Posts Tagged ‘instructional design’

Online Course Design

December 1, 2017

Theo_van_Doesburg_Composition_VII_(the_three_graces)As the resident online learning expert of my team I’ve been asked to create an intake form/document with essential questions to ask clients when they approach us to design an online course.  Looking through my books and internet resources I did not find any comprehensive form or guide to fit our needs. So I went about creating one on my own and then receiving additional input from two of my teammates.  The resulting document is here for you to use and adapt for your own needs.

You’ll notice that the information we seek is both nominative and design related.  We separated them in to categories so that clients could see the overall logic of our questions.  There are also practical questions relating to ownership, timeline(s) and roles/responsibilities.

One important thing we learned in the process of working with a recent client is to give them this document to peruse ahead of time, otherwise it is overwhelming to answer all of them in an intake interview.  We also let the client know that we didn’t need answers to everything right away since it is a process and development of a course takes time.

I’m sure this document will change with practice over time and if you’re involved with online course design I welcome your comments on it.

Top 5 Takeaways from CBOL 2017

May 12, 2017

CBOL 2017 logoAfter attending any conference I try to share my top takeaways.  Here are my top five from the Conference on Blended and Online Learning (CBOL)  held this year in Colorado.

1.  Personalized Learning in Jefferson County:  Students have control over the pace and path of their learning in the Virtual Academy.  Despite it’s name implying a 100% online experience, there are face-to-face days with tutoring, guidance and enrichment.  This makes me think that the metastudy done years ago by the Department of Education is still valid-Blended (hybrid) course delivery is the best of both worlds.

2.  DIY Personalized PD discoveries: The smartest person in the room is the room (crowdsourcing, leveraging everyone as experts).   The best PD is developed by teachers for teachers.  Take a look at their presentation here.   During this hands-on, group-sourced session, we came up with these ideas.  Besides this being an engaging session and producing group notes and artifacts, I loved the fact that they walked the talk.  I don’t know why more PD sessions don’t leverage google docs for collaborative notes.

 
3.  From that session, I proposed this metaphor to describe personalized learning:  Drinking from a water fountain as opposed to a firehose:  water fountain personalized learning metaphorI think the metaphor works pretty well.

4.  Becky Nusbaum gave a captivating, interactive presentation where she both showed how Twitter could be used to cultivate PLN (Personal Learning Network)s for teachers, while at the same time we tweeted to each other and added ideas to the session.  I thought that this was a good way to have participants dive right in to the tool being discussed.  Two good resources she shared were  Twitter for Teachers, Chatting and Best Practices  and the Directory of Ed Chats.  It’s on my to-do list to develop a workshop for teachers on developing PLNs.

5.  The keynote speaker, Tom Vander Ark, shared his 18 tips for student-centered learning.  Tom talked about many of these tips as “must do’s” such as: Every student should work on publicly publishing something (as a team) HS level.  Every student should have work-based learning…work-study at Christo Rey for an example.  “High school kids can change the world right here right now.  Let’s give them the skills to live and succeed in this complex world.”   These are powerful ideas and his enthusiasm for them is contagious.   Here is a link to his presentation.  I highly recommend looking at his list.

2016 ATD Conference Top 5 Sessions

September 16, 2016

yjyxkn7iThrough the fortune of geography and the opportunity to work as a volunteer, I was able to attend the ATD Conference in Denver this past summer.  Usually I like to share my top takeaways, but because of the enormity of this conference I had to go the level of top 5 sessions, not just top 5 ideas.  Here they are, in non-ranked order.

1. Storytelling is the Secret Sauce  Doug Stevenson, author of “Story Theater Method” echoed Chip and Dan Heath when he opened with this idea: facts fade, data gets dumped, but stories stick.  I was already a believer in the power of stories to teach and move people to action but Doug taught me some new things.  First, don’t tell a story just because someone told you stories are good.  It has to be the right story, at the right time, for the right audience.  Context is king.  Secondly, as a presenter, you should pay attention to your role as an actor/performer when you step in front of an audience. Just where you stand on a stage imparts meaning.

2. Effective Virtual Training/Webinars led by David Smith, from Virtual Gurus.  David recommends Adobe Connect as the best webinar tool and I found that reassuring, since I know the strength of that software and use it almost daily.  He gave me some ideas of elements to add to my webinars such as an intro video (to be played as people enter the virtual room) that shows attendees how to use the interactive tools.  Another recommendation was to avoid using yes/no true/false questions in polls, rather just have attendees respond using the agree/disagree buttons to save time.  He strongly advises for using a producer to handle tech issues, and only using the webcam at the very beginning of a webinar to establish presence, then turning it off to avoid distractions.

3. Awesome Powerpoint Tricks by Wendy Gates Corbett & Richard Goring from BrightCarbon. This demo went at breakneck speed leaving we in the audience dazzled, yet yearning for slower paced step by step instructions.  The main concept is to create visual sequences in Powerpoint that look like detailed animations focused on clearly communicating the most important messages.  I could see how most of us could develop creative animations, given the time.

