I recently attended one of Bryan Alexander’s Future Trend’s Forum webinar session (recording on youtube) on apps educators use in their work and in their life and learned about some very interesting apps.

Anti-app App:

  • 🌲Forest: an app to monitor time off phone (for personal use or group use, family use, etc.).
  • 🌺 Flora: (free app) helps you and your friends stay focused on the task together (recommended by my wonderful co-worker Dorothy Loftin)

Apps for teaching and learning:

  • 📈 Desmos: Graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and much more – for free!
  • ➗Algebrabyhand: The most advanced drag and drop algebra tool for the web.
  • 🏃‍♂️Fabulous is a science-based app, incubated in Duke’s Behavioral Economics Lab, that will help you build healthy rituals into your life, just like an elite athlete.
  • 🧘Calm: App for meditation and sleep.
  • 📚Meet Libby: a ground-breaking ebook reader and a beautiful audiobook player to read any book from your local library.
  • 👨‍💻Vuforia Chalk: Vuforia Chalk makes it easy when troubleshooting or expert guidance is needed for situations not covered in training or service manuals.
  • 🈵Lingrotogo: language learning app. LingroToGo is designed to make time devoted to language learning as productive and enjoyable as possible. (The difference between this app and other language learning app is that it is based on educational theory, the developers claim.)
  • 📰Newsmeister: stay current with news challenge quizzes.
  • 👩🏻‍🏫Studytree: StudyTree analyzes students’ grades and behavioral patterns to construct customized recommendations to improve their academic performance. Additionally, StudyTree serves advisors and administrators by providing them managerial access to the application, which enables insight to useful statistics and an overview of each student’s individual progress.
  • 💻Nearpod: Synchronize and control lessons across all student devices
  • Flipgrid: video for student engagement (recently purchased by Microsoft, not sure if any feature will change soon).

Fun Games:

  • Marcopolo: face-to-face messaging app for one-to-one and group conversations—bringing family and friends closer than ever with genuine conversations and moments shared. It could be used for student mock interviews and direct messaging within a group.
  • goosechase: scavenger hunts for the masses.

Productivity:

  • 🎫Tripit: find all your travel plans in one place.
  • 🛍rememberthemilk: the smart to-do app for busy people.
  • wunderlist: the easiest way to get stuff done.
  • 🎧Stitcher: Podcast aggregator allows you to get the latest episodes of your favorite podcasts wherever and whenever you want.
  • 🌐inoreader: The content reader for power users who want to save time.
  • 🎧Overcast: A powerful yet simple podcast player for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, which dynamically shortens silences in talk shows.

Where to keep up with all the new tools and apps?

 

P.S. Icons come from emojipedia.org

If you have handy apps that make your life easier, feel free to share with us. We’d love to hear from you.

Ecampus Faculty Forum 2018

2018 Ecampus Faculty Forum concluded a month ago. However, I am still fascinated by the dedicated quality work our selected online instructors have showcased that day. You can access recorded sessions and view SlideDecks here.

Horticulture instructor Betsey Miller cares deeply about how to provide quality instructor feedback to students who truly want instructor feedback in peer review assignment , trying several rounds of three different ways of keeping students engaged and providing quality feedback

  1. comments in discussion forum
  2. grading rubrics
  3. google form contest with students voting system

College of Business instructor John Morris uses a variety of strategies to prepare students in a career in business: teach students to use word cloud automation of words used in resume to see if their resume uses key words that future employers are looking for; use google collaboration documents to develop professional vocabulary, and peer view of individual case study analysis reports. (image from Canvas LMS Peer Review Tutorial on Peer Review)

History instructor Katherine Hubler goes far and beyond in forming connections with students and making her virtual presence known in her online courses through:

  1. creating personal introduction to difficult topics
  2. getting to know students by downloading roster, identifying where students are residing (off campus, on campus, etc.), special information about particular students from week 1 student introduction discussion forum activity; and put herself out there (so students can see her face, hear her voice through course intro video, weekly intro video, lecture videos, audio clips, etc. )
  3. staying present during the week with timely announcements
  4. providing regular and detailed feedback

