Friday, August 23, 2013

Teaching Online (Part III) - Course Design

     The meat and potatoes of any course (traditional, hybrid, or online) is the content, and as the instructor, you are the chef. For some students you may alter the recipe (less pepper, hold the gravy, well done) but in the end, the way you present your content is how it will be digested. Depending on your reflection from the previous post, you should already have some ideas on how you plan to present your content. In fact, you may simply click upload or be able to tweak/adjust what you already have as far as presentation material.
Let me stop for a moment here and have a brief sidebar. Many instructional designers will read the previous sentence and scoff at the idea of uploading what you do face to face and using the same format online. I acknowledge what they are saying and feel they have merit, I even somewhat agree, but here are my thoughts in that regard. As a first year teacher/professor you went with the resources, ideas, and techniques you had and have hopefully developed more with each passing year. In the same way with online teaching, I feel it is okay to start with what you have and adapt, increasing your ability as you go. We can agree to disagree, but my second thought is (despite how it is delivered) if the material is not good enough for online, why are we using it face to face. Yes, pedagogy is different as well as interaction, and different tools can be utilized (the point which continues below), but content is content. Some may think I am being to simplistic in this post, but the focus here is getting instructors started. As with anything in life, you dive deeper with experience and understanding. Okay, thanks for the brief detour now lets get back to the conversation.
      In other ways, teaching online might encourage you to try some new web 2.0 tools that enhance the presenting of content not only online, but in your face to face classes as well.  If you are willing to put in the work, teaching online can be seen as a fresh start, an opportunity, to see if there is another level to be reached. Teaching online really requires you to focus on how you want students to understand and comprehend the content. In return that can benefit all formats in which you are currently teaching.

     As you decide how you are going to present your course content, then the design of your course begins to take shape. I hold to the philosophy of allowing content to shape the course, and not the course structure dictating the content. In later posts we will discuss the ADDIE model of instructional design which supports this line of thought, but you can see the basic idea in the graphic below. In the diagram note the constant evaluation & revision. Teaching, whether traditional or online should always be a never ending process.  Hopefully if teaching is your chosen profession that excites you.  If not, see my earlier post titled "Once you stop learning, you start dying"


     In any case, here are some common ways to present your content online. Of course you are not limited to these as there our thousands of web 2.0 tools and programs you could potentially use. Likewise, do not forget that that students can return work to you through these same formats. In fact, if you are open to receiving work via different tools/formats you might even find some great new tools from creative or techy students.
     Again, these are but a few of the tools/ways content can be delivered, but enough to get someone started. If you have some that you enjoy using or are effective, please comment below and include links if they are web/cloud based.  Next blog we will discuss course navigation.