4. Using Social Media and Online Learning Communities by Daniel Jones.  Daniel gave me some new ideas such as using social media before, during and after a course. This aligns well with the concept of ongoing learning that doesn’t just start and stop within course deadlines.  He touched on ingredients to create a successful online community: finding people who want to share, have something of value that makes them want to come back to the community area, and have a community manager who keeps the discussions on point, keeping it positive, and asking questions to spark discussions.  Daniel also gave me a new idea for webinars-seeking out resident subject matter experts to share their knowledge, instead of waiting for people to approach me to host webinars, I approach them first.

5. Biology, Sociology of Learning and Leading, keynote address by Simon Sinek.  If you’d like to see him talk on this topic, check out his TED Talk here.  Simon showed how our biological chemicals-specifically endorphins, dopamines, seratonins and oxytocins-give us powerful motivators to act in certain ways.  We must be aware of these to recognize what drives us and other to action.  Another factor is the influence of others, especially leaders, on our ability to work well and persevere.  Simon believes that leadership is a choice and involves personal sacrifice.  By building trust people will follow you.  Many of these ideas seem self-evident, but he added some more that serve as a personal challenge to me:  Anyone can lead.  It’s a daily practice.  We can lead by exercising selflessness, even when no one sees you.  This sounds like a bold, strong ethical ethos that I’d like to strive toward.  In closing, he said, “I urge you to take care of each other.  If you take care of each other, I guarantee we will change the world.”  Let’s do it!

Thanks for reading.

Let me know what you think.

 

Always Have a Backup Plan

May 3, 2016

 

Leo Reynolds flcikr creative commonsLeo Reynolds Flickr CC

I’m on a committee planning a wonderful event called the Digital Educator and Personalized Learning Academy (DEPLA) to be held in June.  I volunteered to create a commercial to promote the event.

I was really excited to reach into my video production skills which were somewhat dormant.  With my coproducer Candy McGregor we developed an engaging storyboard and script.  My good camera and wireless mic were charged up and ready to go. An energetic coworker (Sarah Peterson) volunteered to act and we received permission to shoot on location at the coffee shop in the lobby of our building-which is run by older students who are learning job skills.

story arc

storyboardandscript

When we arrived to record during our lunch break, the coffee shop manager looked at our props (unusual coffee ingredients) and stated flatly that we couldn’t use them.  He said that they misrepresented what was served at the coffee shop and that people might become confused and start requesting these unusual ingredients.  (Producers Note: we deliberately chose these ingredients to bring in an unexpected element to the commercial-see Made to Stick.)

Rather than put up a fight with the manager or drop this engaging idea, I quickly shifted to plan b-the ever awaiting backup plan ingrained into my life.   We headed upstairs to a staff kitchen and quickly rewrote the script and storyboard.  Gone was the dialogue with the barista, now replaced with a monologue. A new establishing shot/sequence was created and newly found props were incorporated.  Here is the finished product:

Lessons learned:  Always have a backup plan. Always be ready for improvisation.  Work with folks who are willing to collaborate and improvise with you.

In creating a second commercial this week, we decided to build from the original video.  We used the ingredients metaphorically as Sarah read the new lines in a voiceover.  To add to the continuity (Nita would be proud of me) I shot still phoots of all the ingredients in their originally viewed bowls and re-used the tag appeal by another volunteer- Dale Downing who has an awesome announcer voice.  Here is commercial #2:

By the way, for video persons out there who might want to know, the first commerical was edited with Adobe Premiere and the second one with Camtasia.

Do you have questions or comments?  Please add to this blog or contact me directly.  THANKS!

 

Jumping In To The MOOC Pool

March 21, 2013

ImageWell, I’ve finally taken the plunge and signed up for a MOOC.  This one is offered by Coursera.  The course is on songwriting and is being taught by Pat Pattison from the Berklee School of Music.  Currently we’re in week 3 of 6 so I feel I can offer some accurate observations on the design of the course, the delivery system and my personal experience.

Here’s what you find inside the course:

Short video lectures that are no longer than 20 minutes long.  Some are as short as 1 and a half minutes in length.  The short length is a good design choice and the videos have embedded quizzes that are interspersed within-another element of good instructional design.  The videos are well produced (probably shot with at least 3 SLR cameras), edited, and have graphics added to illustrate important points. Pat, the teacher delivers the lectures in a personable way with humor, drama, stories and great examples.

Each week has graded quizzes that can be taken repeatedly as the highest mark becomes your final grade for the assessment.

Every week also has an assignment that is turned in online.  Although not called a rubric, detailed expectations for the assignment are given.  These guidelines then become the grading criteria when the assignment moves into its second phase: peer assessment.  You must grade at least 5 peers before you receive feedback on your own submission.

