Evaluating Courses for Online Learning & 3D Printing Course Notes Part 4 & EDLD 5318 Reflection

 

This course, EDLD 5318, Instructional Design in Online Learning, has been a valuable learning experience. I have certainly enjoyed to opportunity to consider the essential elements of successfully designing an online course. Beyond simply considering course design, I especially enjoyed the freedom to plan a course that would support the launch of the current 3D printer initiative in my district. The online course I have planned will be available for all district staff regardless of level or role. This will extend the reach of our 26 new 3D beyond the walls of the elementary school libraries.

That is a lofty goal! Therefore, it is imperative that the course is designed to set the educators up for success. In Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning, Tony Bates provides a high volume of information for instructors to consider when planning an online course. I especially valued this resource because it was made available for free, along with accompanying audio and video materials. This format was an excellent example of the need to provide information to students in varying contexts. I will continue to refer to this online textbook throughout my career as I support teachers in designing their online courses. Some other valuable takeaways that I gleaned from from Bates’ text were:

  • There are structural changes in the way information has become available to learners and the education system needs to adapt.
  • These structural changes will allow teachers to effectively prepare a higher volume of students.
  • Online teaching can and should involve various pedagogies and not rely on one method, such as lecture.
  • Various types of courses require various modes of delivery.
  • Regardless of the content of the course or mode of, quality is key.

Following along with idea of quality assurance, we had the valuable opportunity to use The OLC OSCQR Course Design Review Scorecard by SUNY. The assessment was very enlightening as it gave me several opportunities to review course elements that I had not considered before. Linked below are my self-assessment and action plan. I intend to add all of the mentioned corrections before August 23, as that is the date I have promised the course will be ready for our district staff.

According to the 2015 Project Tomorrow report, Trends in Digital Learning: Empowering Innovative Classroom Models, “three-quarters of principals attribute increased student engagement in learning to the effective use of digital content in their blended learning classrooms.” I am hopeful that implementing the 3-D printing course using a blended model, may inspire teachers to try something similar in their students. 

In addition to modeling effective blended online course design, my aim was to include various methods of pedagogy, as well as embed some theories about project-based learning. This is mentioned in the Understanding by Design Template linked below in which I considered: 

  • STAGE 1 Desired Results and Established Goals
  • STAGE 2 Evidence of Learning & Assessment
  • STAGE 3 Learning Plan with Key Learning Events 

Understanding by Design Plan for Online Course

 The primary goals of the course are for teachers to feel they are proficient in creating 3D designs and guiding students in creating 3D models to support learning standards.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe that the four learning theories: BehaviorismCognitivismConstructivism, and Connectivism support blended learning and all fit into the online course.

Behaviorism has a role in the course in a couple of ways. If the learner wants to succeed in the course, they will need to engage in the activities, and invest the time to learn. The activities in the course are mixed, and some will require more effort than others. To encourage learners to proceed and not get discouraged, they will need frequent feedback. I built in a few self-checking activities so that the learners will move forward. I have personally experienced self-paced courses that are too easy to proceed through because the correct answers are shown at the end of the quick module, or the learner has unlimited attempts. This does not generally lead to deep learning. 

Cognitivism which focuses on memory and problem solving, fit into the course with some quick checks for understanding. One example is a Quizlet game on the basic vocabulary of 3D printing such as scale, slice, support, filament, extruder. Each module of the course builds upon the other, and includes quick assessments that spiral in content knowledge from previous modules. 

Constructivism, which focuses on experiences, is really the basis of the course. I intend for the learners to have hands on experiences with the 3D printer and their software tool of choice. There are points along the way where the learners will need to demonstrate that they are practicing the skills by uploading photos of their creations or screenshots of their software work. Additionally, they have opportunities to design lessons and projects in which students will need to participate. The goal is for them to transfer their new 3-D printing skills to logically support their regular classroom instruction.

Connectivism is also woven into the course because the learner must be able to determine the important and unimportant information relevant to their role. For example, on the website Thingiverse, there is a HUGE variety of 3D files that users are able to download and print. A preliminary activity might be to print an object that was pre-designed just to get the experience of loading the filament, aligning the build plate, and ensuring the object prints. Because of the time and materials needed to print they would need to make a good choice about which objects to print. Optimally, participants will choose something that applies to their teaching role or content in some way. Beyond filtering important information, connectivism also has to do with networking. One of my hopes is that participants in the course will work together to encourage each other to try different things and potentially build some collaborative projects for students. A true measure of success of the course would be for an elementary and middle campus to join together to have students create service-oriented projects to benefit the community.

In my online Schoology course for 3-D printing, I included several modes of communicating with the participants. Primarily there will be the text directions on screen. In addition, there will be some short video clips to give directions. Additionally, we will have our weekly informal zoom meetings as well as a discussion post. Finally, there will be feedback on assignments. Participants can leave their notification settings in the LMS turned on so that they receive email communication with anything that is posted or graded.

While this course is designed to last the span of five weeks, there is some element of self-pacing. As the course is completely elective for teachers, and it’s a choice for them to participate, I do not intend to lock them into completing it within five weeks. The goal of the course is to successfully integrate 3-D printing with instruction. This can take much longer than five weeks, particularly if they are following through with the project-based design in module five.

The course will be updated as needed based on suggestions or questions by the participants. Participants experiencing the course may notice if some elements are missing or if portions of modules can be more logically rearranged. I am hopeful that the teachers and other staff members that participate in the course will feel comfortable enough to provide that type of feedback.

As our school district is highly entrenched in the Schoology LMS, we are only limited by our imagination (and time) as to what types of courses we could provide as professional learning opportunities for staff members. In addition to the 3-D printing course, I am looking forward to developing some self-paced book study courses by some of my favorite EdTech authors such as Jennie Magiera, Monica Burns, and Catlin Tucker. 

In my next course, I hope to implement more of the Playposit video questions. I like the idea of having thoughtful thinking stops in checks for understanding in the videos. I may not wait until the next course, I will likely add those checks for understanding in this course before I share it with teachers.

In our district for professional learning, we include a survey opportunity for teachers. This is a requirement for our courses, and I intend to include that with this 3-D printing course as well as other online learning opportunities that we have for teachers. For every session, I always read the feedback and strive to improve based on the suggestions. One element that I will use for quality assurance is to recognize whether additional staff members are signing up for the course. People tell their friends about good experiences. If my course draws plenty of staff members to it, then that’s a good sign of the quality. If not, then there is absolute room for improvement.

I hope that this 3D printing course is as successful as other courses that I have participated in. There are so many! I have seen successful online book studies designed by my colleagues over the Distance Learning Playbooks and many other pedagogical books. I have been engaged in successful online teachable courses designed by EdTech professionals such as:

As well as online courses designed by my classmates:

Just like the craft of face-to-face classroom teaching, online course design can be successfully measured by various methods. Successful courses will vary from instructor to instructor. As long as participants feel successful and that they have learned the goals and objectives, that is what counts! 

References:

Note: Links to the LMS are only operational for members of the course. For full access to the course, please create a Schoology account and contact me for the access code.

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