A New Angle on an Old Topic
Abrami, P. C., Bernard, R. M., Bures, E. M., Borokhovski, E., & Tamim, R. M. (2011). Interaction in distance education and online learning: using evidence and theory to improve practice. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 23, 82-103.
This article takes a step back from traditional analyses of distance education uses a compilation of research to try to determine what is next for distance education and online learning. Existing research is compared back to motivational and educational theories for a deeper evaluation of how far research has come. All of these factors are pulled together to determine how best to implement the next developmental generation of online learning.
The authors pointed out that many articles view traditional learning as 'flat' and tend to compare the notable points in distance education/online learning to whatever appears to correspond in a traditional classroom. Rarely are the notable features of what makes face-to-face learning effective examined first. The authors placed a heavy focus on material being interesting to students, but did not specifically define what makes content interesting to everyone. Certainly some students will find plain text content interesting, while others may be interested only in content presented in a way relevant specifically to them.
I immediately saw the advantage of breaking learning tasks down into three phases: forethought, performance, and self-reflection. While this can be helpful for all types of learning tasks, I identified its use in creative projects immediately. Students, particularly ambitious ones, have a tendency to bit off more than they can chew with creative projects. Additionally, mistakes on creative projects can sometimes not be undone due to deadlines or limited materials. With the addition of a forethought phase, students are more likely to determine where they could go wrong and what can be done to prevent this. In a self-reflection stage, students would have the opportunity to discuss their creative journey through the project and identify what they would do differently in the future.