Reflection on Developments So Far

Wow. We’ve gone through a lot when you look back on it and try to sum it up shortly. Learning never feels that way, you know? Like you never feel like you’ve learned much until you have to either put it in practice or you have to metacognate a bit.

I think, of everything we’ve learned so far,  I think of this course more as me getting to connect some dots that might not have ever been connected otherwise. As I write this post I’m looking back through my previous weekly writings, as well as some of our readings, and I’m starting to feel like the biggest takeaway is that course design has to be holistic.

Duh, of course, you say. I don’t mean that  the course has to be holistically designed  to cover lots of bases, I mean that  the act of course design is a singular act  with lots of threads. I think, in hindsight, this might be why I had such strong negative feelings about Khan Academy. I won’t retread all my caveats about it being both good and bad here. Khan Academy is designed one module at a time, and as a result the modules don’t always feel interconnected. Likewise, for this reason, many of them are stuck in the lower levels (lower petals?) of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom’s Rose?). It’s very “watch-repeat,” which is a knowledge level experience. I imagine that has a lot to do with the fact it’s a choose-your-own-adventure learning program, so it’s difficult to build conceptually and plan far in advance when you don’t necessarily know how far a student will go in your course. We have that luxury, which is why I think all of our course designs are looking pretty good. Like they build on each other, because we’re coming at design from a bunch of different ways with different feedback, instead of necessarily doing things one step at a time. I’m not sure that’s making a lot of sense now that I look back at it…I guess, the point is, that in this prompt:

“What have you learned about integrated course design, taxonomies of learning, active learning, or problem-based learning?”

I don’t really think of those as separate enterprises the way I would have before I got to look into everybody’s learning process like we are doing here. It’s a major advantage of an online class – we get to watch, in writing, people move through their thought processes in a way we might not in a traditional class. As such, I’m starting to feel as though developing an entire course isn’t necessarily about planning step-by-step, but planning whole. Like we did with our maps, which I would never ever  have done on my own, but which was actually pretty useful.

As for weaknesses of the format, well, I’ve gotta say, I don’t feel like online classes have yet come to a great conclusion on how to share resources. In a face to face class you can just bring the resource in. I guess we could email each other but I don’t have people’s emails thanks to WordPress. I don’t know about you all but I’ve not really been using twitter (which I hate on principle) or Diigo (which I find awkward and clunky and always have). There’s something still a little foreign about navigating artificial spaces, I guess. It’ll be interesting to see how in the future this is handled.

As for myself, well, I’ve certainly learned that I kind of prefer being left to my own devices, learning-wise. I greatly prefer the article reviews because I enjoy being able to explore topics of interest to me. I guess you get to do that in other classes but here it’s left really open. I’ve also learned that I don’t do well with open deadlines. This whole “do it sometime this week” thing doesn’t fit well with my…study habits. I often find myself putting everything off until Saturday. It’s quite a bit to do all the readings, find an article (you know how finding the right article can take forever), and do the writings in a day. It just happens. I think that has more to do with my learned university habits (doing things in large chunks when there’s large free time instead of spaced out in small chunks) than this course, though. It’d be interesting to see if, in the future, I could find a way to gamify online course development with “achievements” (if you don’t play games, Google “gaming achievements” and read that Wikipedia page, it’s interesting if you like gamification) that would incentivize students like me to be doing things for a course a couple of times a week instead of once per week.

I’m excited to see how things develop as we move forward in the course. For the first time in a while I’m making tangible / visible progress on my Native lit course project. I’ve always known what kind of learner I am – auditory –  not the best for an online class. That’s okay, though, because we have an opportunity in this class to take our work in pretty much any direction (within reason) that we want, and I like that. Unlike Craig, I’m a digital native. I’ve grown up in this world. I don’t always like it (social media), and sometimes I hate it (Diigo), but I function well here. I think our upcoming students will be more and more like me (and beyond) so I’m enjoying seeing the strengths and flaws in online education because, at some point in our careers, we’ll probably be expected to work within them, and overcome them.

4 thoughts on “Reflection on Developments So Far

  1. Well, I must say I agree with you on many fronts here. First, I see the professional benefit of Twitter and am actively trying (thanks to Ed 431) to Tweet twice weekly. So far, the habit has not become ingrained enough to appreciate it for its own sake. Oh…where is my intrinsic motivation when I need it!

    I also hate Diigo, even though I wish I loved it. It would be such a useful tool if I could stand to use it. The interface is just so clunky it makes me wish I had time to create my own Diigo with the features that I actually want. I’ve put it on my list of things to do, but it keeps getting bumped down by the act of article searches and family emergencies. lol, I don’t know if I will ever get there until I don’t need it any more.

    Gamification, I’m going to go read the reference you recommended. I think I better put learning to play some games on my list as well. Any that you recommend for someone who doesn’t have to much time, does have a macbook pro and isn’t really into excessive gratuitous violence? I’ve tried a few and found them pretty intimidating and therefore not enjoyable enough. I find second life boring. Any suggestions appreciated, I am going to consider this research:)

    1. There are so many games out there Kim. If you haven’t tried World of Warcraft – you probably should. It’s most probably the most influential game of the early part of this century. It’s questing/badging/achievement system is remarkable. I think you can play for free for a while. Hugely important game, in my opinion.

  2. Hi Nicholas,

    That is quite a reflection. It is interesting to me that you have said several times that you prefer to do things on your own, but you’re so naturally expressive in your writing, and naturally prolific – you’re a natural for the online environment.

    I really like your conclusions with regard to Khan Academy. I think it is inevitably very “low end” – which might be of revolutionary value if suddenly some large percentage of the earth’s population is all gaining in basic knowledge. But it’s not a critical thinking and insight generating machine by any means.

    Twitter and Diigo – these aren’t intended for you to adopt entirely. It’s more about exposure. I have found Twitter particularly valuable on certain occasions. At conferences it can be helpful for carrying on a back channel conversation, and during place or time based events of all kinds, can be very useful. Diigo. Some people love it. I’m mostly with you. I don’t use it – but what does one use for archiving and sharing references?

    I’ll be interested to watch your course develop along with your thoughts on the eCampus landscape.


  3. “I’ve also learned that I don’t do well with open deadlines.” I can really appreciate that quote this week, as I skipped out of town last Friday blissfully thinking I had everything turned in. Coming home today I realized I completely spaced out the last article review. Dohhh

    “Like they build on each other, because we’re coming at design from a bunch of different ways with different feedback, instead of necessarily doing things one step at a time.” This is a great summary for why this particular course design process is working for me. I kept trying to build a unit at the lesson level and kept getting overwhelmed with the volume of information I wanted to introduce and the conclusions I wanted kids to come to. When I finally stepped back and looked at the big picture (concept map), it became clear the topic was simply too big. Then, the different feedback I received led me to consider a variety of pre and post activities. This process has helped me connect the dots as well, maybe in a slightly different way. I always enjoy your candid, conversational style writing!

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