Katherine Hubler

College of Business instructor Nikki Brown shared her discoveries of what helps her as an online student when she took a fully online training certificate:

  1. Lectures: notes and transcripts help greatly and she poses a question for online instructors to ponder: what is the point of your lecture?
  2. Textbook vs no textbook: if there is no textbook used, please make sure all the resources are easy to find and are listed in one easy-to-find location as well.
  3. Engage her online students by showing results of opinion polls to the whole class and showing how class performance curves so students know where they stand in the class as compared to their fellow classmates anonymously.
  4. Estimated weekly reading time and estimated completion time for each assignment help students budget/plan study time efficiently.

With the help of Ecampus media developers, Statistics instructor Katie Jager helps all her students succeed in learning by creating visualization models and simulations of statistical applets. Computer Science instructor Terry Roaker uses reflective journals to help students practicing high level critical thinking and evaluating skills.

statistical Modeling

The lunch time keynote speaker, Professor Kevin Gannon, gently persuades us to design for accessible, equitable and dialogic learning, with a lens of inclusive pedagogical perspective.

Together with an interactive ball-passing course design challenge and solutions exchange activity, Ecampus instructional designers’ pedagogy session introduced audience to 12 common pedagogical approaches and listed over 20 approaches and their examples (link to pedagogy and for teaching strategy examples and resources on pedagogy and learning design strategies. 

Jen Beamer from School of Biological and Population Health Sciences and Christine Kelly from College of Engineering shared their success recipe for facilitating engaging role play and debate in online discussion forum.

History instructor Nick Foreman and Ecampus media developer Mark Kindred presented their learner-generated content activity: timeline of Food Origins.

Timeline of Food Origins

If you are exploring online teaching strategies in any of the above areas, feel free to reach out to the instructors who have presented at Faculty Forum. I am sure they would love to share more in detail with you on the specifics of how they made it work for their online courses.

 

 

UDL

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a practical tool for guiding course design to ensure that every learner succeeds, based on scientific insights into how humans learn (cast.org).

As seen from the illustration below, there are three main principles of UDL, namely:

  1. multiple means of representations,
  2. multiple means of engagement, and
  3. multiple means of expressions

UDL

(image by Tianhong Shi, CC0)

There are many applications of UDL design principles in OSU Spring 2018 online courses.

A. Multiple Means of Representations as seen in BA 354 S18’s weekly content planning.

    • reading in text (Chapter 1 of Trevino and Nelson, Managing Business Ethics)
    • listening to podcast (Ponzi Supernova podcast audio from Radio-lab
    • watching instructor lectures in video (Course Introduction)
    • Watching complicated assignment explained in video and graphics:

B. Multiple Means of Engagement as seen in BA 354’s discussion forums and assignment feedback: 

    • Students submit Personal Ethical Action Plan Initial submission – Instructor provides feedback students incorporate feedback from instructor and submit final submission;

Instructor Feedback in Rubrics

  • Discussion forums: students post answers to prompts; students reply to peer classmates’ canvas discussion forum.

C. Multiple Means of Expressions as seen in BB 481/581 S18 and BA 354’s assignments:

  •  3d imageGraphic expression – Assignment #1: Create a three-dimensional image
  • VideoAudio/visual expression – Assignment #2: Create a video to explain what “reciprocal space” mean to you
  •  Text Textual expression – Assignment #3 & #4: Literature search & Quizzes & Discussions & write a letter to a relative to explain why the Fourier transform is so important to NMR spectroscopy
  • ApplicationTextual expression of application – Application type of project: Personal Ethical Action Plan

(Icons from SlidesCarnival’s Solanio template)

If you are interested in applying UDL in your courses, feel free to contact us at  to brainstorm possible applications together.

