As I reflect on my blended learning course and the many lessons I have learned about course design, I recognize many elements of instructional design theories in my work. First, before I began building the course, I reacquainted myself with popular learning theoreies to determine my personal thoughts on what learning is and how it takes place. Through this reflection I identified myself as cognitivist and constructivist through key opinions I hold as an instructional designer: learners are actively involved in their learning and develop their own context for learning (Dabbagh, 2002). By identifying my beliefs on how individuals learn I was able to begin a vision for the course; I wanted a course that allowed learners the flexibility to learn the way they wanted to and I wanted to provide authentic assignments to bring relevance to the material.
Next, I referred to instructional design models to begin to determine the process I would take to organize and deliver a blended course. I was struck by the similarities between the models: most models include analyzing, designing/developing, implementing, and evaluating procedures (Morrison, 2013). These procedures were most simply put in the ADDIE model, so, I decided to utilize this design model in building the course (Morrison, 2013). I found it to be easy to use, straight-forward, and most importantly, practical. One particular part I liked about it is how it accounts for evaluation throughout the entire process. As I developed the course I continually evaluated every decision I was making, from the resources I would use, to organization, and assessment.
Another crucial element in course design was developing a plan. In the case of designing Geographer’s Tools: Unit 1, I planned the course using Fink’s three column table and the Understanding by Design (UbD) format. These two planning formats are similar in they both begin by identifying learning objectives before determining how they will be tested and finally what activities will support mastery of learning objectives (Clark, 2017). I like to begin using Fink’s three column table because it is more of an overview, then as the course develops I use the UbD for its specificity in detailing lessons. Together these planning tools create a solid foundation for which to design and implement a digital learning environment.
After designing this course I am enlightened in knowing digital learning courses are relevant and important for today’s students because they prepare students for the future. Digital courses better educate their learners because of their ability to engage and personalize learning for each individual. This is evident with online courses being able to provide differentiated resources and assignments within the digital learning environment. This flexibility helps students to take ownership in their learning, aiding them in becoming lifelong learners. By participating in digital courses students are also practicing for future online courses as businesses and universities are increasingly incorporating it into their organizations. In short, it is absolutely necessary for students to begin taking online or blended courses as they are preparing learners for life after graduation.
As I begin to reflect on the course I’ve created and the experiences it has afforded me, I realize a great course is never truly finished, as visualized in the ADDIE model. This idea transcends digital learning to include face-to-face teaching as well. Continual evaluation, redevelopment, and implementation are the key to achieving optimum learning outcomes. As I move forward as an instructor I will take this idea with me. I will continue to evaluate and tweak courses I develop and tailor them to their audiences in order to provide learners with the best possible courses.
To view the course design I have created click here. The access code to the class is PZMWK-2NQ6M
In addition to my course, there are several other courses I found to be great examples of online learning, be sure to check them out!
Access Code: 3JCDD-PPWDP
I like this course design because it is highly organized. The course uses official Microsoft training materials and groups them into unit folders and has learners work in collaborative groups to become acquainted with Office 365. I also really like the use of a Q&A forum; I did not include this in my course do to it being a blended learning environment but now I am reconsidering it because it would allow students to ask questions when they are outside of the school building.
Access Code: SK4MQ-CW38N
I though the organization of this course was very similar to mine. It groups lessons together by weeks and includes resources of videos and readings, and has student assignments. Overall, the organization of this course is easy to follow and guides the learners to accomplishing the learning objectives. Through this course I also learned that you can imbed pictures in the folders’ descriptions. I will definitely add this feature to my course as it will add engagement to a high school audience.
Access Code: DQVM9-KRN75
This course is excellent because it is able to use blended learning with a much younger audience. The course is well organized with lessons beginning with videos, includes activities and Nearpods to support user learning, and a few discussions to allow students to practice interacting online. Overall, I was very impressed with how this course is able to reach first grade math students.
Clark, J. (2017, July 7). Comparing course design methods. Found at https://justineclark.net/2017/07/07/comparing-course-design-methods/.
Dabbagh, N. (2002). Basic Principles. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. Retrieved from http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/IDKB/models_theories.htm.
Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. John Wiley & Sons.
Morrison, D. (2013, May 7). Why Online Courses [Really] Need an Instructional Design Strategy. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/why-online-courses-really-need-an-instructional-design-strategy/
Morrison, D. (2013, May 28). “Start here”: Instructional design models for online courses. Found at https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/start-here-instructional-design-models-for-online-courses/.
Wiggins, Grant & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA : Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Pappas, Christopher. (2015, April 17). eLearning course evaluation: the ultimate guide for eLearning professionals. Found at https://elearningindustry.com/elearning-course-evaluation-the-ultimate-guide-for-elearning-professionals.