Who cares about course completion?

In his blog, Courses or Learning Episodes, Steve Wheeler, provided much food for thought. The instructional design course that I facilitate online does not have as a goal course completion by all students. The goal is simply to provide a source of just in time learning experiences presented in a context that encourages learners to recognize the importance of remaining conscious of overarching goals; goals that far transcend any specific subject.
An essential question is how do we design learning experiences with the ultimate goal of progressively requiring less and less directed learning or structure from course facilitators? I think most teachers enter the field with the goal of helping students to discover and strengthen their voice by encouraging them to exercise their voice. However, along the way that goal becomes greatly over shadowed as we attempt to adhere to program and course guidelines that unnaturally restrict learning experiences by discipline or subject as opposed to teaching holistically. Of course teaching holistically demands collaboration and transparency, 2 things that are often challenging to implement regardless of the learning environment.
I think conversations related to education reform efforts should be more about identifying and exploiting the unique value different learning environments provide which support the design of authentic learning experiences. Thankfully, the options for how we present lessons is virtually endless. However, if the students are not engaged and actively interacting with the course materials; they are just that: course materials. Learning can only be exhibited as a result of the interaction.

ABCs of Instructional Design

I recently launched a course on instructional design based on the ADDIE and UBD instructional design models. The course has been setup on several sites so that I can evaluate the designer tools offered in each learning environment. I am experimenting with the tools of 3 different learning management systems: Moodle, Blackboard, and Desire2Learn. It has been interesting to observe how drastically the look and feel of the course changes from platform to platform. I also setup the course in Udemy. Udemy offers a wide variety of online courses including The ABCs of Instructional Design, facilitated by yours truly. I think I just about have the course organized the way I want it. It’s amazing how different a course that you have been designing for years looks when you start seeing it through the eyes of new students!

Reflections on Moodle MOOC 6/29/13

I am still trying to get my bearings because the MOOC assignments are hosted in several different learning environments. Sometimes when I am asked to respond to a discussion post or blog, I’m not sure which environment I am supposed to be working in. Today I have spent some time working in the practice area setting up course units using the Moodle “book” resource. So far, I think I am going to like this format. I generally use the “page” resource to setup up overview pages, but this can tend to result in a long string of Unit tasks and I want to find an alternative. Sometimes seeing too much information at one time can be overwhelming for students. The book format will allow me to focus their attention on the topic at hand.

Reflections on Moodle MOOC

So far so good! I just started the self-paced course and I find it to be interesting as well as challenging! Being introduced to many new tools and the Moodle platform is a bit overwhelming at times! Of course, I just have to remind myself to slow down and remember it’s self-paced. The Moodle MOOC includes 3 components that I strive to include in my course design: self-reflection, active learning, and social engagement!

Understanding by Design

Please visit my Understanding By Design webpages to gain a greater understanding of how the UBD design model can be used to create comprehensive study units. The principle purpose of these pages is to establish a forum for the collaborative development of middle school science units. The unit currently under development is for 6th grade Earth Science students studying the Theory of Plate Tectonics. Join in the development process by using the blog to ask questions or share activity ideas, instructional strategies, and instructional tools!