GRAD5114: Review of Online Gerontology Courses

I didn’t realize that our blog posts are about the coming week’s reading until last week, so I have been writing reflections after class in previous four weeks! As we did that in our Preparing Future Professoriate class…so I guess I am a victim of rigid thinking that I gained from so many years of education.

This  weeks’ readings are really interesting. I agree with both Robert Talbert about the four good aspects of lectures and Mark Carnes about active learning. From the video “Digital Medias: New Learners in the 21 Century”, we can see that  students in current generation have more opportunities and more access to use technologies like cellphones, laptops and internet and these rapid developing technologies have high impact in their daily lives. For instance, due to the advancement of information and computer technology, online courses are being developed and implemented by many higher education institutions, with a wide variety of methods under development for different academic field. As part of future educators, we should keep ourselves updated about the changes. I have taught gerontology course online for several times, but I want to learn more about current online teaching strategies that can promote active learning, so I read previous research that talked about online gerontology courses.

Online educational courses are relatively new for many residential colleges or universities, and are often offered to supplement or directly replicate classroom-based courses in their content and structure. The majority of online gerontology courses are adaptations of existing curriculums into the online format while retaining adherence to pre-existing course syllabus and procedures, student online learning strategies may be negatively impacted or ineffectively motivated (Carrillo, & Renold, 2000; Henke, 2000). In order to determine the impact of online gerontology courses and inform the potential development of gerontology-specific online course methodologies, several studies have been conducted to explore the implementation of concepts specific to gerontology. For instance, Barrett and Pai (2008) discuss the strategy of teaching ageism through an online gerontology course. The researchers evaluated the strategy of using portrait of older adults created by students as a method to stimulate discussion about ageism in an online forum. Although this exercise received positive feedback from students, the authors found that the portrait exercise, along with other techniques of teaching gerontology concepts adapted from standard classroom exercises, fulfilled the necessary role in stimulating discussion for their online course. However, these teaching strategies were insufficient towards the goal of fostering a better conceptual understanding than would result from classroom-based instruction.

These findings reinforced the earlier observations of Carrillo and Renold (2000) of student activity in University of Southern California’s online and traditional gerontology coursework. Carrillo and Renold (2000) emphasized on the importance of using localized contextual considerations of both students’ and instructors’ separate expectations and goals during the development of online gerontology courses. As indicated by previous researchers (Kittleson, 2009; Siegal & Kagan, 2012), a generational gap exists between millennial undergraduates’ expectations for online courses and previous undergraduates enrolled in classroom-centered coursework. Siegal and Kagan (2012) identifies three key aspects for these differences: the structure of the modern educational landscape, millennial communication patterns, and disparity between the technology backgrounds of students and their instructors. As a result of generational differences, traditional education strategies designed for use in classroom instruction, such as didactic lecture or small-group discussion, are unlikely to stimulate desired educational outcomes for millennial students enrolled in online courses (Ehlman, Moriello, Welleford, & Schuster, 2011; Haber, 2008; Henke, 2000).

While there is ample discussion of development for online-learning methodologies, there has been limited discussion for developing techniques specific to gerontological concepts and theories. So I think that will be my future research work in gerontology education.



3 thoughts on “GRAD5114: Review of Online Gerontology Courses”

  1. Hi,

    Do you happen to have any ideas about what could be done? Though it might be a bit of a loaded question, are blogs and comments a way to have meaningful interaction or are they already an example of outdated methods as some of the research describes in newer generations?

    Is it in the methods of the online experience or in the fact that education is viewed as a negative? “I have to do this” rather than “I want to do this” and this makes the classes less successful and less engaging?

    Or is it in the level of student and the actual personal interaction that some of the problem lies in larger online class sizes where a teacher becomes overwhelmed?

    I am a firm believer that when the student is ready the teacher appears, however the teacher must also have adequate and applicable materials for the students.

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