This past August I began a year-long program to earn a certificate in online teaching and curriculum development through UCSD. The program consists of six courses and I completed the first two in Fall 2017.
I have been teaching fully online courses at Vanguard for the past 7 years and have worked to improve them over time as I increased my understanding of best practices in online learning and my skills in using a learning management system. But I’ve always known that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I’ve become more overwhelmed over time with the seemingly endless list of options for new technologies to implement. So, with the plan to move the PS business degree program online, I sought out a program that could broaden my knowledge as an online instructor and curriculum designer.
My cohort began the program by reading numerous articles written over the past two decades that gave an historical overview of online delivery and the learning that has led to current best practices. From there we began our work to become more effective online instructors. Here is a synopsis and some resources from the first two courses in the program: Introduction to Online Learning and Foundations of Curriculum Design and Evaluation. We focused on:
- The role of the instructor as facilitator and moderator to build and sustain community, social-presence, and connection with students. This starts with the first introduction of the instructor; an introduction that moves beyond the academic credentials bio and provides some personal information; students are asked to do the same, and community begins.Attached: An example of an intro I did using a required template.
Resource: This article identifies other course activities that can help to build community
- The need to develop curriculum that addresses all students by understanding multiple intelligences and learning styles. We read Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, took the VARK questionnaire, and focused on learning activities to meet the needs of students across a range of learning styles.Resource: Here is a brief synopsis of Gardener’s theory
- The value of creating an organized flow of lessons and activities to support students in honing effective time management and self-direction skills. Effective online design includes developing a clear road-map. Instructors sequence an online course so that each written lesson, each individual and collaborative activity, each video, discussion, assignment, and audio power point can stand alone for every student who asynchronously engages the material. In the online environment, there is no opportunity to adjust in the moment as we do in our F2F courses.Resources: Here is a self-assessment for students to determine readiness for online courses
Here are four recommended design process models
This is a fun option to create a mind map that helps in planning course sequence
- The importance of developing institutional level policies for online courses, e.g. all online courses must proctor at least one signature assessment.Resources: Here are a set of rubrics from the College of Charleston to assess a new online course
Here is the Chico State QOLT rubric
- The importance of writing SMART course objectives and using graphic organizers for visual communication. SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely & time-bound
Resources: Bloom’s Taxonomy revised
Bloom’s Action Verbs
- Remembering there are many benefits of the online format, including:
- The opportunity in an online asynchronous discussion to substantively engage the course content and thoughtfully participate after taking time to reflect on peer comments vs. having to quickly respond in class to earn participation points
- The dynamism that comes from a student-centered virtual classroom vs. an instructor-centered traditional classroom
- The value that options such as sub-thread discussions provide in allowing students to have some level of control over their learning experience so it better meets their needs
As I moved through the semester reading, writing, discussing with my peers, several of whom are also higher ed instructors, and developing an online course, I was introduced to a variety of other resources.
The online learning website provided by the University of Illinois is expansive.
Here are links to several sections of the site:
- Specific activities that promote online discussion: Online discussion activities
- Strategies to promote communication online
- Activities for online and blended courses:
I’m ever more aware of how much I didn’t know. I’m learning and filling in those gaps, and I’m grateful for the professional development funds that are supporting my efforts.