I’ve lost count! Almost forgot to do this one. You ever get really excited about an article’s title and abstract, only to find out it’s completely off course from what you were hoping for?
The article I’ve chosen this week is Bored with the core: stimulating student interest in online general education, which I chose in continued search of information on motivation. See what I did with my title there? You thought I was bored with article reviews, when really the article is about being bored. I won’t bore you (okay, I’m done) with an overview of their introduction; like every article on this subject they feel the need to remind us that research has shown that motivation and student interest are important to learning. Likewise, the same motivation problems that plague face-to-face education plague education online. You would think that would just be a given by now and we would not have to bother going through paragraphs of citations just to reaffirm those facts. I know articles have to have literature reviews, but at some point if you are just retreading well-known territory, it feels as though you are wasting your readers’ time. Normally, you expect a literature review to be relatively short, but this one greatly overstays its welcome – taking up almost one third of the article.
When the article finally make its way to making arguments, it really warms up to being a lot more interesting. It takes, like I said, a third of the (short) article, but the section “Implications for online general education instruction” opens up some very useful ideas. Earlier in the article the authors detailed a certain number of factors (coherence, complexity, creativity, completeness) that they felt, from their research, marked engaging course design. Even here, they’re going over things that I feel like most people should already know about course design, provided they’ve ever taken an ed course. I’ll throw some quotes up to summarize so you can see what I mean. These are taken from the section of the article directly after their literature review where they’re starting to be more specific and offer up advice about course design:
“a course that presents instructional materials, for example, in an organized way, providing easy navigation and clear instruction, may contribute to situational interest” (Pregitzer & Clements, 2013, 167).
“unit-level topics should be related to overall course themes” (Pregitzer & Clements, 2013, 167).
” Assignments such as discussion board questions should flow from other materials in the course and link to course themes and topics” (Pregitzer & Clements, 2013, 167).
“Assignments that require students to think deeply through analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of the course materials may serve to stimulate interest” (Pregitzer & Clements, 2013, 168).
It goes on like that for a while. It was around this point that I started to feel like maybe this article wasn’t written for me. Where at first I was disappointed, around here I started to see other applications for this article beyond people like us. The article is fairly recent but covers (very well, mind you) a broad range of things that any student of education should know from their introductory courses.
That said, I do not think this article is meant for trained educators. It’s published in an education journal but I imagine that this would be an excellent overview for someone who is either new (or out ot date) on their education studies or who is new to course design in general. This might not be a bad article to have as supplementary reading early on in future versions of this class, as it distills a lot of information from a large number of reputable sources (there are some big names in their references list) in an easily digestible manner. I also think it might fit into early sections of other ONID courses. They’re talking about course design at very broad levels (be creative, be complex) and that’s the kind of writing that kick starts thinking early on in the learning process, not this far down the road (not just in this class, but for me in general). It would be easy to follow the threads this article starts as you move through course design. That said, I think this would be more interesting for someone who isn’t involved in education at all.
To anybody who is, for example, creating a professional development course in an office or writing up online training, this would be a good introduction. It might be a little jargon-heavy for them, but I think that is easy to overcome. Obviously it is focused on core education at the K-12 level, but it doesn’t read that way. It’s covering topics that are relevant to education at all levels and it rarely dives into anything that would make you feel as though you could only apply this information to high schools. If you’re looking for something to frame course design with, this is fine. It is unfortunately just not what I was looking for this late into the game – it’s not detailed, it’s not specific, and it offers nothing new to me, but I think for the right person this would be an excellent starting point.
Pregitzer, M., & Clements, S. N. (2013). Bored with the core: stimulating student interest in online general education. Educational Media International, 50(3), 162-176.