Activities to Engage the Online Learner

Part two: Activities to engage the online learner by Conrad & Donaldson

Chapter 7 Reflective Activities

This chapter resonated with me because I wanted to add in a component of self reflection for the participants. My goal for this section is to allow participants to critically think about the content, their own involvement with the information and how they would apply these new skills/strategies in their own content. I originally thought about posting on a Google Doc or on the website, but as I thought more about it, I feel it would be more beneficial for each person to begin their own Blog, using Blogger. Unless they already have their own blog. This is a professional opportunity to use and model their skills. I plan to use these reflective writings as a way to track their experience and knowledge and determine if they have truly synthesized the content for future practices. I particularly enjoyed reading the examples of ways to change up the reflective writings and plan to use these with my face to face trainings.

Chapter 8 Authentic Activities

Another critical component I wanted to add to this course was creating authentic activities for my participants. My goal is for the new content/skills/strategies to be embedded into their own content, so each participant had a deeper sense of understanding. One can create lessons on digital literacy to include as a separate entity. That’s not what I want educators creating in this course.. I want them talking the language with students, modeling the strategies through their own research topics.

Chapter 10 Learner-Led Activities

This chapter reminded me of last week’s topic of motivating students to successfully completing tasks and the course. Though I do not plan on creating an opportunity for participants to lead a lesson within this course, they will be empowered to create lessons for their own classroom. I did gain some great strategies for my face to face trainings I conduct for the district, giving me suggestions as to how to create an effective learner-led activity. The table on page 116 will give me a start to creating this opportunity.


Design with Process in Mind

Ch. 6 – Design with process in mind by Smith

This was exceptionally helpful for this week’s assignment, the syllabus and course creation. For each section, I was able to reflect on how I needed to design and build my online course to ensure consistency and ease for all participants. Even though I started to build my website in the previous week, there were many aspects that I did not think about until I read this. Some of the key points I took from this article were as follows:

  1. Up until now, I had not thought about how the participants would turn in assignments. Using Google Sites, there really is not an option for them. After brainstorming some ideas, I decided to create a Google Document that will  list everything for each participant, who will add a link to each assignment so I have access to grade it. This is similar to the approach the instructor took for EDTECH 512. It seems to be the most logical process for this course.
  2. I had not thought about my availability for this course. I was in the same trap as the author when I conducted my first online course a couple of years ago. I was continually checking in each day and it took a lot of extra time because I had not established my own schedule for this course. I determined that email would be the best option for participants to contact me. I established a certain day for participants to complete posts and assignments to get feedback and that will be my day to log on to also give feedback.
  3. There were a couple of pages I did not think to add to my course, “coffee shop page for social interactions other than course related topics, and the questions page. This page should be added for participants to pose questions about assignments and course related issues. I will also use this page to post concerns from individual students who email me, but it actually pertains to the class. (Another helpful hint suggested by the author.)

This article was very applicable to this week’s assignments.

Design for Motivation

This article tied in perfectly with a recent learning experience I had with a company called Thinqshift. When building leaders, one must think different to shift behaviors and build new habits. I guess you can say develop a growth mindset, rather than continue with your fixed mindset. As leaders/instructors, we should design learning experiences or opportunities to ensure success for the participants, putting them in control and will hopefully find the relevance in the change because it will be good. We live in a time where we can no longer ask related arts, computer lab, to teach these skills. This is not a successful approach in our district. I need to be able to shift the mindset of “That’s the computer lab responsibility, not me…I teach science.” I hope the videos and scenarios I plan to use will help build the both buy in and relevance to change their minds about it.

As I design the online course and think about motivation, I am looking at how I can build in buy-in and relevance for the content and activities. If they become comfortable in the knowledge of digital literacy, discussing with their peers, they develop confidence to use it in the daily lessons.  I am hoping that by asking teachers to redesign their content lessons to  include digital literacy skills, the new “behavior” will be easier to use in the classroom.  I also want them to share their lessons with their peers so they can help each other practice and coach each other to become more confident in digital literacy skills. If I were to take a course, such as the one I am building on digital literacy, it is the way I would want to apply the new skills. Since this is an optional course, I would assume people want to learn and apply it the same way.

ARCS Model of Instructional Design

Development and Use of the ARCS Model of Instructional Design, John M. Keller

I am familiar with the ARCS model from the instructional design course I took last year. There were a couple of points that I took from this article and want to include as I develop my online course. I want to create learning objectives that are motivational to the learners. I returned to my objectives and I see that I can change up the wording to identify behavior and conditions that will apply to the content. Especially with my topic, Digital Citizenship, I need to create some opportunities for internal motivation with the learners, because I can see many educators stating it is not their role to teach or reinforce these skills in their content area. Reflecting on the learning activities I have in mind, I feel the sustained motivation will be there, because they are embedding the digital skills into their own curriculum, not having a separate lesson. I hope that the relevance will help sustain the desire to learn digital citizenship.

