These were really big questions to answer this week. I am going to attempt to answer them all.
Integrated course design: One reflection from integrating course design is how everything is connected. The pieces of a course such as learning goals and assessment cannot be designed or preformed in isolation. Learning goals, feedback and assessment, and learning activities are all connected. They should all be designed with situational factors in mind and careful thought should be applied to developing the situational factors. Defining situational factors is a very important step and it could possibly be one that people overlook at times. But defining the audience and who is going to benefit from these students learning from this course are very important in course design.
Taxonomies: Taxonomies were the hardest for me to learn and reflect on. But after reading all of that week’s readings two and three times, I finally realized that it is because I don’t have a context for western thought. I get lost fairly easily in theory developed for and by western scholars. Bloom’s taxonomy really through me a learning curve but I read that reading over and over. What I learned about taxonomies is that they are very useful for writing standardized learning goals. They are useful when a teacher needs to ensure their students are developing, understanding, and learning at certain levels. The purpose of taxonomies is to define the layers of understanding that students achieve and really it’s a tool for the instructors to gauge student learning. One reflection about taxonomies is that depending on the taxonomy you chose to use, it can really sway the purpose of the course.
Active Learning: I really enjoyed reading about active learning. I find lecture heavy courses to easily sway student engagement. I like how Fink describes active learning as reflecting on the intent of the course. “When you think about the goals for your course, think about what it is that you want students to do with this subject after the course is over: design something, read articles critically, write essays about the subject.’ (Fink, 2013) If there is something you want the students to be able to do when they leave the course, they should be practicing that in the course. That is where the situational factors come in to the classroom. When designing a course the developer needs to define the community that the student will be a part of and how that community will benefit from this student taking this course. How that conceptual thinking is applied is through active learning. Whatever skills were defined in situational factors are the skills the student should be practicing.
Problem-Based Learning: Fink’s examples of problem-based learning were fun to read. I actually went and found another example within my area of study for the article review this week. But problem-based learning allows students the opportunity to learn how to solve problems within an environment that is safe. If the student makes the wrong decision in a problem-based learning experience in the classroom there are no repercussions. If a student makes the wrong decision in the real-world there may be repercussions, jobs could be lost, money could be lost. The Evergreen State College here in Washington State has a database of case studies written by scholars within the Pacific Northwest. These case studies all relate to real world issues in this area and within Native communities. These are a great resource that could be integrated into this new course I will be developing.
For me, online learning comes with strengths and challenges. The strengths really come from the instructor, course design, and other students. I cant function in online courses that don’t have due dates, or that have missing assignment links or missing reading lists. I also can function when the instructor doesn’t present the course in a succinct way. If I get multiple documents describing different parts of the course I loose certain things and there goes my due dates or reading list. But this course is presented in a way that is easy to follow. All assignments are together with readings, assignment, videos, and due dates for that week. That is strength for me. Another strength is when other students are encouraging and help to develop a safe learning environment.
One challenge is the absence of face-to-face contact. Sometimes I really don’t understand the assignment. I do my best and try to grasp these ideas but I can miss the mark. That is where I would like to walk into my instructor’s office and just visit with them. But I work my way through these issues because I have experience with working through these issues. If I were a younger student, say 5 years ago, I don’t know if I would have made it this far.
One thing I learned about myself is that I am always learning new things and stretching my range of thought. Which is great. I want to continue being a lifelong learner. When I push myself outside of my comfort zone, I can sometimes feel vulnerable. But I learned so far in this course that I can push myself past those feelings and stretch my range of thought to really understand new concepts and ideas. This course has been great so far.