Well, it has been a quite few months here! I have not fallen off the face of the planet–rather, I had fallen into the world of CEP 820, a MSU class for the Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) program. It consists primarily of designing an online course module, which I have finally (kind of) finished. The link is below. I say I have kind of finished it, because I really don’t think, after experiencing this course, that any online course is ever done. I already can think of several revisions and changes I will make when preparing to teach this unit of study in later months. For now, you can read my brief reflection below, as well as find links to my CMS and also to my “Developer’s Notebook,” a detailed trip into my experiences over the last few months…
My Haiku Page
The MSU MAET course CEP 820 has felt like one decision after another. From the beginning, I feel like I have been constantly asked to think about design, rethink about it, and consider how to incorporate pedagogy into every decision (hello, TPACK! 🙂 ).
The first big decisions were related to design–choosing a CMS around which to structure my online course. Deciding what features of a CMS were most important and then determining which CMS best fit my needs and desires turned out to be the defining decision of the course. I think the options offered by Haiku, the CMS I chose, determined the end result of my course because it determined how my course would look. While Haiku did not dictate the pedagogical decisions, it did create the initial skeleton that I had to work from.
The course I designed is to be the final unit in 11th grade World History. I built this site with the recognition that this is the last year in high school students will take a Social Studies course, and that and its end, they should ideally be well on their way to being prepared for college. This means they will need to practice skills crucial to success in college. Thus, I created my site with the hope and pedagogical goals that it would allow students the ability to work together and also practice learning in a self-paced environment. It is a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities, in part because I wanted to test out aspects of the flipped classroom. there is a mix of activities and work that students must do on their own to be prepared in class for discussions, but I also wanted students the chance to be in groups and get the social aspect of learning as well.
Additionally, I wanted my design to be such that students of all learning styles and interests would find something for them in the unit. This takes a huge amount of time and effort, because it involves finding websites, readings, activities and programs that reach to multiple intelligences, and then meaningfully incorporating them.
A major pitfall I had was in discovering something I really valued in a site appears to be unavailable on my CMS platform. As I teach at a school that is largely ESL, I wanted to find a widget that would allow for easy translation within the site. I recommend, based on my experience, that when making the decision of what CMS to use, really focus in on the 1 or 2 most important things you care about, and make sure your choice supports it. CEP 820 did include an activity early on that asked me to evaluate the pros and cons of multiple sites while considering important aspects, but as I dug deeper, I did run into that pitfall with Haiku.
Another pitfall I am continuing to struggle with is how to make my site as easily accessible for all students as possible. I have solved some of these problems by working closely with the Special Education teacher at my school, but I know I have a lot more work to do. I think a teacher can never see their work as being “done” when it comes to building any course, be it online or in the traditional classroom. Revision is not only necessary, but is also the best way to make improvements and evolve for the sake of the student.
Link to Developer’s Notebook
Link to Haiku Page