Final Reflection

I think I achieved all the learning goals laid out at the beginning of the course. I especially enjoyed applying what I read about in articles when designing my own course. Whenever a course offers the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned, it is the most effective way for learners to actually retain information. I have even started touting my basic rampages skills to my colleagues and feel as though I’ve “bought into” my own module learning goals – I’ve improved my online learning skills. I took the pre-test for my module to see if I was really ready to be a true online learner (Bri sent it to me early on in the summer). I did not score well and remember the advice at the end of the test suggested I rethink online learning. A few months later, I can say that I’m better prepared to enter another online environment because my technology skills, knowledge of online platforms, and ability to connect virtually with people is vastly improved. I also enjoyed reading about the history of eLearning and visions for the future. Even though the technology can get pretty complicated with a new tool coming out every 10 minutes, the basic design and implementation strategies remain the same – communication, connection, and community. The community of inquiry framework survey I will continue to keep in my office on my bulletin board as a constant reference for most any course I design or take.

I think the most effective learning activity was designing our own module – breaking it down piece by piece. At first, I wasn’t comfortable not knowing the structure of the project (i.e. the deadline, how I’d be evaluated, etc.) However, after reading further about the importance of the learning process, it all came together for me.  I cannot think of a least effective learning activity since they were all relevant (perhaps the feedly exercise since I never touched it after I created it). Really the course feedback that I have would be to shorten this down to 6 or 8 weeks in the summer versus 12. I think the course objectives/learning goals could be achieved in that time frame if you combined a few topics together in one week. If it remained 12 weeks, I could see the optional reflective tweet versus a blog post each week. It is much easier for me to see what the whole class thought about each weekly topic than to read a lengthy blog post. Just some thoughts. Overall, I’m a better eLearner and designer as a result of this course. Thank you!

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Final Project

What would you like feedback on? What would help you improve your project?

I would like feedback on the design of the course site, lesson structure, content of each completed lesson, and where there could be areas for growth if I decided to lengthen the time of the course. Part of me is thinking if I wanted the module to run the full semester (13-16 weeks), what other lesson topics could be included?

How should we evaluate your project? According to this criteria, how would you evaluate your final project?

I would like for you to evaluate my project on the following criteria:

  • Using the COI survey, did I incorporate elements of teacher, social, and cognitive presence?
  • Do the lesson activities meet the learning goals?
  • Is my course site user friendly?

According to the criteria listed above, I think I incorporated teacher presence in that I clearly communicated important course topics, goals, and activities. I incorporated social presence by requiring and encouraging online discussion and collaboration through blogging. I incorporated elements of cognitive presence through problem-posing learning activities like the pre-test, case study, and 90 day action challenge. Those activities also allowed for brainstorming about possible solutions using relevant information and resources.

I think my lesson activities meet the learning goals except for understanding the campus resources available on campus. I’m not sure if I do a thorough job explaining the available technology resources students can utilize if they encounter problems. I will go back and think about including that in my course module so that I am doing a better job assigning activities that meet learning goals. Nevertheless, I think the module does a solid job helping students develop a goal action plan necessary for success in blending learning environments.

I also think the rampages set up couldn’t have been easier! Plus, I even utilized the ALT lab on campus and the faculty couldn’t have been better to work with. Once they gave me a basic tutorial, I ran with it. I think wordpress is definitely user friendly and my hope is students will feel very comfortable using a platform they will have to use for future courses.

What did you learn in the process of developing this project?

I learned the importance of being adept at using the technology you are trying to teach to your students. I decided to be more intentional about teaching my students how to set up and use rampages as lesson 1 because Monty reminded me that with each new online tool I introduce, I need to be able to teach that to my students. I learned not to be so content drive, but process-drive when it came to teaching. At certain points of the project, I would get caught up in the content of each lesson such as blogging about a particular topic, that I forgot I should probably lay the groundwork and teach my students how to blog first. The course taught me to take a step back and think more deeply about online course design and structure.

 

Virtual Reality

I’ve never been into video games, which is what this virtual reality/avatar-based environment reminds me of.  I was that child who played with barbies (probably longer than I should) rather than figuring out how to control a virtual character on a screen. After watching Cooper McBeth’s video, I couldn’t help but laugh at first when I saw his avatar. To this day, I think most video games look pretty silly and I can’t get into it. I understand the importance of access and providing a variety of learning experiences through SecondLife (and other software programs), but a teacher has to be pretty tech-savvy to “build” these virtual worlds. Plus, I’m wondering if the cost makes VR unaffordable for most public school systems. The main benefit to these virtual worlds is role-playing, simulation activities that allow for skills and strategies to be practiced in a “virtual” reality before it becomes a physical reality. I read a bit on how VR is being used for military purposes and even medicinal practices, which completely makes sense to me. Students who are creating virtual content they can actually apply to their lives offers a lot of learning potential.