As far as confidence, I am aware that the topic is overwhelming for many teachers and there will be a lack of comfort in the beginning. My goal during this course is to promote discussions among peers, so they are more in control of their learning experience and can offer each other that needed guidance, as well as the instructor. I understand to create motivational learning experiences that will stimulate learning the content for the group as a whole. I feel that the videos I have found for each objective will help spark that desire to learn each digital skill.

Establishing a Quality Review

Establishing a quality review by Chao et al.

This article gave some insights to assist me in critiquing a course for one the assignments this week. It thoroughly discussed the components of a  quality framework for web-based courses. I first attempted the assignment prior to reading, and I hope this will help me in completing this task more effectively and successfully.

As a web-based course designer, the has given me some thoughts so I do not end up in “suicide method of course development.”

  1. I see the purpose of knowing the learners, as this article states to incorporate the outcomes based on the interests and needs of the learners. While this may pose a problem if you do not know your learners, but I have used a learning spectrum activity to determine levels of abilities, interests and needs based on what I know about the district.
  2. While designing my course, I really need to think about my content/outcomes and determine the right activities, strategy or tool that will achieve those outcomes. This was the coaching style in my previous job and how I have trained my district’s TLCs when working with their teachers.
  3. I am still trying to determine the best LMS to use to create and sustain interactions among all participants. My original thought is to use Google Sites and utilize the Announcements type webpage for interactions. My other option is Google+ for the interaction. I need to ensure the course presentation not only is functional and consistent, but flows well. I do not want to overwhelm the users.

I will use the sample of instructional design criteria to guide me through the design process as I move along in the development phases. The checklist will allow me look at each component and evaluate the level of quality.

Design with Organization in Mind

Ch. 4 – “Design with organization in mind” by Smith

My first thought about this chapter was the format the author used to present the content. I follows the same format required to designing a course. Not only does this reinforce what is it looks like but the purpose of each component. Having these models scaffolds my understanding and the examples guide me as I develop my online course. The most critical part I have come to understand, and realize, is the importance of having everything written up, organized, planned and ready for full implementation prior to the first day of class. There is quite a bit of up front work to do, but it pays off during the course. This will allow for more self directed learners who are comfortable and confident in where resources are located.

Here is a list of essential tips that I need to remember while I develop the course.

  1. Customizing the learning outcomes to what you are actually teaching. This process reminds me of unpacking the standards in the classroom to make it more meaningful for the students.
  2. Just as my students in the classroom need examples of work to understand the expectations, having the examples, when appropriate so participants have a better chance of meeting the instructor’s expectations.
  3. The grading system helped, since I am familiar with elementary grading system.  Thinking about the projects I will have participants complete I need to determine what each assignment will be and chunk this.
  4. Prioritize portions in order to eliminate the suicide method of course development. Typically I will get through the easier portions of the assignment and wait to complete the hard sections. This is telling me to change that process and I can understand why. It will no longer feel so daunting once those are completed.

WBID Model an Overview

Ch. 2 – Overview of Web-based Instructional Design Model,

Having to complete the first section of the Design Document for this week’s assignment, I found the article guided me through the process of developing each section in more depth. The For each element, the authors added in steps or statements to thoroughly anayzing the design component. I found the problem analysis most helpful as I wrote that section and whether an online course would be the best solution to the problem. I tried to work on the Design Document in the beginning of the week, prior to my reading, just to get an idea of what the assignment entailed. When this question came up, I sat for a bit and said “Well, it’s the assignment, I have to create an online course for this class, and this happens to be the topic I need it to be for our district.” However, the authors posed questions for me to understand why it would fit the need, not only does Digital Literacy fit into subject matter, participants will need the internet to complete the assignments. As the authors said, there is not clear cut decision as to whether online will be the solution, but this assisted me in developing my reasoning for creating the course.

The other section I found to be more challenging was the learner characteristics. Knowing the “who” allows the instructor to modify the course to fit the needs of the participants. Online courses are very different from a classroom in the sense you have the demographics of the each student coming into your classroom that was created by a Student Data Coordinator. Or, the information is housed on a secure platform and you have access to it at your fingertips. With online courses, you do not know who is signing up, the abilities or characteristics of the individual until the course starts and they inform the instructor. Not only did the article help me think deeper about each learning component in the design document, I used the learner profile spectrum process designed by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey. If I can plan for both sides of the spectrum, the middle is much easier to plan for that group.