Reflection: Designing an Online Course for Educators
Today’s educators have a unique challenge of preparing students for a workforce that is always changing and therefore they must change how they teach. The students of today need to be able to communicate, learn independently, think critically, collaborate with others, apply digital skills, and manage knowledge (Bates, 2015). For teachers to learn how to teach these skills, professional development must change also. Educators need to experience blended learning in order to better understand how to blend the learning in their classrooms. The course I’ve developed is for this purpose, to allow educators to experience a model of blended learning they can incorporate into their classrooms.
This course for my educators was designed using the ADDIE design model (Bates, 2015; Morrison, 2013). Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. I started by Analyzing the learners and resources available for my course, what were their prior knowledge and skills. Then I proceeded to Design the course by looking at the objectives, learning outcomes, and delivery options. Was the course to be 100% online or blend of online and face-to-face sessions. To complete this I utilized Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design (2005) template where you start with your goals, proceed to outline the understandings and essential questions. That is stage one of the UbD template.
The next step of the ADDIE model is Develop which corresponds to stages two and three of the UbD template. This step is the most time intensive one consisting of Assessment Evidence and the Learning Plan. During the developing step, it important to keep all learners in mind by reflecting on Universal Design for Learning (Gordon, Myer, & Rose, 2016). Universal design refers to ensuring everyone has equal access to the course, visually impaired people need to have the page read aloud which means ensuring that the text is all typed out or included in the alternate text options when inserting images and any audio recordings should incorporate closed captioning for the hearing impaired. While developing the course materials, course developers need to keep in mind how people learn, are they going to watch videos, read articles, or participate in discussions to analyze what they are learning? Good course design uses both which are prevalent in constructivism and connectivism, two learning theories that I believe are most applicable to online learning.
Constructivism defines learning as the constant progress of developing personal meaning through reflection and analysis (Bates, 2015). Connectivism believes the retaining of knowledge is not as important as the ability to find information when needed and that maintaining those connections is key to facilitating continual learning (Siemens, 2005; Bates, 2015). My goal of the course is to utilize these two theories as I model their application by Implementing the design of the course. The implementation step is the delivery of the course to the learners; where all the planning and prepping pays off. The learners are interacting with each other, social connections are made, and learning is applied.
Once the course is completed and feedback is collected in the form of surveys from the learners or reflections made by the instructor, the Evaluate step begins. This is where the course is improved before the next iteration. Within the evaluate step, I will look back and tweak the course to ensure that I am utilizing the concepts of universal design in order for my course to be accessible to all, not just my current teachers.
At this point, I have only completed steps 1-3 of ADDIE, I am yet to implement but I can begin to reflect and evaluate my course at this point. I did not incorporate all of the aspects of universal design learning but due to lack of time, I did not include closed captions or alternate text for my images because I don’t have educators with these limitations at this time. This will be one of the first things I address as I continue to develop professional learning for my educators.
While researching and developing this course, I've come across some examples of successful online learning. The Friday Institute through NC State University is a collection of MOOC-Ed's for educators interested in professional learning. MIT Open Courseware is provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that offers free courses for all interested in learning. WGU and Lamar University are two Texas universities that have successful online courses for undergraduate and graduate students around the world. Rice University has started to use online tutors for their students in order to personalize their learning. These are just a few of the online options for learners today, It's a great time to be a lifelong learner!
Bates, Tony. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates, Ltd. Retrieved from: https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage
Gordon, D., Myer, A., & Rose, D. (2016). Universal Design for Learning. 1st ed. CAST Professional Publishing.
Morrison, D. (2013). “Start Here”: Instructional Design Models for Online Courses. Online Learning Insights. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/start-here-instructional-design-models-for-online-courses/
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm
Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design, expanded 2nd edition. Pearson. ISBN 0131950843.