Reflections of a New Online Instructor – Episode #4
The major difference between my traditional class and the one I am teaching online – planning; everything must be planned far in advance, and this is a little daunting! However, planning does have benefits! Planning means I must have my lessons and assessments prepared, and early preparation gives me a chance to revise.
So, here goes…course content has been uploaded. My course is organized into three units, each with three modules. Next, I created a series of single concept videos, a few podcasts, located some critical documents, and included assigned readings from the textbook. Creating the videos and podcasts were challenging, but interestingly enough, it was fun as well. In keeping with ADA guidelines, videos and podcasts that have been uploaded in Blackboard are also sent to 3PlayMedia for captioning. Since I have a YouTube account that is linked with My UM Outreach account, when my videos are submitted for captioning, they are automatically updated in my Blackboard course.
Assessments! I decided to have discussions, written assignments, a group project, and three quizzes. Quizzes are easy because the textbook has quizzes that I will use. Quizzes are to check to see if my students are reading and understanding the text’s content. I also want them to apply the theory and explore how their newly found knowledge can be applicable. That is the purpose of my other assignments.
To promote collaboration, participation, exchange of ideas as well as critical thinking I created bi-weekly discussions that will be graded. Moving away from the usual post once, reply twice discussions I am going to explore an active learning strategy. I will facilitate discussions but the students will moderate the discussions. This means a student is given the role of moderator and will lead the discussion. When the discussion period is over, the moderator will provide a summary and highlights of the discussion. I will stress to the students that the discussion topic is relevant because it is associated to an upcoming writing assignment – a type of scaffolding.
To encourage collaboration among the students, I will expect them to work in groups to prepare and deliver a synchronous presentation at the end of the semester. Using the “Blackboard group tool” feature, students will be randomly selected and placed in groups where they can exchange ideas using the individual discussion board, assign tasks, email each other and share files.
I suspect that the challenge for me will be to create clear and detailed instructions so that the students can understand the course structure and be successful. Feedback to their assignments will be provided by me within 7 days of submission; our standard for timeliness.
I will use other tools such as the Performance Dashboard and the Retention Center so that I can monitor the students’ progress. This way, I can address any issues as they occur.
I am very excited to launch my course and get feedback from the students’ themselves. However, before the course goes live, I will share in my next blog some examples of Blackboard exemplary courses that have been designed based on the approach that I have discussed in my previous reflections. So, stay tuned for another episode!