The instructor is able to arrange media and content that supports student learning, success, and progression through the course.
The instructor explains to students how they should proceed through the course;
The instructor appropriately and effectively uses tools within the LMS;
The instructor can create and modify content within the LMS.
Reflection With all of the readily available online tools that work seamlessly with a given LMS, there is the temptation to completely inundate a student to the point that the focus no longer becomes the SLO's but rather figuring out how to use the technology. I don't want to do that, but surely there needs to be a balance. In every online course I teach there is going to be at least a few newcomers to online learning, or students who are facing different challenges that I should be sensitive to. Definitely, the students should feel a lot of support at the outset of the course both in the way of understanding the instructor's expectations and having tutorials that explain general tasks. The temptation is to assume that students already understand how to do these simple tasks because I've been doing it for so long. As I have progressed in my journey as an online instructor, I've become more careful in the tools that I choose to use. One rule, for example, that I've tried to stick to is to avoid asking students to utilize multiple sources or tools outside of the LMS that require them to record a username and password. My feeling is that most of us are already bogged down enough with myriad passwords and usernames
Additionally, I've tried to arrange media and content in such a way that is supports my method of backwards design. Going back to the task of organizing the entire class, I first consider what the objectives are and then I scatter out the objectives within a 16-week scope and begin to figure out how I can support students in reaching those objectives in a way that sets them up for success. To do this, I have had to modify and create new courses many times. A made a real change, however, when I switched from recreating whole courses to just making slight modifications and fine-tuning.
Artifacts Test Student Account Student View These are the two tools that have allowed me to avert problems (save my butt) countless times. At the start of a semester, I set up a test student account so that I see what my students see. This is especially important, I've found, in the area of setting up grades. The more recent versions of Blackboard also provide a Chevron symbol that allows my to toggle between instructor view and student view. My I put up a new announcement or add new material, I want to see what the students see. Using these two tools tends to be the last step when I upload any new material.
Introduction Letter When my students first land at the Blackboard site, they enter on the Week 1 announcements page. This intro. letter has gone through many versions, as I have realized how crucial it is to provide students with this material right away. In my letter I point out a number of different resources, including support resources for ESL students, for students with disabilities, and a general student success resource link. I also try to emphasize the big picture of how the class functions, how to contact me, and I also try to encourage them and put them at ease. Click on the introduction letter button below to see my letter.
Welcome Video When my students first arrive at the class Blackboard/Canvas site, they will find both words and videos to greet them. Through the video, which I designed using QuickTime Player, my iMac with a built in camera, and YouTube tools, I try to welcome the students, explain the goals of the class and emphasize the first week tasks. In this example, I've also included closed captioning text, and I am sitting in a sound room at one of the colleges I teach at, devoted to making instructional videos.
Course Outline A key tool, or map as I like to call it, is the syllabus and course outline, which details my expectations and includes a course outline. I also include a section that lays out the various student success resources available. Providing this to students at the outset of the course, I make sure that the document exists in different mediums. Here is viewed through a scrolling tool called Scribd. In addition to providing students with an overall course outline, I provide announcements each Monday morning that details the overall goals of the week and things to keep on the radar.
Forum Rubric and Example I am given an opportunity to make formative assessments every week in the student's weekly written forums. Because we start this right away, it's key that I explain how I will grade them and share and example of an outstanding post. As a rule, in a given week I will ask the students to do the reading and to review material that I teach. They are given a week to absorb the material before responding and demonstrating their own skill. In every blackboard writing forum that I give, I give the directions, which point back to the work from the previous week, and I point out how they will be graded. The students are graded on their ability to demonstrate a given skill (whether that be reading comprehension or researching or revising or documenting or quoting, etc) and on reacting to other posts from a classmates. Among the different forums that I have students do, I occasionally ask them to reflect on work that they've previously submitted and do a self assessment. Here's a link to the rubric I use for the writing forums, a picture of the directions for one writing forum that includes a self-made rubric, and an image of what an outstanding post looks like.
Frequent Updating/Sandbox/Packages and Utilities (Export and Archive Course) If I think about the arrangement of a course, then these would be the last tools that I use. For a while I made the mistake of creating whole classes and then beginning a new semester and creating the same class from the ground up all over again. With the help of some of my colleagues at Saddleback College, I've learned the important step of archiving and importing a course into new course shells. In doing this key step, every semester I make only moderate adjustments, which saves me hours of work.
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