Meaningful learning “may be described as learning that has value, purpose, and significance…[and] is grounded in a constructivist perspective” (Dabbagh et. al., 2019, p. 7). Learning is intentional, designed to encourage deep thinking through the completion of activities and tasks (Johnson et. al., 2017). While many faculty in Spring 2020 used online learning as a triage method of simply dumping their content online and lecturing in a webcast, instructional designers have a duty to provide quality courses in all learning platforms.
Instructional designers must be cognizant of all learners using the courseware, including the ethical, legal, and pollical consequences involved. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a system in which multiple means of student "engagement, representation, and action and expression” are considered (Boothe et. al., 2020, p. 1). Instructional designers must implement the legal obligation of providing accessible content in an ethical manner by making the material available to all without stigma.
Learning activities, like technology, cannot be randomly assigned within a course as a matter of checkboxes. Instead, these activities must provide value to the learning process. In my position at the University of South Carolina – Upstate, we encourage the use of meaningful learning at every opportunity that we have with the faculty. I work with the faculty to not only consider adding activities into their courses but to explore the best manner in which to add the content and how to achieve optimal results from the task. The faculty then often have their own “aha!” moments as they see the way they can link their lessons into meaningful, intentional ways online.
Boothe, K. A., Lohmann, M. J., & Owiny, R. (2020). Enhancing student learning in the online instructional environment through the use of Universal Design for Learning. Networks: An Online Journal for Teacher Research, 22(1).
Dabbagh, N., Marra, R. M., & Howland, J. L. (2019). Meaningful online learning: Integrating strategies, activities, and learning technologies for effective designs. Routledge.
Johnson, C., Hill, L., Lock, J., Altowairiki, N., Ostrowski, C., da Rosa dos Santos, L., & Liu, Y. (2017). Using design-based research to develop meaningful online discussions in undergraduate field experience courses International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(6).