It’s the final week and all is well. I feel much more confident in my abilities in Instructional Design, and ready to start putting these skills to work. I have a check list at hand to begin making small but immediate changes to my existing online courses for professional development. Now that this course is over, I can start to make some of these small changes to benefit the learners I currently serve, and continue to work on the Historical Fiction Course in my spare time.
The very first thing I am going to do actually came from the reading this week. I am going to create a spreadsheet of links for each of my courses, and use a Script in Google Sheets to auto check the URLs. This is going to revolutionize how I check my courses for dead links and save me tons of time!This course was another whirlwind of skills and knowledge, and as always, it has been fun to connect and share ideas with a world of professionals in the field!
I enjoyed exploring Universal Design for Learning this week. The idea that there are steps we can take to make our courses more accessible for those with special needs is nothing new to me, but that those enhancements may benefit all learners in the course was something that didn’t really occur to me. From the day I started web design, it was ingrained in me to provide alt tags for images and tables to address W3C compliance, so that was old hat, and I knew that I needed to provide a transcript of any video or audio recordings for compliance. It should have occurred to me much sooner that even those little things would be beneficial to all learners, considering I am not one who learns well from audio or video, and I would much prefer to read. I really like the concept of UDL, and will strive to ensure that I meet more of the checkpoints as I continue to adapt and develop courses.
I am most excited by the Glossary of Instructional Strategies at http://www.beesburg.com/edtools/glossary.html. I can’t wait to have more time to read through the strategies and incorporate more of them in to my courses.
The rubrics for quality online instruction were particularly interesting to examine this week. With this being my final course in the eLearning Certification (before the internship) it was not surprising that my course was in pretty good shape when put to the rubrics. Clearly this program is well aligned with best practices in Online Teaching and Learning, and that made me really thankful. I have bookmarked and downloaded all 4 rubrics provided, and will be sure to consult them as I continue my work in online teaching and learning.
I am finding that I had already naturally broken my materials into chunks, with “lecture materials” and then an activity of some sort after each natural “break” in content. I am also finding that many of the introductions for chunks were there, and good (in my opinion) but that the transition from one chunk to another was not always there.
We also looked are ready-made content this week (Reusable Learning Objects, Open Education Repositories and the like). I love the idea of ready made content, but I never have much luck finding things I would use in my courses. I’m not sure if that’s because I am too picky, or if the types of things I want are just not available. Much of what is available focuses more on Math and Science, with the Humanities somewhat neglected. This has changed considerably in the last few years, but what is available is still weak. Could it be because the humanities do not lend themselves as easily to reusable objects? Some of the articles I found this week talk about what makes something really reusable, and they focus on the fact that it should be context neutral. I feel like English in particular is not always easy to remove the context from.
On another note, I played with and created an InfoGraphic, which now appears on my Syllabus page. It was interesting to lay out in images what was already spelled out in the Graphic Syllabus.
Having never had any real training in how to write a syllabus, I was pretty excited to see that I had hit on many of Sinor and Kaplan’s suggestions in my original written syllabus. And while I think that the written syllabus is still absolutely necessary to set the tone and expectations, I also had a lot of fun experimenting with a graphic syllabus.
I tried to take the ideas of everyone we read because they all offered something that peaked my interest. What I came away with was a great map of my course, that drilled down to the main objectives for each module, and could probably be further broken down with enabling objectives. I really did enjoy the process of going back and forth between building the Learning Guides and then creating the corresponding part of the graphic syllabus.Part of me really wants to make an InfoGraphic about the different types of activities students will engage in. I suppose I will have to see what kind of time I have on my hands in the coming weeks!
I was having some difficulty this week with creating Connect activities. To me, it seems that there are some things that just don’t have a connect activity. Perhaps I just need to think more outside the box. I am also having some difficulty with Do vs Connect. I feel that some Connect activities are also Do activities, and vice versa (later confirmed by Dr. Manning, which made me feel a whole lot better!). Every time I think I have it down, I confuse myself again. I understand that Do means practice, but for many of the topics I cover, I am teaching the skill, so even the connect type activities involve practicing the skills learned. It's good to know there is a cross over between these types of activities.
I was also struggling with the ideas presented by Oblinger (Oblinger, D. (n.d.). Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials: Understanding the "New Students" Educause. Retrieved June 22, 2014, from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0342.pdf) Based on the article, I fall into the Gen-Xers, yet I don’t feel that I share the same “qualities” as they do. I then took the “how Millennial are you” quiz, and see that I fall pretty clearly in the Millennial category. (http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/results/) I think it’s interesting to try to categorize people by generation, particularly when it comes to using technology. I know many much older adults who would probably score pretty high as millennials. This was brought up in the discussion forum as well, and how trying to put people in a box may be detrimental to everyone involved.
I find myself frustrated this week that I do not have enough time to completely revamp my course right now! The ideas presented about types of assessment really make me want to dig deeper into how I evaluate the work of my students.
I found myself defending rubrics in the discussion, but also, defending tests and quizzes in my own mind. The readings really made me question the party line “tests are bad, only authentic assessment” that I had come to accept. Sometimes, there really is a place for assessment using tests and quizzes, and I am glad to have been exposed to Grant Wiggins' ideas about using tests in online learning. As a worked on form 6.3 and laid out possible assessments for the learning objectives, I found myself consciously looking at how often I had been assessing privately, and how often I had been doing so publicly (dropbox vs discussions for example). It was interesting to see my thinking when I first developed the course, in that I tried to balance the two without even knowing truly proper online course design.
It was really interesting for me to skim through my course and look at what I had students doing, and then really determine what the objectives and goals should be for each module. I found a lot of extraneous activities that I had put in different modules, and I will have to closely examine them to see if they truly help learners achieve the ultimate objectives, or if I used them as filler.
I also found it interesting that in the two articles I found about designing accelerated courses, they stress the importance of engagement, hands on and practical application, exactly the same things should apply to any course design! I took the stand in the discussion that abbreviated courses should be abbreviated in length only, not concepts and content. I don’t know if my opinion was particularly popular, but to me, no matter how long the course, I think the same concepts and content should be delivered. I don’t take an 8 week course because it’s “easier” I take it because it fits better in to my life. If I thought I would get less out of it, I probably would opt for the 16 week course.
As with every course, I learn more and more that I need to do to create the best learning experience for my students. This weeks readings focused on making learning student centered, and on approaching instructional design in an organized fashion. I know that my courses all need a redesign, but in this program I have been focusing on my historical fiction course, so that will continue to be my focus. Form 3 helped me to narrow in on what I think needs work in my course, so that if nothing else, I can focus on those areas. I absolutely need to look at each learning experience and make sure that I am providing the content, showing them how to use it, allowing them to practice, and then having them apply it in a “real-world” scenario.
Another take away this week was to develop learning guides as a way to organize myself and my students. I have previously offered a checklist to students of what they need to do in each module, but a focused learning guide will be so much more beneficial for all of us! I’m really excited to give these a try.
1-8 of 8