Saturday, February 3, 2018

Digital Course Design in a Nutshell- Eye on the prize!



As our upper school teachers start the process of using Canvas at our school, the tech department has started meeting with them to help them create their courses. Our CTO found a really great Canvas "how to" course in the Commons area of Canvas and we are having our teachers go through these modules and submit assignments throughout the process. The wonderful thing about this is that the process actually leads to the creation of their own courses at the same time. Learning that leads to usable end results!

This past week we started the overview of what Canvas looks like and some teachers chose to jump right in and start the Canvas Camp modules. As I have been reflecting on this week I am excited about the support for our teachers that is embedded in their school day. I am also thankful for the excitement many see in using this new platform.

Some of the questions that keep popping up in my mind in regards to our sessions include:

  • What does good digital design look like?
  • How does one accomplish the task at hand in a timely manner?
  • What should the interface look like from the student view?
  • How do we create patterns of efficiency for our teachers, students, and parents that don't  undermine the teacher's autonomy of making the class "their own."
As teachers move forward with creating their Canvas courses, this is a great time to reflect on what you are currently doing and adjust the lessons you might feel need more "uumph." I also think starting this process with some goals and processing steps in mind will be helpful as well. These things came to mind as I assessed teacher interaction this week:
  • Collect your resources FIRST. You know what you need to teach your units, put those resources all in one place so that you aren't spending all your time going back and forth looking for the next file. 
  • Be mindful of copyright laws. Using PDFs and third-party curriculum can be tricky for online course content. As a rule, if you are unsure a link that takes you to the curriculum outside of your module tends to be the safe bet. Some of our teachers have actually contacted third-party vendors to make sure they are using things the correct way. You might want to look into that. Lastly, as long as it is contained for your students and you haven't made your work public (allowed access to it through the Canvas commons, for example) you tend to be safe.
  • What's your timeframe? For our teachers, a timeframe has been placed upon them but if you are like me, it might be a good idea to break that down for yourself so that:
    • You aren't overwhelmed in May when that imposed timeframe is checked.
    • You can storyboard your goals to help you prioritize the things most important to you.
    • You've created the opportunities needed and have the ability to look deeper at the robustness of the LMS and how you might tap into it more
  • Check out your course mapping. This is a timely opportunity to make sure the objectives you have tagged in your mapping of your course are actually being taught and met. It's very easy to change part of your classroom goals over time based on new initiatives and feedback and forget to update the mapping. 
  • Create your learning objectives and outline a course level module. Make it clear what the expectations are for your students. As you start aligning the objectives with tasks, take a look at Bloom's taxonomy or a Depth of Knowledge (DOK) chart to make sure your objectives are measurable. Each module should probably have 3-5 objectives. Now is your chance to think out your process for teaching your curriculum and have lessons plans made that would allow a sub to step in with embedded direction while you are out with the flu or whatever! It's even possible that if you start the new year out explaining your Canvas class structure to your students, sub days will still be highly interactive learning days. 
  • Plan for interaction. Map your modules. You've checked your objective goals for the unit, now how will you get to them? You have a vocabulary to share, overarching ideas to get across, key concepts to tap into, and the ability to use formative and summative assessment. Which parts of what I am trying to accomplish would benefit from this platform? Which parts are expectations of use placed upon me? In Canvas, check out the Commons area on your toolbar. This can allow you to see how other people are using Canvas to create everything from an entire course to the pieces of a module. The Commons allows you to borrow ideas and pull them into your modules and make them your own as well. It's a wealth of help if for nothing more than to kickstart your brain when you are stuck or to see how others are teaching ideas.    The Canvas toolbar for your class gives you some immediate ideas! Do you want to tap into:
    • Discussions
    • Collaborations
    • Assignments
    • Quizzes
    • Conferences
    • Share files, pages, or Google Drive options?                  
  •  Get ready to assess. Push your boundaries on what best assessment might look like for the module at hand- perhaps it isn't true/false, multiple choice but maybe it is. Also, take this opportunity to decide what the purpose of your assessments are. Is it to see what the students learned, or is it to see what you and the student need to go over to make sure they know the information forward? Is this formative assessment or summative assessment? Is it for a grade, benchmark or both?  Would a rubric and a speed grader help you give better feedback to your students in a timely manner? Would voice comments help your student? When looking at assessment, look at opportunities for you as an educator to create efficiencies that would allow you more insight into the student learning and time to spend in relational interactions.                                
While you are not currently creating an "online course" you do have the ability to streamline the processes of education that can lead to benefits for both you and your students. Technology will not replace you but looking for ways to replace the tedious might help you to use your time both in and out of the classroom more effectively. 






  Parts of this post adapted from http://ctl.mesacc.edu/teaching/designing-an-online-course/