ECLearn Modular Course Structure

What is a Module?

Modules is a feature in Canvas/ECLearn used for building the main structure of a course. Many teachers, however, use instead the Pages feature, which is just a wiki content page and is not the most efficient way to create internal course organization and navigation. A module (as seen below) can be used to organize a course by weeks, content units, chapters, topics, etc. It displays its components in a table of contents format where each item is a clickable link to an actual course element like an assignment or an external web link. Modules is a better organizational and navigational tool for all course items than the Pages tool, because it can contain not only content pages, but files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and any other learning materials that one would like to use in their course design.


Module Snapshot

A snapshot of the two modules in an ECLearn course template (copy/paste the following link to access the template – https://eclearn.emmanuel.edu/courses/1546006). Click the image to view it enlarged.


A teacher can easily add items to a module that have already been created in the course, or create new items on the fly within the module. This allows for course re-structure while developing new learning materials.

In addition in Modules, every item has navigational buttons at the bottom – one for the previous and one for the next sequential item.


Page Prev-Next Buttons snapshot

The bottom of the page displays ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons for sequential navigation within a module. The buttons appear not only for content pages, but for any type of item: quizzes, assignments, discussions, external links, downloadable files, etc. Click the image to view it enlarged.


Tips for Working with Modules:

  • Modules can be accessed by clicking the Modules button in the Course Tool Menu along the left side of any course. One may also choose to have the Modules page as a course Home page.
  • Modules can easily be reordered to fit the flow of the course by simply dragging and dropping. Items within the modules can also be reorganized by dragging and dropping.
  • Modules can be released on specific dates, being locked (hidden) until a future date. If a module is set to release on a specific date, students will be able to see a list of the module’s items, but the list will be grayed out and will remain inaccessible until the release date.
  • One can also set up prerequisites, e.g. a module cannot be accessed until a previous module has been completed (see the example in the first image above).
  • With modules, a teacher can create a one-directional linear flow of what students should do. This way students must complete each item (reading/viewing a page, submitting a paper assignment, making a discussion posting, scoring a specific grade on a quiz) in a sequential order. Consider setting requirements. 
  • Using Text Headers (example below) is a great way to visually distinguish module items by grouping/categorizing them in the module.

text header snapshot

The “3.2 Communication Strategies” and “3.3 Collaboration Strategies” are text headers. Click the image to view it enlarged.


Additional Help Resources:

  • Organize your course by unit, topic, chapter, or week by using Canvas Guides on Modules.
  • The following worksheet can be of a great help in the process of structuring a course online components by aligning learning objectives and learning activities for every module.

For more information on Modules, watch the following videos from Instructure on Vimeo:


Canvas offers a collection of courses as examples of the learning management system. The following link leads to sample courses that have three different type of structures: Types of Canvas courses: Module-based, Page-based, and Self-Guided.

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Faculty Spotlight: Kelly Grant – A Successful Hybrid Course Design Example

Instructor: Kelly Grant, MSIB

Course: Strategic Management, MGMT 4303

The capstone course is designed to demonstrate the connection between Corporate Social Responsibility, Operations, Marketing, Financial Management, and Organizational Structure when formulating a long term business-level or corporate strategy. In order to maintain a high level of rigor, numerous activities are incorporated into the Strategic Management course.  These activities are completed both in and out of the classroom. Here are a couple of examples:

Online Simulation Game

Throughout the term students apply textbook concepts in an online Business Strategy simulation game where they make a variety of decisions on manufacturing plant locations, cross-border trade, utilizing celebrity endorsements for their products, e-commerce, and more.  The simulation game brings out their competitive nature and interest in course content however most students seem to demonstrate passion in their discussion board posts which tend to focus on the correlation between Corporate Social Responsibility, Profitability, and Shareholder Value.

Online Discussions and an End-of-Semester Reflective Paper

There are approximately ten discussion board posts throughout the term where students are asked to create an initial post early in the week and to make at least two engagement posts (commenting on the threads of their peers) by the end of the week.  Students are graded on the timeliness of their posts, their involvement in the threads of their peers, demonstration of critical thinking, application of course concepts, and writing mechanics.  Students are also encouraged to support their opinion with outside resources, which often leads to links to current articles on the discussion topic.

