Headless Open Course

I am excited about exploring a new MOOC I discovered via Stephen Downes OLDaily blog. The concept and structure (or lack of structure) is extremely unique so at this point I am not even going to attempt to describe it. Check it out for yourself. I’ll be sharing my experiences as I go along! Let me know if you decide to join the headless!

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.

Managing Your Online Presence

Trying to manage a personal and professional online presence has become a bit of nightmare! I’m all over the place (i.e. linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, personal blog, personal website, course Facebook page, course Google Group, and various learning management system communication platforms).

For one reason or another, I need them all! Each platform has different pros and cons! Not only that, I am targeting different audiences on the platforms so the message is not the same! I’ve got to find a better way to streamline my online communications. At this point, I’m beginning to confuse myself!

Anybody got any tips for teachers on successfully managing your online presence?


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!

Changing Roles in Education

While reading the article, Investigating the Effect(s) of Technology Integration on Teaching Practices that May Lead to the Development of a Community of Learners by Julie Machnaik (http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/802papers/machnaik/machnaik.pdf), it made me think: Educators often dictate to students exactly what they should know (in the name of objectives), but should that be their primary role? Perhaps an educator’s role should be to help students better articulate and communicate what they already know, allowing them to know and understand the value of knowing it. In other words, what benefit is it to you and/or others to understand what you are communicating.

Pleasant Surprise

Recently, we started exploring ways to use our learning management system to facilitate greater collaboration, particularly asynchronous communication. Today I was pleasantly surprised to see that a faculty member had opened a discussion post that inspired feedback from other members. With faculty being so over committed, being open to virtual discussion and collaboration will create so many more opportunities for interaction. It’s only the tip of the iceberg, but imagining the potential is very exciting!!