As we look to educate, there has always been three critical components: authentic planning, clear expectations, and valid and reliable assessment. Even though these components should be readily assumed, when one or more is missing the learners will become agitated.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. As the development of lessons, modules, units and courses takes place, there must be an authentic planning phase. Classroom action must be designed to support learner obtainment of the intended objective(s). The most effective manner in which to ensure effective classroom action is for the instructor to complete the activities prior to using them with the learners. Of course, in the current educational era, giving learners the opportunity to provide input into the classroom action planning is popular. Include this technique as the maturity of the learners allow.
As a result of authentic planning, clear expectations should be easily developed and delivered to learners. Since the classroom action has been pretested and polished, the instructor should be well versed in what is expected and have the confidence to allow for individualized (read "constructivistic") pursuits beyond the content expectations. There must be attention given to classroom management as well. Students need to understand how to actively participate in self-determined learning, peer-to-peer interactions, and whole group discussions. Note: The perfect lesson plan does not guarantee classroom management. Classroom management must be addressed. If not, then the behavior of the learners can interrupt learning.
Valid and Reliable Assessment
Formative or summative assessment? Rubric, fill-in-the blank or essay? Terra Nova or SAT? There is no difference when we examine these instruments through the lens coated with validity and reliability. If authentic planning has occurred and clear expectations communicated, then valid and reliable assessment should follow. Again, I strongly recommend the instructor complete the assessment instrument before using it with the learners.
Regardless of whether you are using the constructivist learning model, objectivist learning model, or a combination, the instructor is responsible to ensure authentic planning has occurred, clear expectations have been communicated, and valid and reliable assessments are used. The tools (online or not) used to accomplish these actions are of secondary importance to the actual classroom action.
With respect to how I might adjust a course to reflect what I found in recent readings, I will analyze and evaluate the current course design, complete the activities myself, and adjust as necessary to match the intended outcomes. In addition, I will plan to support individual interest in going beyond the intended outcomes.