Monday, June 10, 2013

Scrounging: Designing a Course

Image by Marcin Wichary
CC BY 2.0
I had a professor in my teacher education program who once told us, "Great teachers are scroungers. They are always on the look out for materials, curriculum, and techniques that they can scavenge and bring into their own classroom."

I didn't appreciate this as much at the time as I do now.

I've been participating in an online workshop this summer for faculty teaching online courses; it's been a great experience, and I've learned a lot already in the weeks we've been working together. I'm excited that I have the opportunity to put my newfound learning immediately into practice. I'm teaching several online courses this summer, and they start today! One of these courses I've taught several times online before (whew!) and the other, in two sections (high enrollment is a blessing!), is brand new, which is exciting and a little terrifying at the same time.

Developing a new course is always interesting. Crafting the syllabus, selecting readings, trying to decide what assessment tasks will allow my students the best opportunities to show what they have learned...I thoroughly enjoy it, but it is time-consuming and a little stressful as well. And then, suddenly, the course is "live." Here we go!

Some of the things we've learned, I've already been doing. For instance, I've been using a module structure for my courses, which really does help to keep me organized and my students on task. Also, I've been using module guides for the past couple summers at least (I think this is my fourth summer teaching online? It's hard to remember for sure...) Again, these are very useful for keeping students on track for meeting the learning objectives for each module.

There have been some new ideas that I've scrounged from this course though that I'm already putting into practice. I'm planning on using a few new tools that I've never tried for an online course before, including Jing and GoogleHangouts and GoogleDrive. I've taken a note from the instructor of our workshop and I'm using video introductions for each module in the hope that this makes more of a personal connection. And while I've used groups before in my online courses, I'm being a little more thoughtful and intentional about how I'm going to use them: we're going to start small (just in pairs) and then I'll combine some pairs into quartets. Hopefully, this will help to build some more relationships in the class as well--always a challenging aspect to teaching an online course!

Will this all transform my online teaching overnight? Well...I hope it's going to be better than ever before, but I'm trying to be realistic as well. I suppose my course evaluations will tell the whole story!

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