At the end of the term students are asked to complete a reflection paper on the topics of Corporate Social Responsibility, Profitability, and Shareholder Value.  Students often comment that they referred back to the discussion posts while compiling the reflection paper. They feel that the discussion board allowed them to not only participate in a discussion on the assigned topic, but to consider varying perspectives as they read and reflected upon the posts of their peers. The discussion board has been a valuable teaching tool that I highly recommend, particularly in a blended or online environment.


For more information on Hybrid Course Design, contact us: at@emmanuel.edu.

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Faculty Spotlight: Jaime Vidaurrazaga – Collectively Prepared Study Guides Using ECLearn Discussions and Pages

Instructor: 
Jaime Vidaurrazaga, PhD.
Assistant Professor of Theology & Religious Studies

Courses:
THRS1103 Exploring Catholic Theology, THRS 1111 Exploring the Bible, THRS2203 Jesus & Christian Ethics, THRS2213 Latin American Liberation Theology, FYS1101.57 Christian Morality in the Roman World

About the Project/Idea/Tool:
Two seemingly unrelated concerns about more efficacious teaching/learning in Dr. Vidaurrazaga’s class, led him to develop the project he is sharing with Emmanuel College community here:

“1) Different kinds of learners find different learning activities engaging and they excel in different kinds of assessments. For this reason, I like to offer a variety of learning activities in my courses so that different kinds of learners all have a chance to excel and to demonstrate their learning and their effort throughout the semester. Applying this principle to the “participation”/”active engagement” component of my grading, I realized that I needed to offer opportunities for engagement/participation that would be appealing to students who do not necessarily feel comfortable speaking out in front of the whole class. I tried proposing topics for discussion online, but I got very low levels of participation. I then tried to establish mandatory levels of participation in those online discussions, but some of the students (those who more easily speak during class and already participate in that way) found it redundant and a form of “busy work.”

2) Students often assume a more active role in synthesizing the knowledge they have acquired in the class when they are preparing for a quiz or an exam, but that process does not normally take place during class, when they have easy/immediate access to the instructor to clarify anything that is not clear in their notes or anything that they may have missed during class or in their individual reading of the textbook or assigned reading materials. While holding “study sessions” before quizzes and exams would be an effective way to address this issue, this strategy requires all the students to be able to meet at the same time, and the faculty member to be present during that meeting, both of which can lead to a scheduling nightmare.

My idea then was to use the “discussions” feature of ECLearn to hold the equivalent of an ongoing (diachronic) study session involving all the students in the class and me, between the time I post the study guide for the quiz/exam and the night before the quiz/exam takes place. Students are encouraged to post any questions they may have as they prepare for the quiz/exam and to post answers to other students’ questions. All postings count as instances of class participation/active engagement, whether their answers are right on target, incomplete or even wrong (no judgment). My commitment to the students is that I will review periodically their postings and that I will answer any unanswered questions, and edit/correct/complete any of the posted answers that need correcting/completing so they all can fully trust the content of the collectively prepared study guide as they review it the day before their quiz/exam.

Another way to do this in ECLearn is to post the study guide in the “pages” format and allow all students in the class “editing” privileges. The class as a whole then uses the page as a wiki, in which they all post answers to the questions in the study guide, definitions/descriptions of the terminology used, and other such study materials. Once again, all postings right or wrong are credited with participation points, and in this case I do not post answers to any of the questions in the study guide unless someone in the class has at least tried to post an answer (right or wrong) first.

In my personal experience, it is better to use the “discussions” feature in the beginning of the semester and to introduce the “pages” one only later in the semester (I typically use it for the last quiz and for the final exam).  While the “pages” version offers great possibilities for students to formulate and synthesize their knowledge in their postings, it has the possible downside of giving less dutiful and hardworking students the idea that they don’t need to take notes in class because they will have excellent study materials available to them through the hard work of others in the class when time comes to prepare for the test anyways.

