New Roles of Instructors and Students in
Blended and Fully Online Learning
Curt Bonk, Indiana University
What is happening in
New Roles for Instructors
Berge Collins Associates
Mauri Collins and Zane L. Berge
New Instructor Roles Online?
• Make learning activities relevant
• Vary your instructional approaches & activities
• Provide immediate feedback
• Build conflict and tension
• Task structure with clear deadlines
• Give students choice in activities
• Creating an open and flexible learning
Study of Four Classes
(Bonk, Kirkley, Hara, & Dennen, 2001)
• Technical—Train, early tasks, be flexible,
• Managerial—Initial meeting, FAQs, detailed
syllabus, calendar, post administrivia, assign
e-mail pals, gradebooks, email updates
• Pedagogical—Peer feedback, debates, PBL,
cases, structured controversy, field
reflections, portfolios, teams, inquiry,
• Social—Café, humor, interactivity, profiles,
foreign guests, digital pics, conversations,
Main Role: E-Moderator
• Refers to online teaching and facilitation role.
Moderating used to mean to preside over a
meeting or a discussion, but in the electronic
world, it means more than that. It is all roles
combined—to hold meetings, to encourage, to
provide information, to question, to summarize,
etc. (Collins & Berge, 1997; Gilly Salmon, 2000);
Personal Learning Trainer
• Learners need a personal
trainer to lead them
through materials and
relevant materials and
advisors and ways to
move forward (Mason,
1998; Salmon, 2000).
• While one hopes you will not call
yourself this nor find the need to
make laws and enforce them, you will
need some Code of Practice or set
procedures, and protocols for e-
moderators (Gilly Salmon, 2000).
• Weaver—linking comments/threads
• Tutor—individualized attention
• Participant—joint learner
• Provocateur—stir the pot (& calm flames)
• Observer—watch ideas and events unfold
• Mentor—personally apprentice students
• Community Organizer—keep system going
Still More Hats
Devil‟s advocate Helper
Online Mentoring and
Twelve forms of electronic learning
mentoring and assistance
(Bonk & Kim, 1998; Tharp, 1993; Bonk et al., 2001)
1. Social (and cognitive)
Acknowledgement: "Hello...," "I
agree with everything said so far...,"
"Wow, what a case," "This case
certainly has provoked a lot of
discussion...," "Glad you could join
5. Feedback/Praise: "Wow, I'm
impressed...," "That shows real
insight into...," "Are you sure you
have considered...," "Thanks for
responding to „X‟...," "I have yet to see
you or anyone mention..."
6. Cognitive Task Structuring: "You
know, the task asks you to do...," "Ok,
as was required, you should now
summarize the peer responses that you
have received...," "How might the
textbook authors have solved this
How get to instructors to adopt?
1. Sponsor conferences, lunches, tech
2. Provide technical support
3. Showcase effective ideas (mini conference)
4. Small pockets of money, recognize in annual
merit, or other award systems
5. Instructor of the month spotlight
6. Peer mentoring programs
7. Laptop programs
8. Staff development, send to conferences
What About Student
New Student Roles Online?
• Student, colleague, teacher, evaluator, group
leader, synthesizer, resource finder, etc…
• Present to peers instead of listen to lectures
• Keep in touch with instructor and peers
• Take ownership over material
• Need to pace self
• Self-assessment of work
• Select tasks, explore Web
Role 1: Starter/Mediator
• Summarizes the key terms, ideas, and
issues in the chapters, supplemental
instructor notes, journal articles, and other
assigned readings and asks thought
provoking questions typically before one‟s
peers read or discuss the concepts and
ideas. In effect, he/she points out what to
expect in the upcoming readings or
activities. Once the “start” is posted, this
student acts as a mediator or facilitator of
discussion for the week.
Role 2: Wrapper/Summarizer
• Connects ideas, synthesizes discussion,
interrelates comments, and links both explicit and
implicit ideas posed in online discussion or other
activities. The learner looks for themes in online
coursework while weaving information together.
The wrapping or summarizing is done at least at
the end of the week or unit, but preferably two or
more times depending on the length of activity.
Role 3: Conqueror or
• Takes ideas into action, debates with
others, persists in arguments and never
surrenders or compromises nomatter
what the casualties are when addressing
any problem or issue.