Sunrise, Eureka, NV, 12/30/2017
Sunrise, Eureka, NV, 12/30/2017, on highway 50, the longliest road in America

Beauty is everywhere and in every moment, if we pay attention. I saw this beautiful sunrise driving by Eureka, Nevada on Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, during the tail of my one-week road trip vacation. Similarly, good teaching practices are flourishing in OSU online courses as we discover from our talks with Ecampus instructors. To inspire you to expand your teaching toolkit, here are some ready to use online teaching tips from the book “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning” by James Lang. 

Teaching Strategies Online Teaching Tips
Retrieving

  • Syllabus Quiz
  • Weekly reading journals
  • Frequent quizzing such as quizlet practices or weekly quizzes
predicting

  • Pretesting with immediate grading and immediate feedback including exposure of content teaching;
  • Role play: how might a person in a different role approach the problem?
  • Asking students to predict what will be covered in next week’s lesson/reading, etc..
 

Interleaving

  • Open or close each class session with small opportunities for students to retrieve older knowledge, to practice skills developed earlier in the course, or to apply old knowledge or skills to new contexts.
  • Weekly mini review session applying that week’s content to some new question or problem.
  • Stagger deadlines and quiz dates to ensure that students benefit from the power of spaced learning.
Connecting

  • Solicit the prior knowledge of your students at the beginning of the term or individual lesson (such as private journaling or public introductory discussion)
  • Ask students to create concept maps that answer questions or solve problems; use concept maps multiple times throughout the semester with different organizational principles.
  • As much as possible, offer examples or cases from everyday or common experience but also – and more importantly – give students the opportunity to provide such examples on their own.
Practicing

  • Before the semester begins, brainstorm a comprehensive list of cognitive skills your students will need to develop to succeed in your course. (Identify Learning outcomes)
  • Prioritize them; decide which ones students will need to develop most immediately and which ones can emerge only after they have developed some basic skills.
  • Review your course schedule and decide where you can make space for small practice sessions in key skills prior to your major assessments; mark those sessions on the syllabus schedule.
  • Prior to any major assessment, ensure that students have had multiple opportunities to practice the skills they will need to do well, from creating slides or writing paragraphs to answering multiple-choice questions.
Self-Explaining

  • For online homework or readings, create spaces for students to self-explain while they work; 
  • When students are demonstrating their homework, create a regular schedule of opportunities or requirements for them to self-explain their process.
  • Use Peer Instruction: students provide an answer, pause and explain it to their peers, and then revise their answers.
  • In all forms of self-explanation, push students to tie their knowledge of information, principles, theories and formula to the specific task they are completing.
Motivating

 

  • Spend time to get to know your students; learn about their lives and their interests, creating a positive social atmosphere in the virtual class space.
  • Open each lesson by eliciting student emotions: give them something to wonder about, tell them a story, present them with a shocking fact or statistic. Capture their attention and prepare their brains for learning.
  • Consider how practitioners in your field, or the skills you are teaching them, help make a positive difference in the world; remind them continually about the possibilities that their learning can do the same, from the opening of the course.
  • Keep the overarching purpose of any lesson/ learning activity in view while students are working. Make it clear why they are doing this activity.
  • Show enthusiasm for your discipline, for individual texts or problems or units, and for your hope that they will find them as fascinating as you do.
Growing

  • Provide early success opportunities through assignment sequencing or assessment design;
  • Consider offering some reward for effort or improvement in the course (heavier weighting of your assessment toward the latter half or through a portion of the grade set aside for that purpose)
  • Provide examples of initial failures or setbacks in your own intellectual journey or in those of famous or recognizable figures in your field to demonstrate that such failures can be overcome.
  • Give feedback to students in growth language; convey the message that hey are capable of improvement, and offer specific instructions on how to achieve the improvement.
  • Ask top students to write letters to future students about how they succeeded in the course; select and pass along the ones that highlight the power of effort and perseverance.
  • Include a “Tips for Success in this course” section on your syllabus, and refer to it throughout the semester.
Expanding

 

  • Commit to reading at least one new book on teaching and learning every year.
  • Subscribe to an e-mail list from Faculty Focus or Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Create a personal learning network on Twitter.
  • Attend a conference on Teaching and Learning in higher education (the Teaching Professor  or the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching)
  • Attend events on campus sponsored by Center for Teaching and Learning.