Goals:

  • To increase the level of participation in learning activities and engagement with the content of the course.
  • To offer avenues for participation/engagement for students who are not comfortable speaking up in front of the whole class or answering questions on the spot.
  • To encourage cooperation and mutual support within the course.
  • To support the students’ learning in general and preparation for quizzes and exam in particular.
  • To provide the kind of revision and clarification that one could offer in a study session in a way that is accessible to students diachronically and wherever they happen to study more efficiently.

Technology Requirements:
The only technology required is already built into ECLearn in the tools called “discussions” and “pages.”

Outcome:
I have been using these and similar tools is most of the courses I teach for several years now. The previous content management system we used offered a “discussions” tool, and I used to use websites offering free “wikis” for educational purposes to do what I do now with the “pages” feature of ECLearn. For this reason, it is a little hard for me to notice the increase in online participation in my courses and the improvement in students’ performance in quizzes and exams anymore. For this reason, I am very appreciative of Teodora Hristov’s and the rest of the ATIG team’s recognition of the relatively high level of student engagement in online discussions and collaborative work on “pages” in my courses, because their feedback encourages me to continue using these tools in my courses and to search for other means to further engage my students in online collaboration in the work they do preparing for quizzes and exams.

I can also say that many of my students choose to enroll in a second class with me after having had me as a teacher and when they do they often ask on the first day of the semester if I am going to use “discussions” and “pages” for quiz and exam preparation in this course as well. In interpret their interest in asking about this as a sign that the students in general find these initiatives helpful.”

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Tech Tip: Using Etherpad for Student Collaboration

Emmanuel College’s ECLearn (Canvas learning management system) allows for easy integration with external tools.

One application offered under the “Collaborations” tool menu is Etherpad. As described on etherpad.org, this is “a highly customizable open source online editor providing collaborative editing in really real-time.”

Etherpad is a tool similar to a Google Docs document. It opens as a blank wiki page where multiple users can participate at the same time. Once online, each pad contributor can communicate with others via a chat. Each member can be anonymous or identified by their name associated with the colored text they input. The color is automatically assigned, but users can pick their choice if they wish. Just like a wiki page, students can look at previously saved versions of the document.

etherpad snapshotEthepad can be imported and exported as HTML page, plain text, MS Word doc, PDF, ODF, or DokuWIki. An interesting feature is the timer that is a recording of a real-time version of the page editing process. A saved version can be replayed unlimited times to see who did what and when. The pad can be also embedded and shared as a link. This allows for creating collaborative spaces that are web-based, which allows for different users to edit the same version of a document without having to save separate copies of it; possibly, it also avoids the necessity to attribute ownership of the final result, because it is all self-evident.


This Fall semester, ATIG noticed two faculty who implemented Etherpad in their ECLearn courses. In a Business course, the instructor (Kelly Grant) had students brainstorm ideas using the tool on a course level. (For more on this particular professor’s pedagogy and course design, check out Faculty Spotlight section where the faculty member will be featured in December 2014.)

Another teacher – Prof. Ana Otero – used Etherpad differently. In her Biology course, she grouped the students in pairs and gave them the option to select a topic of interest to develop their case study. Students used the tool to collaborate within their group. Each member was tasked to research and contribute to the story, so the end result would be a mixed input illustrating the work of the two participants whose intertwined thoughts are laid out in writing in pre-determined format. Not everyone used the tool as intended. Some worked individually and their work displayed no evidence of mutual effort. Others collaborated in person and delivered a final result posted by one of the two members. And yet others, used the tool properly to edit each others postings in order to improve the final outcome.

There are more examples of online collaborative work using this particular tool. What are yours? To find out more about other collaborative tools, check out the How-To @ Emmanuel EClearn course where all academic technologies offered to faculty are listed. Have questions? Email us at at@emmanuel.edu.

