Here it is, Sunday afternoon. Since Wednesday morning, I have been immersed in conversation about technology: On Wednesday and Thursday, at the DTC (District Test Coordinators) spring training, where EED focused on readiness for the state’s new online assessments, district readiness for computer-based testing, and student readiness for taking online assessments...followed by an afternoon of conversation about the new educator evaluation regulations which rely heavily on technology to make the task of managing the new eval system possible. Then, since Friday morning, the world has been an ASTE-induced blur as we prepped for the conference, and as I have engaged as a presenter and participant in sessions that whisk me off to the endless worlds of opportunities made possible through modern technology, forward thinking, creativity, and a desire to help students of all ages learn as much as they possibly can, “regardless of their ZIP code.” The conversation I have not, unfortunately, been as successful at starting has been this week’s blog post.
The assigned texts this week provided further evidence that there is nothing about designing online learning that is “easy.” Our readings emphasized the roles of various design team members, key components of effective online classes, available tools, effective writing styles, and even stylistic/graphic design considerations that come into play when creating opportunities for online learning. So many of these elements never come into play in a f2f, traditional classroom!
A major “a-ha” for the week was related to the purpose of a study guide in an online course. I compare Moore and Kearsley’s description of a “study guide” to a traditional high school classroom syllabus: essentially, there are VERY few similarities. Whereas a syllabus for a high school algebra class (in my district, anyway) may outline the course, provide information about how grades are weighted, and an explanation of what will happen if an assignment is late, the study guide for an online course is intended to GUIDE the student. “The study guide is intended to communicate teaching” and is, in essence, “a tutorial in text” (Moore and Kearsley, p. 105). The list of elements a study guide should include is fantastic: clear, concise, and comprehensive.
Perhaps it is because of the lists provided throughout Moore and Kearsley’s text that I am enjoying it so much. For this reason, too, I appreciated Ann Gordon’s information on instructional design, including the checklist of meetings and agenda items for content experts and course developers (Gordon, 2013) and the chapter on “Creating a Syllabus” in Florida State University’s Office of Distance Learning Guide to Teaching and Learning Practices.. I am still figuring out exactly how online course design works, in reality, when a team is involved. Our ELA team has been amazing to work with, and as our work progresses, I see us falling into the various roles discussed in our readings. Throughout the last several weeks as we have worked together, I have often referred to the nifty ADDIE model infographic to help me keep my thinking grounded about how online course design really works (Ferriman, 2013).
While a design team with as many members as those listed on the Open University (UK) Course Team (Moore and Kersely, p. 103) is overwhelming, to say the least, I can easily see how online content providers estimate that a complete course costs in the $250,000 range, from inception to launch (Bensch, 2013). True confessions time: As a classroom teacher, there were a few Monday mornings (after weekends when all three of my kids were involved in hockey games that took us to the far reaches of road-system Alaska) when I would walk into my classroom exhausted and unprepared. I would come up with something on the fly that may, or may not, have anything to do with what we learned on the Friday before, or what we would learn on the day following. There. I said it. In an online course, nothing is left to change. Everything is aligned, purposeful, intentional, connected, and well-considered. In this respect, the content of an online class is far superior to what happens in many classrooms on a day-to-day basis...even though it is humbling and feels horrible for the classroom teacher to admit. We want to believe that it’s the “live teacher” in the room that makes the difference...when, in reality, the live teacher with crappy content is in no way “better” than carefully-crafted online content that is supported by a teacher who knows it was chosen for THAT day as part of a master plan that will result in specific learning.
Bensch, T. (2013). Personal communication regarding Edgenuity online course development.
Gordon, A. (2013). Instructional design. Instructional Design & Online Course Development. Retreived on 17 Feb 2014 from http://instructionaldesign.gordoncomputer.com/IDRoles.html
Ferriman, J. (2013). Addie Model Explained. [Infographic]. Retrieved on 17 Feb 2014 from http://www.learndash.com/addie-model-explained-infographic/
Florida State University. (2011). Instruction at FSU: A Guide to Teaching & Learning Practices. Retrieved from http://distance.fsu.edu/instructors/instruction-fsu-guide-teaching-learning-practices
Moore, M. and Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. [eBook edition]. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Online Learning Insights. (2013). How to apply a team based approach to online course design. Online Learning Insights. Retrieved on 17 Feb 2014 from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/tag/team-based-instructional-design/