Lang, J. (2016). Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass.

If you have good strategies for enhancing online teaching and learning, feel free to share with us by email EcampusFacultySupport@oregonstate.edu.

Have a wonderful winter 18 term!

Why should I care about humanizing online learning?

First of all, the United States Department of Education requires regular and substantive interaction between students and faculty in distance learning courses (Policy from DOE & interpreting the Policy from DOE).

Secondly, it is well documented that instructor-student interactions and quality and timely instructor feedback in online learning are prominent faculty behaviors that impact student retention and student satisfaction of online learning (Riedel, Dinauer, Jobe, Lenio, And Walsh, 2016; Bawa, 2016; Shaw, Burrus, Ferguson, 2016; Boling, Hough, Krinsly, Saleem and Stevens, 2012; Liaw, 2008).

How do we humanize online learning?

Think of the task for humanizing your students’ online learning experience as building a house. And there are three major pillars to this house, namely, Presence, Empathy and Awareness.

3 Pillars Of Humanizing Online Learning: Presence, Empathy & Awareness
3 Pillars Of Humanizing Online Learning

Presence

Here are a few strategies for building/improving online instructor presence:

  • Instructor self-introduction video/message/page
  • Weekly message to students through announcements, emails, weekly overview pages, weekly video, etc.
  • Discussion forum interactions with students (greet each student in first week’s class introduction discussion, pop in whenever appropriate to confirm, compliment, encourage, redirect, etc.
  • Comments in grades center and encourage students to take action on your comments (revise writing and resubmit; study and retake quizzes, etc. )
  • Communicate to your students as a whole group, in a small group, or individually whenever appropriate.

Empathy

For improving online instructor empathy, it is as simple as 1 and 2:

  1. Admit your vulnerability: “I am new to online teaching. I welcome your honest feedback to help me improve this course so we can all have a meaningful learning experience.” “I am human. I make mistakes. help me if you spot one.”
  2. Clear reasonable communication policy for the online course: “I am human. I have a life besides my online teaching. I will respond to students questions within 48 hour business day. Do not expect me to respond to you late hours or 20 minutes before an assignment is due.”

Fuller (2012) summarizes eight themes for building empathy in online teaching:

  • Theme 1. Instructors provide a “tips for online course success” document prior to class beginning.
  • Theme 2. Empathetic interactive instructors use synchronous chat rooms, besides the asynchronous announcements and email communications and discussion forum postings.
  • Theme 3. Instructors used a conversational tone.
  • Theme 4. Interaction is promoted through careful facilitation in the discussion boards.
  • Theme 5. Empathetic presence is practiced. Instructors related that they practice the use of presence so students know the instructor is there but more so than this. This is accomplished through selective discussion board postings, but also through frequent email contacts individually and to the group, usually responding within the same day or a few hours of an email.
  • Theme 6. Design “think forward type lessons” that offer clarity for student understanding. Instructors provide a high degree of redundancy and consistency of structure so concepts and instructions are clear. Lessons and modules are laid out similarly from week to week, so students get used to a consistent easy to follow format that allows them to focus on content and not waste time figuring out what to do or where to go in the LMS. Each weekly format allows the students to think ahead as to what is expected and required for success and learning to occur.
  • Theme 7. Instructors will frequently check that learning is occurring and that students understand structure by opening up a dialogue about an area or issue as they deem needed (i.e. formative assessment).
  • Theme 8. Instructors make a personal connection at the start of class. ” In the opening introductions (as students introduce themselves to the group through a discussion board) I make a concerted effort to respond to each student’s posting making a positive personal connection with something the student posted.”