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The Role of The Teacher in Blended Learning

The term student-centered learning has gained a lot of popularity nowadays along with other ideas such as flipping the classroom, interactive learning, multimedia learning… Not so long ago a traditional course was considered a face to face more or less one-way interaction between a teacher and students. The teacher lectures. Students watch, listen, and may take notes. They may even participate in conversation if prompted by the instructor. However, in recent years with academic technology advancement, learning management systems and many web tools have been widely used in most higher education institutions. This allowed for moving certain learning practices in online environment which brought a paradigm shift in our understanding of what quality learning means. Interactivity is understood twofold – as increased interaction between students with faculty and students with students, and also as increased interaction between students and content, especially content provided electronically. Hybrid and online courses allow for more interactivity than in the traditional course format simply because there are more options for communication and interaction available.

Blended courses are format where 50 to 70% learning activities are done out of class, either online using academic technologies or in the physical world in the form of field trips, reports, interviews, projects, etc. Hybrid courses allow for time flexibility, diversifying of the activity channels, and increased students participation and interaction. Learners become more responsible and organized in their efforts. Their learning is more independent, proactive, and varied. Their learning revolves around them and how much they invest in it. Blended learning holds a greater risk and challenge to both teachers and students, but ultimately, it brings greater results.

For students the challenge is in better time organization. Some find it difficult to keep up with the readings and homework when they are not due in class. They are not used to perform on time and/or as efficiently when there is not an immediate response and feedback from a teacher. They take time to place equal importance to any out of class activities. Students also report difficulties organizing their own learning and keep track of tasks, because of the dual nature of instruction – via LMS and via live instructor. It is challenging to increase efforts that come with variety of information and communication channels. At the end, however, hybrid format of learning reflects better meta-learning results, because students improve their ways of acquiring knowledge and become more efficient in organizing their time and efforts.

The role of the teacher in hybrid course is even bigger than that in a face to face course, because teacher’s responsibility is no longer just to teach on topic, but to design in advance a learning process where students will learn how to be more independent as they move along the curriculum. Bigger time investment and preparation in course development is a challenge to teachers who are also challenged with learning how to use academic technology effectively. Having said that, the role of the teacher is increased and becomes multi-layered in blended courses as the teacher is the designer of student-centered learning. The instructor needs to by a guide who set clear expectations about course work and quality of learning, communication and presentation; a facilitator to students individual and group activities; a leader in all their learning endeavors regardless of environment; a consultant who is present in physical and virtual space to all in need of redirection and help; a mentor who finds and makes learning relevant to each individual in order to keep students engaged and ultimately improve their learning outcomes.

The role of the teacher is to make students become independent learners and thus prepare them for the world where they will continue on their life-long journey of learning. People may think learning ends with the end of their official academic life. Actually it never ends. It is just not made a priority anymore as work and other life events take most of their days. Eventually however, well-developed meta-learning skills like time and study organization, responsibility and courage to face new learning challenges, will become appreciated facilitators of job well done and of life progress in general. And all this thanks to the initial careful guidance of the Teacher.

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Learning Merit: About Digital Badges

ATIG’s new badging initiative might leave you wondering: what are badges? What is the place of these digital badges in the learning environment?

merit-badges-v2

While a GPA is one measure of student success, what does that number let us know about the student’s pathway to graduation? Badges tell a story of an individual’s unique skills and achievements during their academic career, painting a clearer picture of who that learner is and what learning objectives she has completed.

Digital badging is catching on not only in higher education. Stack Overflow, a web community where computer programmers of all levels ask and answer questions and receive help, awards badges based on user expertise and helpfulness. These badges award community members for being good citizens of this digital community.

Beyond telling a student’s story and encouraging good digital citizenship, badging makes learning fun. Badges give tangible form to the sense of achievement we feel when mastering a skill and progressing to a new challenge. Overcoming challenges is rewarded, and learners can “level up” to more advanced challenges – just like in a video game.

Want to learn more? Check out some further reading:

Carey, Kevin (November 2, 2012). Show Me Your Badge. The New York Times, retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/show-me-your-badge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Carey, Kevin (April 8, 2012). A Future Full of Badges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/A-Future-Full-of-Badges/131455/

EduCause Learning Initiative (June 2012). 7 Things You Should Know About Badges. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7085.pdf

Raths, David (June 20, 2013). How Badges Really Work in Higher Education. Campus Technology, retrieved from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2013/06/20/How-Badges-Really-Work-in-Higher-Education.aspx

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Faculty Spotlight: Richard White – Online Video Conferencing

Instructor: Richard J. White

Course: HRM/MSM 9019 OL Negotiation and Conflict Management

About the Project: This course uses simulated negotiation exercises focused on problems in a management/human relations environment to provide negotiations experiences. These experiences are then analyzed using course materials and group discussions. The analysis is formalized in a weekly reflection paper.

