Essential Question: In what way is the process my group is using facilitating the design of our course?
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The English group, in some ways, has struggled a little bit up until this week with trying to figure out how the hell to design this course. The standards are put into place (we just discovered we didn’t have to cover the writing portion, whew!) but we were struggling with what the content should be, what materials would allow these students to learn the required criteria, and was any of it free? Should we have them read Hemmingway or Shakespeare? Poetry? What about poetry? We were spending our precious time debating and not really understanding how to be a cohesive team.
We finally, last night had a meeting where we were able to gain some insight into the direction we need to be going in as a development team. We had gotten ahead of ourselves. First things first! Chapter 5 in Distance Education this week was an eye opener for me and especially after our last meeting, I have a much greater understanding of what we are to accomplish and how to go about it.
Within our group, everyone is an English major (except me)! They are dedicated and passionate, not only about teaching, but about literature. An important statement I read was, no individual is a teacher in this system, but that it is a system that teaches (Moore & Kearsley, 2012). I think one of our obstacles we had to overcome was understanding that we will gain more by sharing our information, being open to different ideas, coming to a consensus as a group and ultimately, remembering that our student population is a diverse group of learners.
One area that stumped us for a bit was that the modules may be taken independently of one another. We originally had gone in thinking that the credit recovery would take place after completing the modules from beginning to end. Not so..if all the student needs is to show that they meet writing standards in research to build and present knowledge, why should they have to slog through the rest of the modules? Moore and Kearsley talk about how it’s actually a good thing to break up the modules of a distance course, 1. it makes it easier for the student to fit study into the normal, active adult life style (boy, can I appreciate that), 2. short segments help students to concentrate, making information easier to assimilate, and to integrate, and 3. it’s easier to identify student problems when the material is divided in this way, since they can be localized to a specific objective or learning activity (p. 107). All of our group members had expressed concern about being able to build cohesiveness between the units but what we have learned is that many of the standards will present themselves throughout all of the modules and inevitably, there will be a braiding of those learning outcomes, even if only two modules are studied. As course designers, we can assure that takes place.
Our team has brought up some important considerations such as student time management – not making a module so intensive and trying to shove too much on their plate. How do we keep them engaged? How do we make learning fun? How, or should we incorporate gaming? Do we need to consider their culture? Is the reading material we choose going to prove to be too mature? Right now we are writing rubrics. Next we will discuss activities and then materials…the process has taken a bit more time than we originally expected, we have had to redefine some rolls and learn to work together in a more productive way, but now it’s coming together and it feels a lot better!!!
Moore, M., and Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. [E-Book edition]