Estimating the Professional Timeline

For this week’s blog post, my classmates and I need to respond to the following prompt: Given that many standard corporate ID projects last about 3 weeks and this is week 8 of the session, how do you feel about working on a professional timeline?

The major project for CECS 5510 is building a 45-hour online course in Canvas. This could be a 40-hour (1 week long) corporate training online course, a 40-45 hour six-week K-12 online course, etc. I chose to create a 45 hour six-week online course for ninth-grade students, focusing on Fahrenheit 451 and the Reading Standards for Literature from the Common Core State Standards. So far, it has taken me one hour to build approximately one and a half hours of course content; in other words, it takes me one hour to create a day’s assignments for the course (that would take students approximately one and a half hours to complete) along with accompanying instructions for the assignments in an instructor’s guide. If this task were for a full-time job, I should be able to complete this same project in approximately two weeks (this includes all steps in the ADDIE process, not just the development aspect). As a result, the typical 3-week professional timeline is definitely doable in this scenario.

However, I believe the professional timeline varies depending on how much the instructional designer already knows about the course subject. Because I was an English major in my undergraduate studies and a K-12 writer and editor for six years, I am already a subject matter expert on my course’s subject. If I had no knowledge about the course’s subject at all, I would need at least a week to study the subject myself. This was the case for the project assignment in CECS 5210. For that course, I built an online course on lens options for an optometric practice, and I had to spend a large majority of the instructional design time studying lens options. I would say that the research step is the most integral and most demanding part of the instructional design process. It ensures the accuracy of the course’s content so that the construction of knowledge can take place, and oftentimes, a lot must be learned in a short period of time. The more complex the subject material, the longer the professional timeline.

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Wrapping Up Week 7

I have just completed week 7 of CECS 5510. This is the week where we are to have the first ¼ of our course reviewed by a peer and revised accordingly. My peer review partner provided some very helpful feedback. He provided a strategy that might hook some reluctant readers in the course introduction. He recommended that I include an introduction in each of my lessons that emphasizes how the skill being taught will help in understanding the novel. And he pointed out a place where I could have the students share their work with one another. I liked all of his suggestions and applied them in my improvements the course. Building a course in Canvas requires a great attention to detail, and I’m grateful to have that second set of eyes to help me catch some of those details.

In addition to revisions based on peer feedback, I have also made some revisions to my design based on the structure of the Canvas LMS. Because of the online structure, I realized that students will have to do quite a bit of writing even though the focus of the course is on reading literature, not writing. As a result, I went back to my syllabus and included a section on “Writing Practice and MLA Format.” I used this section to emphasize to students that even though the class is not a writing course, it will help them practice their writing and require them to write in paragraph format and MLA format. According to The Writing Lab at Purdue University, “MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities” (Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2014). As a result, I decided to enforce the style in this online course to help prepare students for literature courses in college. Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to go back through the already existing pages to ensure it followed MLA style. (My studies in this master’s program have made me used to APA style, making my MLA style knowledge a bit rusty.) The work was worth it, however, and I now believe the course has an even greater potential to help students hone their skills for college and the real world.

Overall, the constructivist design model that I’ve chosen for the course continues to work well for me. I think students will enjoy learning from each other through the collaborative activities and seeing what they can accomplish together, and I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to implement the course and witness its effects. Perhaps I’ll be able to share the course in Canvas Commons so that other teachers may benefit from what I’m creating.

References

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2014). MLA in-text citations: The basics. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/

Developing in Canvas

For CECS 5510, my colleagues and I have begun building our courses in Canvas.  The entire process has been going well for me so far. Because my development is centered on the constructivist learning theory, I’ve tried to incorporate collaborative learning as much as possible. Students will construct their own knowledge and skills through discussion boards, wikis, and blogs. According to M.U. Paily (2013), “This emerging technology which is characterized by greater functionality, interoperability and connectivity helps in knowledge creation through open communication and collaboration” (p. 39). The Web 2.0 functionalities incorporated in the Canvas learning management system facilitates student reflection, communication, and collaboration so that knowledge can be constructed.

I was particularly relieved to learn that Canvas had wiki functionality built into its interface. It took some time for me to find it, but by creating a page and selecting the option “Teachers and students can edit this page,” students have the ability to edit the contents of a page and view the page history, so that knowledge can be constructed together.  Howard Community College has some training modules to assist its faculty in building courses in Canvas, and one of its pages explains how the wiki works (Howard Community College, 2011). With sources such as this to help me in development and Canvas’s user-friendly interface, I haven’t experienced many issues.

The most challenging aspect is paying attention to the details and the big picture at the same time.  For example, right away, you have to consider the big picture of how students will be assessed, what the assignment categories should be, what percentage of the grade should go to each category, and how many points are designated to each category. Then you have to think about each individual assignment in itself, how many points each assignment should be worth, how each assignment should be graded (i.e., rubrics), etc. Then, for each assignment, not only do you have to create instructions, materials, and the space for the student on how to complete the assignment, you have to create instructions and the tools for the teacher on how to facilitate the assignment.

There are so many little things to consider, that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. As a result, I have several little spreadsheets to help me keep track of everything, and I’ve learned to appreciate all the thought and work that has gone into all the online courses I’ve taken thus far!

References

Howard Community College. (2011). Using wiki pages. Retrieved from https://howardcc.instructure.com/courses/32484/pages/using-wiki-pages

Paily, M. U. (2013). Creating Constructivist Learning Environment: Role of “Web 2.0” Technology. International Forum of Teaching & Studies, 9(1), 39-50.