 2013) is the expansion of mainstream brick-and-mortar campus face-to-face courses into online modalities without creating a separate stream of online offerings. As instructors increasingly move from face-to-face to online modalities, in whole or in part, choices are made about whether that online space is closed or open. In this paper, the instructors of closed versions of multi-access courses will be interviewed regarding their course experiences and their perceptions about closed and open online pedagogy. As open culture begins to pervade post-secondary campuses, there is a growing need to understand the practices and processes successful instructors enact in these open environments to facilitate community, deal with issues of control and power, and to implement successful strategies for learning design in open modalities. In addition, in order to mainstream open education, the inhibiting factors preventing instructors from traversing out of closed practices need to be identified and overcome.
Previous studies have referenced the challenges for instructors in teaching face-to-face and remote participants simultaneously while considering community building. Various strategies have been offered to address these challenges including: the use of teaching assistants to help the instructor engage with students (White, Ramirez, Smith & Plonowski, 2010); the establishment of cultural guides and in class students assigned to host a distance learner (Stewart, Harlow, & DeBacco, 2011); and the use of Technical Navigators to assist with remote students (Cain, Sawaya, & Bell, 2013). Furthermore, the flexibility offered to learners through multi-access environments in terms of being in class or not can be perceived as a loss to the instructor in terms of control over the remote students’ learning environment. The move to open in these environments can be viewed as an even further extension of loss of control. Instructors’ perceptions of these losses of control should be thoroughly understood as instructors still have the choice whether to implement open in their multi-access or online classes.
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