Role 4: Devil's Advocate or
• Takes opposite points of view for the
sake of an argument and is an
antagonist when addressing any
problem posed. This might be a weekly
role that is secretly assigned.
Role 5: Idea
• Squelches good and bad ideas of others
and submits your own prejudiced or
biased ideas during online discussions
and other situations. Forces others to
think. Is that person you really hate to
Role 6: Optimist/Open-
• In this role, the student notes what
appears to be feasible, profitable,
ideal, and "sunny" ideas when
addressing this problem. Always sees
the bright or positive side of the
Role 7: Emotional/Sensitive/Intuitive
• Comments with the fire and warmth
of emotions, feelings, hunches, and
intuitions when interacting with
others, posting comments, or
Role 8: Idea Generator Creative
• Brings endless energy to
online conversations and
generates lots of fresh ideas
and new perspectives to the
conference when addressing
issues and problems.
Role 9: Questioner/Ponderer/Protester
• Role is to question, ponder,
and protest the ideas of others
and the problem presented
itself. Might assume a radical
or ultra-liberal tone.
Role 10: Coach
• Offers hints, clues, supports, and
highly motivational speeches to get
everyone fired-up or at least one lost
individual back on track when
addressing a problem or situation.
Role 11: Controller/Executive
• In this role, the student oversees
the process, reports overall
findings and opinions, and
attempts to control the flow of
suggestions, and general
Role 12: Slacker/Slough/Slug/Surfer
• In this role, the student does little or nothing
to help him/herself or his/her peers learn.
Here, one can only sit back quietly and
listen, make others do all the work for you,
and generally have a laid back attitude (i.e.,
go to the beach) when addressing this
Sample Synchronous and
(David Brown, Syllabus, January 2002,
p. 23; October 2001, p. 18)
Sample Asynchronous Activities
1. Social Ice Breakers: intros, favorite Web sites
2. Learner-Content Interactions: self-testing
3. Scenario-Based Simulations
4. Starter-Wrapper Discussion
5. Anonymous Suggestion Box
6. Role Play: Assume the Persona of a Scholar
7. Online Experiments and Demonstrations
8. Case-Based Learning
1. Social Ice Breakers
a. Introductions: require not only that
students introduce themselves, but also
that they find and respond to two
classmates who have something in
common (Serves dual purpose of setting
tone and having students learn to use the
b. Favorite Web Site: Have students post the
URL of a favorite Web site or URL with personal
information and explain why they choose that one.
2. Learner-Content Interactions: Self-
3. Scenario-Based Simulations
4. Discussion: Starter-Wrapper
(Hara, Bonk, & Angeli, 2000)
1. Starter reads ahead and starts discussion and others
participate and wrapper summarizes what was
2. Start-wrapper with roles--same as #1 but include roles for
debate (optimist, pessimist, devil's advocate).
Instead of starting discussion, student acts as moderator or
questioner to push student thinking and give feedback
5. Formative Feedback
Anonymous Suggestion Box
George Watson, Univ of Delaware, Electricity
and Electronics for Engineers:
1. Students send anonymous course feedback (Web
forms or email)
2. Submission box is password protected
3. Instructor decides how to respond
4. Then provide response and most or all of suggestion
in online forum
5. It defuses difficult issues, airs instructor views, and
justified actions publicly.
6. Caution: If you are disturbed by criticism, perhaps do
6. Role Play
A. Assume Persona of Scholar
– Enroll famous people in your course
– Students assume voice of that person
for one or more sessions
– Enter debate topic or Respond to
– Respond to reading reflections of
others or react to own
7. Online Co-laborative Psych Experiments
(University of Mississippi)
Contains 30 free psych
• Location independent
• Convenient to instructors
• Run experiments over
large number of subjects
• Can build on it over time
Ken McGraw, Syllabus,
8. Case-Based Learning: Student Cases
1. Model how to write a case
2. Practice answering cases.
3. Generate 2-3 cases during semester based on
4. Link to the text material—relate to how how text
author or instructor might solve.
5. Respond to 6-8 peer cases.
6. Summarize the discussion in your case and
a peer case.
(Note: method akin to storytelling)
1. Webinar, Webcast
2. Synchronous Testing and
3. Sync Guests or Expert
4. Threaded Discussion Plus
5. Collaborative Online
6. Online Mentoring
2. Synchronous Testing & Assessment
(Giving Exams in the Chat Room!, Janet Marta, NW Missouri
State Univ, Syllabus, January 2002)
1. Post times when will be available for 30
minute slots, first come, first serve.