Awareness

Several strategies for building awareness in online courses:

  • „Survey students at the start of term: what can I do to help you be successful in this course? Do you have personal challenges that might hinder you from successful completion of the course?
  • „Through formative assessments
  • „At the end of each assessments (summary; Just-in-time teaching; Personalized teaching)

A Simple Step To Begin Humanizing Online Learning

Take a few minutes and watch these vivid examples of Oregon State University online instructor introductions.

Do you want to make a brief video introduction to your online students? Ecampus Course Development and Training Unit can help. Contact us today.

References:

Bawa, P. (2016). Retention in Online Courses: Exploring Issues and Solutions – A Literature Review. Sage Open. January – March 2016: 1-11.

Fuller, R. G. (2012). Building empathy in online courses: effective practical approaches. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education. 8.4. (October – December 2012): p38

Ladyshewsky, R.K. (2013). Instructor Presence in Online Courses and Student Satisfaction. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Volume 7, No. 1, Article 13.

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2017). Humanizing Online Learning.Retrieved from http://page.teachingwithoutwalls.com/cihumanize

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2011). The excellent online Instructor: strategies for professional development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Riedel, E., Dinauer, L., Jobe, R., Lenio, J., and Walsh, L. (2016). Faculty behaviors and characteristics that impact student retention in online graduate programs at two universities. Online learning Consortium Accelerate Conference presentation, November 2016.

Shaw, M, Burrus, S.,  Ferguson, K. (2016). Factors that influence student attrition in Online Courses. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volumne XIX, Number 3, Fall 2016.

Sher, A. (2009). Assessing the relationship of student-instructor and student-student interaction to student learning and satisfaction in Web-based Online Learning Environment. Journal of Interactive Online Learning. Volume 8, No. 2.

Worley, C.D. (2015). Student Perceptions of Connectedness in Online Courses. Dissertation. Walden University. P87.

 

 

Do you ever wonder where your students go once they log into an online course? John Whitmer (Blackboard analytics, blog link) and Kevin Reeve (instructor and director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at Utah State University, Canvas Analytics video link) did some hard work to seek answers to this question. Kevin presented his team’s preliminary results at Online Learning Consortium conference in Nov. 2016. Some of the findings were obvious, some not so.

My question is: what can we do with this information? How can we use this learning analytics to guide our course design practices as online instructors and online instructional designers?

Here is a summary of Kevin’s report and my ideas of course design based on learning analytics of students’ course visiting behavior patterns:

Student course visit behavior Observations from Canvas learning analytics: Course Design Ideas:
Students’ first visits to online courses may be exploratory.

activitiesannouncementdqtodoviewcalendar

Use announcements to connect with students before course start and during course session; Create navigation tutorial video to guide students; Design course homepage, Start Here module, and syllabus for easy navigation and communicate important information with clear instructions.
Some students visit “Grades” early on to view the weighting of grades and other details Have an accurate grade book available from day 1
Some students visit assignments first Put link to learning module, or related learning materials, learning outcomes, instructions etc. in each assignment.
Many visits to course do not start with homepage Design your course homepage to be attractive and put information that students care to read there; Direct student attention to course homepage if you intend to put important information on homepage, otherwise do not overly rely on homepage.
To do list is driving students entry points once course starts. Enter due dates for graded assignments so the assignments will appear on the calendar and to do list.
Syllabus is being missed by some students during the first few visits Make syllabus prominently visible and accessible.

In the same time, put important information from syllabus in multiple places such as course home page, Start Here module, and first assignment directions, in case students visit assignments directly.

If you have ideas for Canvas course design based on the above observations or your own observations of online students course visit behavior patterns, feel free to share with us

Happy Holidays!

Just came back from Open Oregon State‘s Open Education Day and can’t wait to share with you all what I have learned from the meeting: open pedagogy. The keynote speaker for Open Education Day, Rajiv Jhangiani from the University of British Columbia (@ThatPsycProf), introduced open pedagogy as an instructional strategy to promote reusable assignments and turn students from consumers of content to creators of content.

