EDDL 5111 Developer’s blog post #1

For my blog post this week, I’m going to reflect on the questions Bates raises and think about the design of this course, EDDL 5111. As you know, EDDL 5111 is a graduate-level course in education. Students in the course typically have a university degree, although not necessarily in education. The course is offered entirely online.

Thinking about student needs and characteristics is challenging because the group can be quite varied. Some are experienced educators; some are new to education or are considering a career in the field. Some are very experienced users of online educational technology; some have little background in online tools. Students might teach anywhere from elementary school to university, living in large cities or isolated communities. Students could be anywhere in the world. Historically, most have been in Canada, Europe, or Asia. This variety led me to several design decisions:

  • The course offers opportunities for students to share experiences, in blogs and in class discussions. This lets people share their expertise.
  • Because it is a graduate-level course, most of the effort involved in the course is in reflecting on and applying readings, like the questions Bates raises, rather than taking in information. Developing the ability to think critically about educational design is critical.
  • The course material matches the delivery approach. The focus is choosing educational technology, specifically web-based tools, to enhance learning. The course is taught in the web environment, and students are encouraged to explore and share technology with each other. In addition, situating the course entirely online requires everyone to use web-based communication tools. Assignments encourage everyone to try new tools.
  • The resources available to develop the course were sufficient. Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has instructional designers who work with instructors to design courses.
  • The course is designed based on the idea that students are honing their ability to do course design and in particular to select technology that makes good educational sense. As an instructor designing the course, I see myself as an experienced practitioner and mentor coaching students. This is my preferred approach to instruction in almost all situations, and the design reflects this preference.
  • Sometimes having a course entirely online makes it challenging to use the kind of discussion-based approach that is my preference. The spontaneity of a face-to-face gathering makes it possible to get people to reflect on things in pairs, come together in smaller and larger groups, and also to change tactics if it seems that things are not clear. In an online course, it can be really confusing to change tactics mid-activity. Since the course is designed for asynchronous rather than synchronous discussion, it is a little less flexible than it might be face-to-face.
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