I had taught this course in a face-to-face format at Emmanuel before being asked to convert it into an online course. I had some misgivings concerning the effectiveness of teaching negotiation without interpersonal contact, but I discovered in teaching the course that many of the negotiation skills translated well into exchanges of proposals, counterproposals, questions, and rationale using typewritten posts. I have discovered that there are materials available which assist the students with particular skills designed to enhance their ability to negotiate in an online format. However, in the process of providing feedback, a number of students expressed a desire to develop their skills in face to face negotiations.

When the college transitioned to EC Learn, the enhanced video capabilities of the platform made it possible to have negotiations conducted by asynchronous video post and real-time video conference. In becoming experienced with these capabilities, I decided to try to expand the negotiation experiences in the course into the face-to-face arena.

Goals: My goal was to provide both text based and face-to-face negotiation experiences in the context of my online course using the EC Learn platform without detracting from the workload scheduling flexibility which is important to many online students.

Technology Requirements: In addition to the computer equipment necessary for an online course, each student needed access to a video camera with audio capabilities. Otherwise, no special technology was required beyond that provided through the EC Learn platform.

ConferenceTool_snapshotOutcomes: The first contact which each of my students has with the course is to introduce themselves to their classmates. In order to appraise the technological ability of my students, as well as the quality of the video equipment available to them, I requested that each student make their introduction by video post. I also posted mine by video post both to share the experience with them, and to test my own abilities and technology. This initial activity was a success for all parties involved.

Similarly, the first negotiation exercise is a simple negotiation between two friends concerning one friend selling a fax machine which they cannot use to another. I decided to continue to test the video format by configuring this negotiation exercise to be contacted by asynchronous video post. I required that all communication between the students be conducted by video post. No emails or text postings were to be used. This activity was also a success in that all negotiations were completed without technical difficulties or extensive delays. This was extremely important to the course because each student must have a negotiation experience which they can use as a vehicle to analyze the particular skills being emphasized in a module. As a result of the success, I carried the video format followed throughout the remainder of the course.

I ran into some difficulties with an exercise where there was a requirement that students work out their bargaining positions as negotiating teams before communicating them to their opposing team. The difficulty largely resulted from the fact that negotiation by video is slower than negotiation by text because it is difficult for many students to make video posts or engage in conferencing when they have a small amount of available time at work, work odd hours, and/or lack good video equipment at home. I addressed this issue in each negotiation by allowing students who could not use video in a timely fashion to use text to communicate when necessary. This modification made the process work within the weekly class format without undue delay. It was interesting to note that no students abandoned the video format.

The final negotiating exercise in the course is the mediation of the termination of an employee for allegedly engaging in sexually harassing conduct. In this exercise, I serve as the mediator and the students serve as the representatives of the company and the employee. Because of my previous difficulties in the team format, I decided to modify this exercise to be a one-on-one negotiation with one representative of the company negotiating with one employee representative. (I use an employee representative rather than the employee to avoid putting any student in the position of having to defend themselves as a sexual harasser.) I used the conference function of EC Learn to conduct the mediations. The conference function of EC Learn was flexible enough to allow me to set up joint conferences where all parties were present, and private conferences for each party to meet with the mediator in each mediation. Conferences were scheduled by appointment just as they would have been in an actual mediation. Despite the fact that I had some technical issues due to my inexperience with the platform, I found the mediation to be as effective and realistic as I had been able to reproduce in the face-to-face course. All parties settled, and the settlements were quite realistic.