Examples: a book produced by instructor and students from Brigham Young University (2012)a wiki resources of web 2.0 tools created by students from College of Education at Purdue University (2012); a book produced by instructor and students from the Master of Science in Education: Information Technology program at Western Oregon University (2013):

project management for instructional designers book coverinsite project: web 2.0 tools for educationmassively open book

Examples of open pedagogy Jhangiani introduced:

LibrerTexts: Students-built knowledge base for Chemistrylibretexts: students built knowledge base in chemistry

When Wikipedia Is the Assignment, & WikiUniversitywikiversity

Teach and Learn Psychology for free at NOBA noba: teach and learn Pscychology for free

 

Annotate Open source text to teach literaturegutenburg project

free public domain images from rijks museumfree public domain images from rijks museum

The call is for instructors to design assignments that build problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and/or analytical writing skills in students and create assignments that live beyond the lifespan of a course and are useful to the general public, instead of creating assignments that only one instructor will view in order to give a grade.

Have fun design such creative assignments and feel free to share your life-long assignments with us.

feedback
image of man crying after receiving negative feedback

Why Peer Review?

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback (Murphy, 2015). Most students are trained to study for grades and have seldom been given enough training on how to receive feedback and how to make feedback work for them. By the time they enter workforce, they will have a hard time facing feedback from coworkers and supervisors. As instructional designers and instructors, we can help by training students in peer review skills. In doing so, we are preparing our students to be successful in their future career on the one hand; on the other hand, instructors will spend less time grading peer reviewed submissions because of the improved quality of work submitted. It’s a win-win solution. Nothing could get better than this in teaching, right?

How to Create Peer Review Assignments in Canvas?

There are two types of peer review assignments.

  1. Writing assignments with peer review process where peer review effort is not heavily graded. The focus is on improved writing.
  2. Writing assignments with peer review process where peer review efforts is heavily graded. The focus is on training students in peer reviewing.

If your students lack peer reviewing skills, instructors can provide tutorials on how to provide feedback constructively. And instructors can also set up practice assignments where peer review is graded, for at least one or two assignments so that students are given the proper training and practices they need. Here is a video tutorial on how to provide constructive feedback.

If your students have been trained in peer reviewing, I recommend the type of assignments where peer review is not heavily graded. Peer review can be extra credit points, or a small portion of the grade.

To set up peer review in Canvas for an assignment, Log into Canvas course as an instructor/designer, go to the assignment, click “Edit” button to edit the settings for the assignment.

It will greatly help students if you provide clear directions for how you expect students to conduct peer review.

BA 347 International Business
banner image of BA 347 International Business

 

For example, in BA 347 Research Writing Assignment, the instructor provided the following directions: Peer Review Feedback guidelines: As you conduct your peer review, remember to praise, criticize appropriately, and be specific with revision strategies.

  1. Identify and describe three strengths in this draft.
  2. Identify and describe three weaknesses in this draft.
  3. How does this draft meet the requirements of the assignment? If not, what is missing?
  4. What should be revised in this writing? Why?
  5. After reading, I was left wondering….”

To set up details for peer review, first we set up a due date for when the draft writing will be due and enter the date in the assignment “Due” area. Secondly, check “Required Peer Reviews” box to enable peer review, and how to assign peer review (manually or automatically), if automatically, enter a number for how many peer reviewers will be automatically assigned for each submission and enter a date for when the peer reviewers will be assigned in the “Assign Reviews” area. Lastly, enter a date in the “Available from … until” area for a “until” date as the date for when the peer review will be due. And explain to your students what these dates mean if this is the first time you assign peer review assignment in your course.

Peer Review Set up in Canvas
How to set up peer review assignment in Canvas. date 1: Individual draft due date; date 2: Peer Reviewers assigned date; date 3: Peer Review due date and assignment becomes unavailable after this time.

