This summer, I taught EME6613 Design of Tech-Based Instruction online for the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. This course is a part of the Master of Education, and prepares students to design and facilitate online classes (it’s very meta, since the class itself is online and can be used as an example). As a compressed 6-weeks course, it’s very fast-paced (syllabus). Here are some reflections on the experience.
It was the third time I taught the class, so I was more comfortable and felt on top of my game. Instead of building the class from the ground up (like in 2014) or being stuck in the middle of flood central (leak in my house) and a 4 month-old baby killing my sleep (2015), I was actually able to focus on improving the class and switching some assignments around. I believe my class is now in a good spot to require minimal revision the next time around.
William Horton, in E-Learning by Design (pages 44-45, first edition), describes the process of designing e-learning as a cycle consisting of analyzing, designing, building, and evaluating your course, over and over again. The more cycles it goes through, the more polished it becomes.
The mind-mapping exercise worked
Instead of yet another discussion board, I asked my students to create a mind map of their vision of what online learning is. The maps I received were diverse and interesting, and helped clear some misconceptions the students had. Most students were able, without much effort, to use a software product, like PowerPoint, or an online tool, like LucidChart, to create their map.
Video feedback in Speedgrader is the bomb
Canvas provides so much value with video comments. Grading is personalized, and students actually watch the feedback when it’s done that way. Who knew?
I must integrate more peer-review
The peer review process I set up for the mind-mapping exercise was well received and demonstrated the power of sharing with your peers. Many students were glad to be put in the position to dive more deeply into a colleague’s lens. I would like to do at least one more peer-review for the course the next time. I might also try to force a group project as well, so students can experience collaborating online.
I must re-balance the gradebook
Some items have too much weighted value in comparison with others. I think attendance to the weekly Hangouts on Air (currently 4%) should have more value than accomplishing the chores (10%). Also, the mind-mapping assignment requires as much effort as the screencasting one, but yet is only worth 8% vs 20% for the latter. This is because I was trying not to mess up my point value for the projects while adding another one.
I need to rethink the instructions for the capstone project
I wish more students spent more time doing something meaningful as their capstone project. Right now, it is focused on creating a Google Site and populating it with content of different nature (links, images, videos, etc.). I think I could introduce the capstone project earlier and have students build it as a decent learning portfolio by the end of the semester, something they would be proud of and use beyond the course.
Did I miss anything?
If you participated in the course, please let me know in the comments if I missed other biggies for EME6613 version 4.