At the conclusion of the course, I sought feedback from my students as to the effectiveness of the experience in their view, and any negative impact which the video format had on their experience as online students. I solicited this feedback after the course had closed and grades were awarded as I did not wish to influence any responses. I received responses from five out of eight students who unanimously endorsed of using video to provide realistic negotiation experiences. It was interesting to note that some of those who responded were those who had some difficulties with the format from time to time as the course progressed. On the negative side, each commented that the interchanges were slowed by the video, but went on to state that the positive aspects of using the video capabilities of EC Learn to teach negotiations far outweighed the negatives.

From an instructional perspective, I was able to assist students in improving the communication skills used in negotiating in both competitive and cooperative situations. Because this course teaches practice as well as theory, I believe that the addition of the video experiences enhanced the learning experience for the students.

I intend to continue to refine the use of video in my future courses.

I would like to thank Teddy Hristov and Cynthia Brennan for providing me with extensive help with the technological aspects of this project. They were both knowledgeable and patient in getting me through my first experiences with the video aspects of EC learn.

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Writing Measurable Learning Objectives

To define how to write measurable learning objectives, we should answer first what a learning objective means. There is an inconsistency in literature about terms like learning goalslearning objectives, and learning outcomes, because they overlap in meaning. Another reason is because they have slightly different meaning based on whether we see them as program goals, objectives, and outcomes or whether we mean lesson specific learning goals, objectives, and outcomes. Exploring the meaning of each of these three terms we will lead us to the notion of why writing measurable learning objectives is important to design a pedagogically sound lesson.

A learning goal is the stated desired result, the intent to be achieved upon the end of a learning process. In both a program and a course, a description refers to the purpose and reasons of existence of the designed instruction. Learning goals are usually included in the description as general statements that relate to the selection of instructional strategies and assessment methods; the goals are the intended learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes are connected to assessment of learning; they are the achieved results – the gained skills, knowledge, or values initially described with the general learning goals and the specific learning objectives. In a bigger scale, learning outcomes overlap in meaning with learning goals. The alignment of program goals puts in perspective the learning process. Learning outcomes set faculty and student expectations and define the role of the student during the time one is in school and after graduation.

Learning objectives pertain to the specificity of the design of a course or program as foundational blueprint components. They may or may not exist if only learning goals/outcomes are outlined. Learning objectives in a bigger scale are the learning goals broken down to outline specific outcomes.

In comparison, in a smaller scale – within a lesson – the terms learning objectives and learning outcomes can be used interchangeably, because both refer to the specific results of the performed learning activities. The former refers to intended results, the latter to achieved results. Learning goals pertain to the lesson topic and general purpose of the lesson, while both learning objectives and learning outcomes are very specific.

So, whether created for a program, a course, or a lesson, learning objectives are specific statements that describe acquired abilities. Learning objectives show the connection between actions that lead to the end results and the desired end results themselves.

Many times, however, when writing objectives, instructors describe the instructional activities rather the intended results thus converting the learning objectives to teaching objectives. It is important to note  that the objectives are to guide students in how well they are supposed to perform. Level of performance defines level of learning. So, setting learning objectives is about students’ learning. It is not about the lesson plan (course blueprint), it is not about the structure of the learning process (instructional strategy), or the subject matter (curriculum), but it is about the correlation of aligning the goals with the outcomes by aligning the learning activities with their assessment. Learning Objectives set expectations of tangible results of learning. Objectives should be measurable to gauge the amount and difficulty of instructional materials, activities and assessment. They should include the conditions and the criteria to measure performance.

Learning Objectives are the end statements, not the means. Each learning objective in the lesson should describe what students will be able to do at the end of a learning activity. I prefer to use the term objective to outcome, because it implies more initial control rather than just dealing with the results. Also, an outcome could refer to the lesson as a whole, but an objective should refer to each instructional strategy utilized in the lesson. Objectives correspond to demonstrated abilities, not to the learning processes. How can an ability be demonstrated? An ability can be demonstrated when it can be assessed during performance. Therefore the easiest path to write measurable learning objectives that describe the desired observable demonstration is to include a verb in each statement. Even if the outcome is covert, the objective should be a verb that indicates a behavior that can be measured directly; the accomplishment of the learning objective is assessed indirectly this way.