Image 1: Canvas Assignment Peer Review Option Set Up

Grading peer review

Once all of the peer reviews have been submitted, if instructors would like to access the actual comments, assess, or add comments of their own, they can do so by going to the speedgrader function. To grade the original submission, simply enter grade point in the Assessment “Grade _____ out of 10” area.

Grading Peer Review Assignment
an image of peer review assignment in Canvas with area for grading highlighted.

Image 2: Grading Assignment

To grade peer review effort, the instructor would need to set up a separate assignment and name it something like “Peer Review Grade”. Some instructors attach peer review rubric forms so students can attach the forms in the submission for Peer Review Grades. See a youtube video example and its web instructions.

 

References:

Murphy, M. (2015). Why New Hires Fail. Retrieved on November 17, 2015, from http://www.leadershipiq.com/blogs/leadershipiq/35354241-why-new-hires-fail-emotional-intelligence-vs-skills

Alisa Cooper’s post “Conducting Peer Review Assignments in Canvas” at http://freshmancomp.com/2013/02/19/conducting-peer-review-assignments-in-canvas/

Why Modular Course Design

The Course Development & Training team at Oregon State University Ecampus promotes modular course design in our online courses. Laura Crowder (2011) defines modular content as “a collection of learning resources developed as a single learning object”. The major benefits of modular course design include:

  • Saving time in the development and updating of course content
  • Modular components are easily repurposed across courses
  • Student learning is improved since the content is presented in smaller chunks

Modular Course Design in Online Education

Modular course design has been highly recommended by various pioneers in online education. Stephen Downes (Downes, 1998) stated in “The Future of Online Learning” that, “…Online courses will be modular. A course – especially from the designer level – will no longer be seen as a single unit, but rather, as a collection of component parts, each of which may be replaced or upgraded as the need arises.” Andrea Henne (Kelly, 2009) recommended that “modular course design benefits online instructors and students.” The Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education Final Report (2014) suggests “an action plan that includes the goals to identify any new or existing MITx course that could be produced as modules; produce the “sticky” modules associated with these subjects; define a limited set of standalone (“smooth”) modules and produce these; put in place a well-organized repository of existing and new modules and define guidelines for building and credentialing customized courses.”

Modular Course Design at OSU Ecampus

With Ecampus’s move to Canvas, modular course design is even easier to implement. Our online courses are generally formatted into 11 weeks as 11 modules. We used a modular course design template for creating each week’s learning content, which includes:

  • weekly overviews
  • learning objectives
  • pre-quiz
  • assigned readings
  • lectures
  • resources
  • appropriate activities such as graded and non-graded assignments
  • discussions
  • assessments
  • post-quiz
  • wrap-up

Our template is very similar to Henne’s template (Kelly, 2009), which consists of learning objectives, see table 1 for comparison of the two templates.

ModularDesigncomparisonTable

Table 1. Comparison of Global Public Health – H 333’s course design template and Henne’s course design template.

This weekly modular template, however, should not limit us from organizing learning content into even smaller units within a weekly module. Here is an example of two modular learning content units within one week in Global Public Health – H 333. The highlighted boxes show two modular content units within Week 1.

ModularDesignScreenShot

Image 1. Screenshot of Global Public Health – H 333 online course Week 1 Learning module

Therefore, if you have a course that has heavy content within each week, feel free to break them into smaller learning modules instead of putting them together as a long big piece.

Enjoy designing and teaching online in Canvas.

References:
Crowder, L. (2011). How to develop modular content in 4 easy steps. retrieved from http://www.learninghouse.com/blog/publishing/how-to-develop-modular-content-in-4-easy-steps on July 28, 2015.

Downes, S. (1998). The Future of Online Learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume I, Number 3, Fall 1998. State University of West Georgia, Distance Education Center.

Kelly, Rob. (2009). A Modular Course Design Benefits Online Instructor and Students. Faculty Focus. September 2009. Retrieved on July 24th, 2015 from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/a-modular-course-design-benefits-online-instructor-and-students/

Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education: Final Report, July 28, 2013, pp. 49–50.