This picture of my dog shows how I feel as I embark on this journey to redesign the hybrid course: Inquisitive eyes, but I’m not sure I want to wake up quite yet. Here it goes…Given my passion for learning technologies, I’ll put a twist on this with ways I celebrate emerging technologies because they allow us to avoid these pitfalls.
Online Course Design Pitfall #1: Upload your course materials, then call it a day. The beauty of emerging technologies is that they allow us to do things we couldn’t do in the past to support learning. In collaboration with of the four c’s: collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking + the fifth, culture, there are many online possibilities to enhance student engagement and learning. Finding ways of working with course content in ways that employ the four c’s and create a culture of learning is one of the favorite parts of my work. It can be frustrating at times, because it requires ME to use the four c’s. However, when it comes together, it’s exciting. Here’s an example of how I introduce myself to my learners by leveraging some of the technologies out there and trying to set an example of how they too can interact with the technologies in ways that allow them a unique voice.
Online Course Design Pitfall #2: Let the course management system drive your thinking. Technology standards and outcomes are a part of all my classes. I frequently motivate and remind learners in my courses that the skills they learn by using technologies are transferable. The same applies to me as I design spaces that allow learners to collaborate, communicate, be creative and flex their critical thinking muscles. Sometimes this comes together on the university learning management system. Other times, other sites meet specific needs best. It’s important for me to have a working knowledge of available sites and their functionality, so I can make informed design choices in creating a culture of learning. This reminder to myself of transferable skills on learning management systems is particularly timely as the university faces the decision between Blackboard and Canvas 🙂 Here are a few social media sites I refer my learners to for further exploration.
Online Course Design Pitfall #3: Insist on being the “sage on the stage.” I’d likely trip and fall off the stage if I start seeing myself in that way. There are educators that belong in the limelight with their lecturing or storytelling abilities. I find my comfort level within the realm of facilitator and aggregator. The description in this pitfall opens up the concept of the vast amount of information that is available to learners at their fingertips. As a facilitator and curator, part my role is to aid learners in the understanding of digital information literacy.
Online Course Design Pitfall #4: Expect your students to consume knowledge rather than create it. I enjoy the work of Howard Rheingold and others who speak on the topic of learners as producers of knowledge rather than consumers. This is another place in blended and online learning that has potential for learners to synthesize, create, and share, often in new ways. It can be fun to step-it-up and have them share with a real audience. Creating assignments that avoid this pitfall is probably my personal favorite part of utilizing online learning technologies. There are many engaging sites out there that learners can use to create. Here is my toolbox I draw from as I design my courses.
Online Course Design Pitfall #5: Ignore the ways students learn from each other. This is perhaps the way I’ve changed the most since I started teaching online. When I first started, I believed I needed to be actively involved in responding in all of the spaces. Over the years, I have come to see the real need to step back and provide safe spaces for learners to learn from each other without the presence of an instructor voice. As I move forward in learning about blended spaces, I want to explore ways of doing this better both f2f and online.
These pitfalls are important to keep in mind. A challenge for me is in balancing the time it takes to create quality spaces, assignments, and assessments that foster the four c’s and create an engaging culture of learning. It’s a reason I started aggregating sites I find useful and exploring their possibilities by blogging. It gives me easy access to learning technologies as my courses continually evolve.
Happy learning to all as we create, learn and share!