There is also an open social dimension to the course.  Discussion forums are setup for formative feedback on the videos, quizzes, assignments and design of the course. Students can also start their own forums and threads for interest groups, meetups and spinoff discussions.  These areas are quite active on the course page and searchable.

Bottom line, thus far: I’m finding this experience to be rewarding personally for my creative development and professionally as I see the inner workings of a MOOC and how it can be successful.  My advice to you is don’t be afraid to jump in to the MOOC pool.  The water’s fine!

Getting my COAT on

March 15, 2013

ImageThis week I completed the online course to earn a Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT).  Although it was originally designed for adjunct instructors, I believe that anyone who teaches a fully online or blended course can definitely benefit from taking this course.  Part of the value of this course is experiential.  By taking an online course you experience exactly what it is like to be an online, distance, learner.  I might go as far to say that anyone who intends to teach an online course must first take a course online to gain this invaluable perspective.

Though the COAT course for the most part focuses on facilitation there was time spent looking at pedagogy, andragogy and assessments.  The interaction with fellow students/teachers was engaging and informative.  I found that the timed pace of the course, along with grading of activities kept me focused and motivated.  The instructor/facilitator, Dr. Muse, gave us excellent modeling to follow.

It’s personally invigorating to be taking courses again(after a break of a few years).  My eyes are wide open to seeing examples of good online instructional design and effective tools.  As always, it’s good to fill in any gaps in my knowledge and keep current in the field.  Courses like these also inspire me to improve my own teaching.

If you’d like to check out the course for yourself(it is offered multiple times a year), then follow this link.  The tuition, which I think is affordable, is $300 for Maryland residents.

Creating Effective Online Discussion Boards

November 2, 2012

Earlier this week I gave a presentation to our faculty on how to create effective discussion boards online.  I thought that others could benefit from this knowledge, so I am sharing my thoughts here.  These recommendations come from personal experience as a teacher & learner, and from researching the literature.  Many have never tried discussion boards in their courses, or have tried and found the results to be unsatisfactory.  This post can help you plan and create online boards that are more successful for you and your students.

Creating Effective Discussion Boards- 

Recommendations by Paul Iwancio

Why use online discussion boards?

They keep students engaged with the material after class.

They inspire critical thinking.

It gives shy students or ESL students a chance to participate equally.

They allow for hyperlinking to outside resources.

They create gradable items for the course.

They can be low-risk assessments.

They enable  monitoring of learning/comprehension.

They can be tied to readings and research.

Preparation

Consider the purpose of the discussion and how it relates to your learning objectives.

Ask yourself-what do I want the students to be able to do?  What do I want them to understand from the material?

Focus on the most controversial, difficult, and important concepts.

Pose questions that may be provocative and spark critical thinking.

Create questions that are open-ended and elicit divergent thinking from students.

Examples of activities-web field trips, brainstorming, problem-solving, writing groups, case analysis, debates, discussion of course readings, discussion of  live or recorded presentations, research.

Examples of questions that stimulate thinking are found on page 5 of this document from the University of Oregon.

Overall, promote engagement with the material, with peers, and with the teacher.

Management

Post rules of netiquette, create a safe learning environment.

Make participation mandatory-graded with points.

Provide clear expectations to students-quality, quantity, what will be in post, length of post, level of formality, show a rubric, due dates, naming expectations.

In respect to dates, have one deadline for first post, another deadline for first response, and a closing date for the overall discussion.

Tell students how often you will be checking the board.

Assessment can be completed by the teacher and/or student peer assessment.

Encourage students to mention personal experiences, but also cite literature.

Allow posting of links and attachments if relevant.

Encourage responders to pose questions-for clarification, questioning assumptions, looking for rationale and evidence, questioning viewpoints and perspectives, what are implications and consequences?  Posing followup questions keeps a discussion moving.

Let discussion flow on its own without much interference from teacher, but maintain a presence-intervene when needed for clarity or re-tracking if they become stuck, you don’t have to reply to every post.

Followup in the classroom afterwards, ask for “muddy” questions/concepts and clear them up.

Options

Assign roles for each discussion-e.g. researcher, responders, critical friends, fact checkers, reporters/summarizers.

Create a casual, open discussion board for personal news and topical discussions.

Use one board for initial introductions-develop an online community.

Collect exam/quiz questions from discussion boards, possibly have students create the questions.

Breaking into groups may be necessary to manage large classes so that the number of posts doesn’t become overwhelming.

To achieve “critical mass” make sure there are at least 4 to 6 students on each board.

Consider creating a short audio or video recording to introduce the topic/discussion, humor(which doesn’t always come across in text) could even be used here.

Consider using an anonymous posting board occasionally for frank discussions and/or a board where students can anonymously pose questions to the teacher.

Consider using a tool such as Voicethread which allows students to respond in text, audio, or video.