In the article by Elizabeth St. Germain, Five Common Pitfalls of Online Course Design, all of the pitfalls really resonated with me and especially Pitfall #4, that I am going to really focus on avoiding in my redesign of my course as a hybrid. Pitfall #4: “Expect your students to consume knowledge rather than create it” seems like a very easy pitfall to unknowingly adopt, with both online and hybrid designs, because of traditional learning. It really struck me, because as I was thinking about components to develop in my Canvas classroom, I am really focusing on what students can do to create an understanding of the material, so they are not passive participants.
My course that I am redesigning, Pre-Internship Seminar for Public Health Students, is currently an on campus course that meets two days a week, and covers material to prepare students for their internship. The course has become fairly large with anywhere from 50-80 students, and their option or course emphasis varies from environmental health and safety to health management and policy to health promotion and health behavior. I initially wanted to convert the course into a hybrid design to tailor the information for each particular option, but as I was thinking about this pitfall, I am consciously working on assignments that allow the students to be actively involved.
As technology becomes more integrated into learning and education, I am reminding myself that it can become more personal by really allowing the student to be accountable for their learning and include interactive engagement. One assignment that I have tried out on Blackboard already with my on campus course has consisted of students creating their own professional letter to a prospective internship site. I was elated with the quality of the letters and the positive feedback from students. They stated how beneficial it was for them, and they were going to save the letter for not only future internship inquiries but for jobs as well.
The success of this particular assignment has me very motivated to avoid this pitfall by developing additional assignments, where the students are at the forefront of creating the outcome and not simply reading, responding or answering structured questions.
Additional assignments I am focusing on implementing include a mock interview video that students create and post, to practice interviewing skills, and a professional toolkit of resources that students develop to help prepare them to be successful for the transition into the working world. Collectively, these assignments will engage the student and avoid this pitfall.