Evaluating Authentic elearning Courses

Ch. 8 – Evaluating authentic elearning courses by Herrington et al.

This chapter entailed a general overview of the process for evaluating a program. Having taken 2 courses at BSU, in regards to instructional design and evaluation, I was able to make many connections to this chapter. There is an immense amount of work involved in evaluating a program that I just never realized until I went through the entire process. I recently completed an evaluation on a Blended model we are implementing in our district. We had a goal for the program; we wanted to determine whether the blended model would give students more opportunities to use the 4 C’s, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. I sat down with the team who trains the teachers and developed our whole plan; a purpose of the evaluation, the outcomes of the program, the methods of evaluating and who would be involved. I took away many “ahas” from the process, but most of all the importance of each step in the process. I was fortunate to be working with the stakeholders, as we are the team who is implementing the PAC4-Blended Model. I did not have to build the relationship, because I already have one with them. This also helped with the negotiations of why we needed an evaluation. As the chapter said, having skills in negotiations is critical. This is a personality trait that I lack, but I knew the background information of the program and could persuade the team into allowing me to conduct the evaluation. We needed the data for our other stakeholders to tell the story of the PAC4 for future implementation and sustainability.

As a team, we also learned the area of concerns for the program and discussed the ways to improve it. This is a challenge people have with conducting or having an evaluation complete for a program. You expose the gaps and failures  and no one wants to have those exposed. However, it can lead to a stronger program in the end because you have the opportunity to focus on the issues and fix it.

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Design with Navigation in Mind

Ch. 7 – Design with navigation in mind by Smith

Many of the tips included in this chapter were relatable to me either as a student/participant in a course or the instructor. I have no idea if a professor has used a call I have used a call log in the classroom to document conversations I had with students and parents. It showed a pattern of conversations among certain students, which is critical for documentation for IEPs, 504 and such. This is in a traditional classroom setting. However, I see the value of using it for online courses as well. If there is a pattern in a content, link, or concern that students are contacting a professor for clarification, it shows a need to be addressed. The professor can then fix it at that time, depending on the issue, or create a running list of issues or changes to be made at the end of the course. It is also very important to check all links before the course starts for every semester. This was mentioned in the article and is very accurate. One does not know when a website changes locations or is taken off the web. That management piece if critical.

I have also found benefit to having a FAQ section. One course I just completed last semester had this, recorded the question a student asked, and had the answer with it. I referred to this frequently when I had questions. It can be a participant’s first attempt to locating the answer, before maybe asking a student/class in a “cyber cafe”. The professor, often times, can be the last person to contact. It is similar to being a classroom teacher…ask 3 before me.   

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.

ARCS Model of Instructional Design

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

http://edtech.mrooms.org/pluginfile.php/114292/mod_page/content/75/ARCSModel.pdf

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.

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,

http://edtech.mrooms.org/pluginfile.php/114283/mod_page/content/47/chapter%203%20-%20analysis.pdf

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. 

 

 

Context Matters

http://www.aect.org/pdf/proceedings09/2009I/09_20.pdf

Context Matters: A Description and Typology of the Online Learning Landscape

The authors of this article briefly describes what online learning is and the various components of what a course could look like. Because there are a variety of types of online learning, there is no definite definition or guideline. This can be beneficial for people who are interested in taking a course and can determine what will work best for themselves. However, what the authors have included on page 168 is extremely helpful for beginning instructors, or veteran instructors, designing their online course.

I used the one pager to determine my direction of the modules I want to put together for this course, EDTECH 512. As I was developing the proposal, I am looking at each context for my setup and purpose. The project proposal given by the instructor was helpful, but this one pager allowed me to think in more depth of my own project. Some of the concepts were easier to understand and was able to quickly develop that component. At the point that I do not understand the concept, I was able to go back into the article and get a better description. Until I am more confident with the design process, I will use this in the future. 

One aspect of this article that resonates with me and I read it numerous times, take an online course to gain the experience to better prepare for your own implementation. One can plan accordingly and is better equipped with troubleshooting tips to ensure success for the participants. The authors also discussed that it is becoming more common to have necessary trainings and developments to teach an online course, to ensure the quality of the course is high. Having taught a couple of online modules myself, this is critical because the management, preparation and sustainability of the courses are different than face to face trainings.