I did some further VR research on Google, and read that there is a VR software that allows you to take photos of different sites and “stitch” them together  to create panoramas. I loved this idea for my course. If a student could create a photo documentary of how they are sticking to their 90 day action plans using VR, I’d love to see visuals of their challenges and successes. I think if a student could see another student studying in the library or eating Sweet Frog after getting an A on a test, it could further motivate other students to keep pushing themselves to reach their goals. Perhaps, a student could enter another student’s virtual world and borrow strategies for success they could apply to their own reality. I think the benefits of VR really depends on the software the teacher or the student decides to use and implement. Some look better than others.

Reference: http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Virtual-Reality/The-Virtual-Classroom-Virtual-Reality-in-Training-and-Education.html

Project Status

Thank you to everyone who offered me constructive feedback about my course module. All of your suggestions were very helpful and insightful!

Changes:

  1. I made a static homepage instead of a posts page so students do not have to click “continue reading” to see entire paragraph.
  2. I recreated the sub menu on the Course Information and Lessons page so students aren’t looking at a blank page. I simply copied the format Monty and Bri used by inserting hyperlinks.
  3. I decided to make my “icebreaker” and “rampages set up” the first lesson instead of embedding the icebreaker into my previous first lesson. I decided to use the Something You Want to Learn activity in addition to having the students share some personal info as their introductory blog. Again, I used Monty and Bri’s rampages set up instructions from our course site.
  4. I deleted my previous lesson 4 on time management and re-orded my lessons as follows: Lesson 1: Getting to know rampages and each other; Lesson 2: Am I ready for online learning; Lesson 3: Case study in hybrid learning; Lesson 4: 90 Day Action Challenge; Lesson 5: 90 day action presentation.

I decided against including an icebreaker activity that used twitter or snapchat since I am not a frequent user and I would have to provide detailed instructions on any new technology that I’m introducing. I thought for an introductory module geared toward freshmen I should stick to only one online platform (rampages). I think making the icebreaker/get to know it’s own lesson helps establish social presence early on. I thought the way this course was laid out was super clear and structured, so I borrowed a lot of my course inspiration from this one. Thank you, Monty and Bri! I do not think I will make further changes at this point and am open to further feedback on the changes I just made.

MOOCs

My experience with MOOC’s is limited, which includes reading about, participating in, or enrolling students in massive online courses. The first time I remember hearing about MOOC’s was when our former Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success discussed the topic in 2013. I heard rumblings about it being offered for an intensive writing, research course (UNIV 200), but it never took off. I wonder if VCU was quick to jump on the MOOC bandwagon like many of the other colleges and universities mentioned in the articles without thinking through the instructional design in more depth? Zemsky explains that “The readiness of so many higher education wonks to give serious consideration to this possibility is but further evidence of higher education’s vulnerability to ideas that hold that there is no connective tissue holding together either those who seek or those who provide an undergraduate education.” Zemsky’s argument reminded me of Judith Hughes’ article on supporting the online learner. She argued for the necessary exchange of information that needs to happen between the learner, institution, and instructor. Zemsky’s explanation about higher education and marketplace philosophy was interesting to say the least and led me to thinking about VCU parallels. 

What a MOOC can provide however is that opportunity for collective learning. MOOC’s support complexity pedagogy because they have the ability to move learners away from the teacher as expert toward a more collaborative workspace.  I agree with Macdonald and Ahern that a MOOC can serve as a great resource guide “providing topical information from a field expert” in which learners can discuss the material using a variety of online platforms. I don’t see it as a viable option for true teaching and learner-centered education because MOOC’s are too content-heavy and less process-driven. Baggely writes that “The UID set no longer stresses the need for the teacher to provide the students with feedback and knowledge of results, nor the importance of active, motivated learning, nor the need to accommodate cultural differences in one’s teaching.” After reading the articles, everything about a massive online course leads me running in the other direction, especially if there is little teacher presence involved. The other issue to me would be what I discussed in my constructivism post – social isolation and lack of humanity. I wrote that after a while communicating through a computer instead of a real person has the ability for others to become desensitized to human emotion. Baggely mentions that MOOC’s create a situation in which “data is simply ‘pushed’ into communication channels, while communication itself is not necessarily improved. In large populations particularly, the technology is maximized while human contact is minimized, and isolation and psychological distance are amplified.” 

With that being said, I do not want to turn my module into a MOOC and don’t think it should. The self-development process (90 day challenge) involves a lot of instructor and student feedback, which physically can’t be done with 10,000:1 student-teacher ratio. If I turned my module into a simple resource guide, a MOOC could work great – easy access to a list of readings, resources and pre/post tests open for discussion.