Roles of Instructors and Learners

Online learning requires a shift from a teacher-centered to student-centered environment where the instructor must take on multiple new roles. The constructivist theory that supports asynchronous learning demands that instructors become more than dispensers of knowledge; it requires that they become instructional designers, facilitators, and assessors of both grades and their teaching methods.

As instructional designers, emphasis is placed on establishing the curriculum, methods and the media through which the content will be effectively delivered. Once the design is in place and executed, the instructor must then facilitate the communication and direct the learning. Establishing a communal spirit is vital, requiring much time commitment from the instructor, who must spend time reading, assessing, reinforcing, and encouraging the interaction and learning that is happening.

The student-centered nature of asynchronous online learning requires students to be actively involved with and take more responsibility for their own learning. In addition to their normal duties as learners, students are required to:

    become proficient with the technology required for the course;
    use new methods of communication with both peers and instructors;
    strengthen their interdependency through collaboration with their peers/