After reading multiple articles and chapters the past few weeks and contemplating what I would prefer in a PhD program, I wanted to share a few of ideas I thought were important to consider.  I prefer a hybrid program compared to fully online.   My current program is a hybrid or blended e-learning because of weekly synchronous meetings in Adobe Connect and our annual meetings in June. I am currently reading several chapters on the differences of synchronous and asynchronous instructional design and the planning and implementation differences of each type.  As a teacher of asynchronous e-learning and a student in a hybrid program, I am very curious and want to learn more on these two e-learning areas.  I will expand on these topics at a later date.

My current program has a built-in mentoring program.  The benefits of mentoring, according to Dennen & Burner (n.d.) include: academic achievement (attendance, attitude), health and safety (behaviors), and social and emotional development.  The mentoring strategies that can be implemented vary, and I see mentoring to be an important part of this program.  The roles of our mentors and their importance to the program could be explored further.  The mentor role in this program is one of great value.  A peer as a mentor is another mentoring form that may be beneficial.  Peer review is commonly used in our courses, as well as group projects.  These relationships can be beneficial and though aren’t true peer mentorship, may serve a similar purpose.

Scaffolding, as used for extra support for those who need it is another important key to a distance-delivered program.  Learners do not all need the same amount of scaffolding and the scaffolding can be synergistic (Dennen & Burner).  Scaffolds that support creative learning (everyday creativity to be a productive member of society) “must be designed in a way that retains core curricular structure and in a way this is easily adaptable to different communities and subject areas” (Lee & Kolodner, 2011, p. 3).  This is a challenge for the online classroom because of the role-shift of the instructor in the online environment (a topic that could be explored in-depth, as well).  These studies do show that learning occurs with scaffolding and that the learners’ individual needs can be supported, but I still see the distance being a barrier.  Mentoring and scaffolding (in the cognitive apprenticeship model) are two tools that could be further defined for use in my current PhD program.

Dennen, V.P. & Burner, K.J. (n.d.) The cognitive apprenticeship model in educational practice.

Lee, C.S. & Kolodner, J.L. (2011). Scaffolding students’ development of creative design skills: A curriculum reference model. Educational Technology & Society, 14(1) p. 3-15.

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