Ohhhhh, this is going to be another long blog. Where do I begin?
I have to admit, my etap classmates are very intellectually stimulating for me. They stir up my thoughts and challenge my previous beliefs. 6 weeks ago I came to this course with very shallow, incorrect opinions about online education. Now my course design is completely different from what I had envisioned; it is BETTER!
Let me explain why I choose the learning activities and what influenced my design:
The most significant departure from my original design is the discussion component. Initially there was only a lame “homework comment” forum where students would post their reflections on homework problems and anticipate how these concepts would relate to the exam. In my very f2f way of thinking, quizzes/exams were 60-70% of the entire grade; group project, homework submission, and discussion made up the rest 40-30%. Weeks 2-3 was the major turning point for me. I was confronted with Alex’s question, “Online tests are open book, take-home, and potentially collaborative. How are you going to truly assess how much student s are learning?” Not only did I not have a sage answer to the question; a series of other questions ensued. I didn’t have a reliable way of developing and measuring the students’ calculational skills. I couldn’t even begin to touch the lofty goal of fostering critical thinking!
I had two choices: 1) digging in my f2f heels and refusing to adopt different methods, or 2) leaving my comfort zone and exploring methods I had little training in.
Even though I knew I was only designing the course to fulfill the learning objective as a student in etap687, I had to be honest with my own teacher role. Would I be able to teach this online course with the way it was designed?
Fast Forward to present day, gone are the 60-70% quizzes and exams from my course design. Right now there are 3 major discussions in each module and they make up 50% of the grade.
- homework problem forum where I watch who is strong and who is weak, who is helping who, and who is learning what. I monitor how they exercise their caluclational skills. After all, they can articulate the solution all they want, the calculation must be reduced to the right answer. (You can’t fudge a numerical answer in math. ) The first 3 modules are going to be equally student-student and student-faculty interactive. Starting with module 4 (chapter 3), I will fade to the background.
- study tips forum where students post observations and conclusions on the concepts learned in the module. They also create mock test questions (they don’t know yet but I plan on using a few student-made questions on the exam.) I also challenge their understanding by posing counter examples. This is where critical thinking will take place. Students have to ask themselves “Can I formulate a fail-proof way of solving?” “What will make my calculation fall apart?” And “what kind of mock test question can I create that makes sense to me and my classmates?” Beginning with module 4 (chapter 3) I will reduce the frequency of my responses to only address essential issues in the discussion.
- reflection forum where students revisit the exam questions. This is the “closure” part of learning. Learning is not complete if misunderstanding has not been confronted and corrected. I want to see how students probe and reflect their own learning progress. And I want to send encouraging feedback to them.
Besides beefing up the communication component of the course (50%), the group project will extra-reinforce the student-student collaboration (15%). Homework is still essential but carries smaller weight (15%)in the grade. Quizzes and exams are only 20% of the grade, and students have 2 attempts at them.
It is hard to pinpoint which article, which discussion, which etap assignment shaped the way I am today. As I write my blog, separate lines of thoughts on Andragogy, Vygotsky vs. Piaget, scaffolding, Alex’s multiple breeze presentations and other , Competencies for Online Teaching Success (COTS), Bill Pelz, Beth Harris, how to engage, definition and research of online learning, higher order thinking (different from Socratic-led), Angelo, online teaching as catalyst, Universail design learning (UDL), netiqutte, M Knowles, redundancy, MERLOT/JOLT, research on online assessments, and my classmates’ observations are all blended in my head. This may not be visible to other people, but when I see my course design, I can see the influences of Alex, Bill Pelz, my classmates, and pointers archived in the diigo library.
P.S. I stopped embedding links to the phrases in my blog. It’s silly to embed only one link to each key word. Diigo etap687 group houses a vast collection of varius topics, numerous articles on each topic. I cannot say which article is the most valuable; they all have left impression on me.