In most cases a learning goal as a general statement is accompanied with several specific learning objectives. These objectives are further broken down to even more specific learning activities that construct the lesson’s instructional strategy. The verbs in the objectives often illustrate the nature of the activity and its assessment. What distinguishes a learning objective from a learning activity is that the first is an intended demonstrated ability (end result) and the second is a scaffolding building block of a learning process. One learning objective can be achieved with more than one learning activity based on the level of difficulty, conditions and performance/assessment criteria. The art of teaching includes the ability to determine the level of difficulty and to apply creative design techniques in order to sustain flexibility throughout the length of the learning process (class, semester, program).

Writing measurable learning objectives depends on the successful alignment of all pedagogical components within a lesson and a program. Contact ATIG for examples and support, or sign up for a training session in September 2014.

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Faculty Café

Snack time. Yes, there will also be fruit.

I’m a big believer in the afternoon snack – that “little something” to keep you going.  And, just as our bodies can need a pick-me-up, our brains can use a bite-size bit of learning or new information to refresh and re-inspire.  So, down here at ATIG, we thought: “Why not combine the two? It could be the next best thing since Reese’s put peanut butter and chocolate together.”  (Mmm, Reese’s…)

We were also motivated by faculty comments.  Many faculty members have said to us that they wish there were more opportunities to share information with colleagues in an informal way.  And so, Faculty Café* is born.  Faculty Café is a weekly chance to drop in, have a home-made snack, a little coffee or tea, and share information with colleagues about teaching strategies.  Or get suggestions from your fellow teachers on how to solve a problem you’ve encountered.  Or ask us a quick question. We’ll have a few conversation triggers available to inspire you – but you own this time.  Nothing formal, no commitments — if you just want a cookie, that’s okay too.

The first Faculty Café is scheduled for Wednesday, September 10 at 3 pm in WSC 113. 

*We were going to call it “Snack and Share” but thought maybe it sounded a little pre-school.
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Backward Instructional Design Model

Instructional Design is a term that refers to systematically designed instruction with or without the use of educational technology. Instructional Design 101 is a four-part series description of “the process of assessing learning needs and applying the appropriate learning strategy to meet those needs.” The ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) model is explained in detail. There are many other pedagogical models. For example, the Backward Model, summarized below is popular in blended and online course design.

When teachers plan out their course structure and curriculum (with or without the support of instructional designers,) teachers design their instruction blueprint. They may use concept mapping, storyboarding, or other techniques to scaffold and sequence lessons; they may utilize a learning management system (like Canvas/ECLearn) to plan out the delivery of learning experiences; they may use other academic technologies to provide nurturing environment for (personal and academic) educational growth and achievement.

Backward Instructional Design Model

To develop your course blueprint, start with the learning outcomes (knowledge, skills) or what students will gain upon successful completion of the course. Then determine acceptable evidence or how these outcomes will be assessed. 

Other key course components that define course learning experience are the course goals and objectives. Goals refer to the course description and outcomes. Objectives refer to the specific visible and measurable actions students perform to achieve learning goals. Defining instructional strategies or learning activities that students will do to successfully meet the course learning objectives are the answers to how you design instruction wrapped around the subject matter and how you assess learning.

Pedagogy should always lead technology, so it is important to determine what a course is about first and then find the appropriate media channels for development and implementation. Only after creating the context of the course, should you proceed with identifying educational technologies that support each instructional strategy. This means you need to not only align content, objectives, and learning activities, but also, when applicable, select which technology and which learning activity correspond with each other. Reasons for selection of instructional media should be transparent to students. By providing rationale for course setup and by providing course expectations, you will help students organize their learning (and time) better and see its relevance to their personal educational goals. The course should also include a schedule (timeline) with learning activities. This all goes in the syllabus, because syllabus is the course blueprint summary.

The following crossword puzzle is created to introduce a couple of new instructional design terms gaining more popularity nowadays as new pedagogical approaches and emerging technologies. Check for yourself to see where you stand in regard to what’s new in the higher ed field.

Check out the crossword puzzle at http://justcrosswords.com/Instructional_Design_custom34763.html

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