Online courses need to be strangely familiar for instructor buy-in

This information may be strangely familiar to you, and it might be able to help you develop online courses or help others develop their online courses. In the book Who Can You Trust (2017), the author Rachel Botsman dedicates a chapter to the phenomenon of the “strangely familiar” to sell products, services, and ideas. As Learning Designers and Developers we are selling ideas to instructors and the connection with Botsman’s ideas was pretty clear: Sell the idea that online courses will be very similar to in-class courses, but with “the familiar done differently” (p. 62).

Approaching the transition to online by applying the strangely familiar approach may help instructors feel more accepting of the medium and embrace the ideas with less anxiety. For example, how did the U.S., a meat eating nation, start eating raw fish in Japanese restaurants? The avocado, cucumber and rice were strangely familiar served with the unfamiliar raw fish. How were so many people studied comfortable in a self-driving Tesla? It was like they were the passenger, so the experience is strangely familiar. How can experienced in-class instructors embrace online learning? By using the same method, point out that the activities will be strangely familiar with what they are comfortable with. Make a clear connection between their online content and in-class content. Are they lecturers who pause to ask comprehension checks? Then have them create 5-minute mini lesson videos followed by a comprehension check. For those instructors who promote active and experiential learning in the classroom, such as a jigsaw exercise, have them promote their students to instructors for a week and get them to teach the lesson. See, it’s not that much different.

By using this approach, making it obvious to instructors who are new to online learning that their online courses will be nothing too new for them may lead to less anxiety and reluctance and a smoother leap of faith.

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