Week 10 and Blog Wrap-Up

The last week of the course is here and I am busily working on my last assignment.  I’ve been reflecting on this blog that I’ve created over the past nine weeks.  Overall, I’m very satisfied with the blog I have created over the duration of this course. It contains carefully selected resources and reflective comments that I know I will refer to when I build my online courses. I admit I was initially wary about setting up a blog for this course. I had never blogged before and had never followed other people’s blogs, so I questioned how useful this tool would be. When first creating my blog I wondered why would other people be interested in reading about my journey. However, I realized that the blog was not a tool for others to use, it was a tool for me. With that in mind, I was able to create a blog based on my preferences, resources of choice, and personal thoughts that I wanted to record. Therefore, the ultimate goal of creating the blog has been met: I’ve created a tool that will help me develop my online course in EDUC 4152. The blog posts are organized into categories so I can easily go back and find particular posts. I initially set up the blog to be organized by the type of resource, e.g. links to webpages, video and audio clips, book references, etc. I chose to set it up this way because I thought this is how I would search for the resources and posts. I quickly found out that this was an inefficient system so I took on the task of re-categorizing the entire blog about halfway through the course. I changed the categories from the type of resource to the subject matter, e.g. General eLearning Resources, Technology and Social Media Resources, Adult Learning & Andragogy Resources, and so on. I was extremely pleased with the new organizational system and have since found it much easier to search for past posts and resources.  I hope to continue contributing to this blog in the future!

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How My Thinking Has Changed

At the beginning of the EDUC 4151 course, we were asked to post five practical considerations for taking a face to face course and putting it online.  My five were as follows:

1. Clear criteria and time for activities

2. Frequent and timely communication with instructor

3. User-friendly and well-organized

4. Diversity of media

5. Interaction among learners

Now at week 9 of the course we were asked to post three practical considerations for setting up an online course (a similar question).  My three were as follows:

1. Nature of technology (ease/reliability/accessibility)

2. Relationship between technology and learning objectives

3. Logical organization

It was definitely interesting to look back at the five statements from week one versus the three statements from this week.  One of my five appeared again this week, being that the course must be well-organized and easy to navigate.  Other than that, my focus has shifted from instructional methods to the technology itself (and how that technology can be used effectively).  Interesting trend!  This means that I have moved beyond the basic course design and am more involved with the technology and the role it plays in learning.

Less Than 2 Weeks to Go

After a busy weekend of moving, I am surprised to realize that there are less than 2 weeks left in the EDUC 4151 course.  Despite being a bit behind on the final project, I am starting to get into it more deeply.  In these early stages of my online course development training, I am definitely feeling shaky about my abilities to actually pull an effective module together.  My approach is to put myself in my learner’s shoes and think about what technology would help me learn best, and what would simply be distracting or otherwise ineffective.  My learners are typically not tech-savvy and I don’t want the learning objective to be overshadowed by the technology.  I think I need to start simple and see how it goes, and I can always add more complex technology in the future if it fits.  The SECTIONS model is quite helpful in pinpointing why I will choose to use particular features in my online course, and why I wouldn’t choose to use others.

All in all, it will be a busy and hopefully productive 10 days to complete this course!

3 Weeks To Go!

Much to my dismay, there are only three weeks left in the EDUC 4151 course.  That actually makes me feel sad – I want it to keep going!  I’m learning lots and enjoying the experience, plus I’ve somehow been able to fit it into my busy schedule.  I’m looking forward to the last module of the course though.  It will be a real test to develop a course module and write a rationale to explain the decisions that are made.  It’s a great preparatory exercise for the next EDUC 4152 course where we will be fully developing an online course.  I feel like I’m taking baby steps in the right direction, and creating a full online course won’t seem as daunting if I start with one small piece.  Looking forward to working on it!

Starting Week 7

I am now deep in the EDUC 4151 course but I can also see that the end is in sight.  I really enjoyed the unit on Community, but the topic of Assessment also interests me.  When I took the Assessment course in the PIDP program, I loved learning about the different considerations when building assessment instruments and the different types of instruments that are available.  The concept of alignment was new to me then, but it makes sense that the curriculum, instruction, and assessment should all be closely aligned.  I also enjoyed learning about validity and reliability – though they are both related concepts, they emphasize slightly different aspects of effective assessment tools.

I am currently working my way through the readings from the Assessment unit and I hope to start working on my activity this evening.  It sounds like a great activity that will be applicable to the EDUC 4152 course as well as my own teaching.

Online Community-Building

Below is a list of practices I would like to incorporate into future online courses in order to build a stronger learning community.  This list represents practices that are currently not part of my online courses.

– Ask colleagues to test my course website prior to launch and assess ease of navigation and function of technology.

– Include ice-breaking activities beyond the basic biography forum.

– Provide students with information about institutional and other resources.

– Include a general netiquette document in the first week of the course.

– Include guidelines for participation determined by students.

– Add a social Water Cooler discussion area.

– Incorporate more opportunities for synchronous communication, including office hours.

– Use weekly videos to update students about the course.

– Incorporate a formative survey partway through each course.

– Use more Screencasts to explain difficult or visual concepts.

– Add some flexibility in assignments.

– Account for gender differences when building the course activities.

– Include guidelines for ethical standards in the course.

Halfway Through!

It’s hard to believe it, but I’m now halfway through the EDUC 4151 course.  It’s gone by quick, as these courses often do.  I’ve been pretty good about time management so far, considering this is a very busy time of year for me.  The next two weeks are extra busy so I’ll have to be careful about scheduling in some study time.

One major task I completed over the past week was re-organizing my blog.  I originally had my blog organized by type of resource (e.g. book, website, etc.) and I wasn’t finding this terribly helpful in looking up past posts.  Instead, I took on the tedious task of creating new categories and re-filing all of my posts.  I’ve decided to group resources that share a common theme (e.g. technology information, group work tips, etc.).  This makes a lot more sense to me and I’m glad I did it before my blog got too full.

Onto week 6!