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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

I just had the most interesting eight weeks…

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In the summer of 2006 my institution decided that it would change it’s LMS from Blackboard to Angel. This change was also coupled with the fact that I needed to work with a number of new adjuncts recruited from around the country to design and teach online courses. These opportunities required that I spend the fall learning Angel, developing tutorials, and defining strategies for training adjuncts remotely. After much thought and discussion I decided to develop an eight week course that immersed the participants in an online learning environment, required them to use the LMS tools as a learner and instructor, integrated best practices in designing learner-centered environments, and required them to develop an online course. To assure that I got as much mileage as possible out of the course, enrollment was opened to administrators, fulltime faculty and adjuncts. The course consisted of the following modules:

  • Week 1 – Getting Started – the goal of this session is to gain an understanding of the Angel system and to start an online dialog.
  • Week 2 – Developing Course Content – the goal of this session it to step through the process of planning and organizing online courses
  • Week 3 – Developing Course Content – the goal of this session is to explore techniques for designing effective online instructional units.
  • Week 4 – Role of Interactivity and Student Engagement – the goal of this session is to discuss the role that interactivity and student engagement plays in the effective design and delivery of online courses, and the role of instructors as facilitators of online learning
  • Week 5 – Incorporating Interactive Content – the goal of this session is to find, review, and evaluate various sources of interactive content and discuss how such items can be incorporated into online course offerings
  • Week 6 – Online Course Management – the goal of this session is to explore content delivery methods and course management tools/techniques
  • Week 7 – Using the Gradebook and Quiz Functions – the goal of this session is to discuss assessment methods and how to incorporate the Angel gradebook and quizzes into your online course
  • Week 8 – Course Review and Assessment – the goal of this session is to focus on the review/evaluation cycle of course design

Spring 2007 two sections of the tutorial ran with a total of 32 adjuncts, fulltime faculty, administrators. All of the administrators and all but two of the fulltime faculty dropped the course within the first three weeks because of the time commitment required to complete the course. The 18 individuals that completed the tutorial provided a very rich dialog, shared classroom practices, and created some interesting online courses.

The first week we had a little ice breaker activity where we played “three truths and lie” in the discussion room. This very simple activity broke down a number of barriers while exposing the learners to a number of the LMS tool while the stakes were very low.

We had other discussions throughout to tutorial but one of the most interesting was one titled “Were you ready” which centered on the following.

Palloff and Pratt (2001) believe that “not all faculty are suited for the online environment and that ‘faculty cannot be expected to know intuitively how to design and deliver an effective online course’ because they have not been exposed to techniques and methods needed to make online work successfully.”

One of the common threads in this discussion was that the learners felt that being required to participate in an online course, learn a new LMS, master new concepts, and deliver a tangible product in a prescribed period of time gave them a great appreciation for their students would be expected to do. In many cases it caused the learners to change the design of their online offerings.

Even though the course had a large attrition rate in the beginning, the individuals that persevered gained a great deal from their peers and the content. … I will be offering this course several more times over the next few terms.

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This entry was posted on March 13, 2007 by in Instructional Design.

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