In the past, I haven’t really thought about effective course design.  Well, that’s not really true.  I do think about it obsessively when I think about how to structure and present information, but I haven’t really thought about it as formally as presented in the BlendKit 2016 course that I’m taking.  This week’s reading was all about questioning and evaluating the effectiveness of the blended course. Essentially, how do you know it’s working?

Peer Feedback on Effective Design

The route I’ve taken most often is peer feedback, at least in the initial stages.  There is a cohort of other blended learning course designers at my school, and we meet weekly the talk about what we’re doing, compare possible design models, show what we’re trying with our current courses, and discuss future plans. I love meeting with other teachers and administrators who are thinking about the same things I’m thinking about, because no matter how much experience I have, I know that I can be challenged with others’ thinking.  There’s always something new to learn from my peers.

Student Feedback on Effective Design

Each year, at the end, I have students evaluate the course, the content, and the assessment activities.  I’ve never, however, asked students about the effectiveness of the online design.  That’s something that I will definitely do this year, especially since we’ve adopted Canvas as our LMS.  I love Canvas (seriously, I really do)!  And I know there are a ton of ways to structure a course, so I’m curious about whether the students found what I’ve done this year easy to navigate and understand.   I did ask a little bit about this at the end of the summer session last year (because it was one of the first official Canvas-based courses I’d taught at my school – beta testing the roll out), and I’ll use the data from this survey to compare with that data.

One More Thing

One thing I really liked, and hadn’t really considered, is this portion from the reading:

Another strategy is to create benchmarks for yourself and take time each week to see how you are doing. For example, if you set a goal to answer a certain number of discussion threads in a particular forum, keep track of how many replies you submit, and make adjustments. If you want to return all students’ written assignments in a certain amount of time, note how many you were able to complete within your self-imposed deadline. This will help you create more realistic expectations for yourself for future assignments.

As a high school teacher, the assumption is that you will respond to every post.  However, not all replies are equally purposeful.  The idea of setting goals for grading or responding to discussion threads is a good way to keep myself focused and to challenge myself… and probably to be more realistic with myself about what I can and can’t do.

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