A primary goal of the Open Learning Initiative is not only to teach the content within the disciplines of our courses, but also, through the manner in which these courses are presented, to support better learning. This course incorporates some of the foremost scientific research on learning, and attempts to guide you through the material in a thoughtful fashion, incorporating data gathered by the Open Learning Initiative from students just like you, learning this subject. Data from your own learning process and feedback will help us continue to make adjustments and improvements. This data provides insight into the structure of knowledge and knowledge construction, the role of activities and feedback in courses, and techniques for accelerating student learning and improving learning gains.
Overall Course Structure
OLI Anatomy and Physiology is not your typical course. Whether you are working through the course independently or using it as a resource in a face-to-face or asynchronous course, our goal is for you to work through the course materials online in the way that is most efficient given your prior knowledge.
While you may have more flexibility than you do in a traditional course, you will also have more responsibility for your own learning. You will need to:
Plan how to work through each unit.
Determine how to use the various features of the course to help you learn.
Decide when you need to seek additional support.
Completing This Course Efficiently and Effectively
When starting an online course, most people neglect planning, opting instead to jump in and begin working. While this might seem efficient (after all, who wants to spend time planning when they could be doing?), it can ultimately be inefficient. In fact, one of the characteristics that distinguishes experts from novices is that experts spend far more time planning their approach to a task and less time actually completing it; while novices do the reverse - rushing through the planning stage and spending far more time overall.
In this course, we want to help you work as efficiently and effectively as possible, given what you already know. Some of you have already taken a course in this domain, and might already be familiar with some of the terminology and concepts. Depending on how this course is being used within a curriculum, you may not need to work through all of the activities in the course; just enough to make sure that you've "got it." For others, if this is your first exposure to the anatomy and physiology, you will want to do more of the activities, since you are learning these concepts for the first time. It may feel as if you are learning a new language, and in some ways you are. You might start off feeling that you have to memorize a lot of new structures and terms for anatomy. But as with any new language, over time and with practice you will begin to understand the meanings of words and can focus on their context rather than a single definition. There will be some specific activities and useful study tools that can help you become comfortable communicating and thinking in this language. As you master the language, you will be better able to apply that understanding to the complex physiological processes. This synthesis and integration of your growing knowledge base will be presented in other activities and require use of other kinds of organizational study tools.
Improving your planning skills as you work through the material in the course will help you to become a more strategic and thoughtful learner and will enable you to more effectively plan your approach to assignments, exams and projects in other courses.
Research has shown that students who invest in metacognitive activities improve their own learning. For this reason, the OLI courses are designed with metacognition as a guide. In this module, you will be introduced to the metacognitive cycle.
This idea of planning your approach to the course before you start is called Metacognition.
Metacognition, or “thinking about thinking,” refers to your awareness of yourself as a learner and your ability to regulate your own learning.
Metacognition involves five distinct skills:
Assess the task—Get a handle on what is involved in completing a task (the steps or components required for success) and any constraints (time, resources).
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses—Evaluate your own skills and knowledge in relation to a task.
Plan an approach—Take into account your assessment of the task and your evaluation of your own strengths and weaknesses in order to devise an appropriate plan.
Apply strategies and monitor your performance—Continually monitor your progress as you are working on a task, comparing where you are to the goal you want to achieve.
Reflect and adjust if needed—Look back on what worked and what didn't work so that you can adjust your approach next time and, if needed, start the cycle again.
These five skills are applied over and over again in a cycle—within the same course as well as from one course to another. Mouseover each skill in the picture below for a more explicit definition.
The following sections give you experience in working through the metacognitive cycle as it applies to this anatomy and physiology CC-OLI course.
You will learn how to:
Use the Learning Objectives to guide your focus as you move through explanatory content (text, images, audio and animations) and complete the various activities and assessments
Evaluate existing knowledge and possible misconceptions in regard to the learning objectives
Complete activities and assessments successfully to indicate mastery of the objective
Evaluate performance on activities and assessments to monitor your achievement of the objective
Revise your study methods to improve your performance on activities and assessments so that you achieve the learning objective and thus meet the success criteria
Engaging in the full cycle of metacognitive processes as you move through this course will improve your understanding and retention of the material.