I have been online a lot this summer, taking two online classes and writing another. I was already signed up for Instructional Design in Online Learning through UW Stout (Educ 763) as part of Stout’s E-learning and Online Teaching Certificate program when I learned that I would be writing and then teaching Online Politics and Law. This assignment had been on and off throughout the spring as principals and assistant principals worked through staffing and scheduling. Along with creating and teaching Online Politics and Law I also learned that it would be a blended class, with a twist: twice a week I would meet with students at all five district high schools in a Cisco TelePresence room. In addition to writing the curriculum for the class I was also required to take another online teaching course, this one through Online Teaching Associates.
So, I’ve had a lot to think about while on line this summer. Fortunately, both courses have been helpful in designing Online Politics and Law. In fact, I have applied the content in Instructional Design more quickly and more thoroughly than in any class that I have taken. A collection of artifacts from this process is available as a page on my e-portfolio. In the course Susan Manning, instructor, emphasizes backwards design. While I’ve been familiar with this concept for a while and worked to incorporate it into my f2f history classes, the work of creating a new course allowed me to fully implement this idea. Online Politics and Law is the online version of a class that has been taught to twelfth graders in my district for years. I started the design process by selecting learning objectives from the district curriculum for the f2f class. From there I worked toward assessments to measure progress toward the objectives and activities to help students master the content. In this I found a form that Susan adapted from Robin Smith’s Conquering the Content very helpful, Law Outline, Modules 1-4.
Using other forms, peer and instructor feedback, and resources from colleagues who teach f2f Politics and Law I have accomplished a lot, but have also become aware of how much work it takes to design instruction well. I have half of the class outlined with detailed learning guides for the first two units. The Moodle site for the course is under constuction and has a syllabus attached. Aligning and ordering activities to support assessments and breaking up the content into digestible chunks have been the most time consuming aspects of the class, but I believe the time spent this summer will pay dividends with a smoother functioning course this fall.
I am looking forward to moving ahead with this new aspect of my practice. I will be working with a student teacher this fall, and we will both learn a lot about teaching high school students on and off line. I am also hoping to stay connected with the members of the terrific learning communities from UW Stout and OTA.