2. Give 10-12 big theoretical questions to
3. Tell can skip one.
4. Assessment will be a dialogue.
5. Get them there 1-2 minutes early.
6. Have hit enter every 2-3 sentences.
7. Ask q‟s, redirect, push for clarity, etc.
8. Covers about 3 questions in 30 minutes.
3. Electronic Guests & Mentoring
4. Threaded Discussion plus Expert
Chat (e.g., Starter-Wrapper + Sync Guest Chat)
5. Collaborative Online Writing:
Peer-to-Peer Document Collaboration
6. Online Mentoring
Blended Learning Ideas
(Margaret Driscoll, March 2002, e-learning Magazine, p. 54)
• Put assessment online
• Put threaded discussions (community) online
• Make reference materials available for depth
• Deliver preclass materials electronically
• Provide online office hours
• Extend class with an online coach or mentor
• Life discussions with experts
• Create a lifeline for learners outside of class
• Use email and messaging
Hold Online Discussions/Community
More Blended Ideas
• Take to lab for online group collaboration.
• Take to computer lab for Web search.
• Take to an electronic conference.
• Put syllabus on the Web.
• Create a class computer conference.
• Require students sign up for a listserv.
• Use e-mail minute papers & e-mail admin.
• Have students do technology demos.
Posted Resources (e.g., cases, Glossary)
So What Happens to
Instructors and Students
in the Future???
“We are evolving out of the era of the Lone
Rangers…faculty members can choose to
be involved in the design, development,
content expertise, delivery, or distribution
of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)
Sarah Carr, (Dec 15, 2000, A47), A Day in the Life of a New Type of Professor,
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Track 1: Technical Specialist
• Help critique technical aspects of
media and materials built into online
courses. Here one would be part of a
course development team or
instructional design unit. Freelance
learning object evaluator. Here one
would likely operate alone or as part
of a consulting company.
Track 2: Personal Guide
• Provide program or course guidance
to students on demand or
preplanned. Becomes more of a
generalist across university
offerings. For example, one might
help students see how different
learning objects or modules fit
together into a degree.
Track 3: Online Facilitator
• Offers timely and informed support
to students struggling to complete
an online course or inserting
questions and nudging development
of students who are successfully
completing different modules. This
is the most similar to college
teaching positions today.
Track 4: Course Developer
• Help develop specific courses or
topic areas for one or more
universities. In many institutions,
this will move beyond a course
royalty system to a paid position.
Track 5: Course or Program
• Supervisor or manager of an entire
new program or courses, most often
leading to certificates or master‟s
degrees. Similar in stature to a
development head or chairperson.
Track 6: Work for Hire Online
• Is a freelance instructor for one
course or a range of course. May
work on just one campus or on a
range of campuses around the world.
While this will be highly popular and
rejuvenate careers, institutional
policies are yet to be sorted out.
Track 7: High School Teacher
• As universities begin to offer
secondary degrees, some college
faculty with online teaching
experience and teaching degrees will
find positions in those classes.
Some may view such positions as
being demoted to the minor leagues.
Track 8: Unemployed
• If one does not find a niche in one
or more of the above tracks or
roles, he or she will likely be
unemployed or highly
Student Differences in 2020
• Live Longer
• More Educated
– Multiple Degrees
– Accustomed to Multiple Learning Formats
– Design own programs and courses
• Specialists AND Generalists
• Courses/Degrees for unknown occupations
• Expect to Take Courses Where Live
• Cyber-students (various digital aids attached to
Possible Scenarios in Year 2020
• Virtual U‟s and Traditional U‟s Coexist
• Traditional Univ‟s buy stake in Virtual U‟s
• Traditional Univ‟s form Consortia
• Some Trad U‟s Move Ahead, Some Don‟t
• Other Technology arise well beyond Web
• Large Virtual U‟s Buy Competing Traditional
U‟s and shut them down
What Uses for Old Institutions of
• Historical Monuments
• Bomb Shelters
• Resorts and Apartment Complexes
• Nostalgic Retirement Homes
• Green Space
Some Final Advice…
Or Maybe Some Questions???