Our school is in training to use a learning management system, ItsLearning. The training is being “delivered” flipped right through the platform. The pros of delivering the training this way are numerous. Two standouts for me are:
- Teachers can essentially work at their own pace
- Teachers experience what their students might experience, which gives them an insight that can be enlightening, and ultimately will impact how they design course content, assignments, projects, and assessments through the platform
What elements make up a “good” course?
This was the leading question for one of our staff development “assignments” through our PD course centered on using itslearning. It has been interesting to read the reflective thoughts of our teachers as they process using the platform and how it can compliment their classroom instruction.
Seeing the shift in thinking
As a tech trainer for my school, I have been in some conversations with our teachers as they move through this PD course, interacting with content, designing instructional material, and engaging students in an online environment for the purpose of learning. I am seeing the paradigm shift in thinking for some, and they always impress me with their thoughts. This is an example of just that. The gist of the question teachers had to respond to after completing “Lesson 5” in the PD course was What elements make up a “good” course? I have permission to share one of my colleague’s responses here. Lori Moore is our English Department Chair and most definitely a leader in our school community of professional teachers..
Lori Moore: What elements make up a “good” course
I’ve been thinking about this question for a long time, and I know I don’t have all the answers. My first thought is that the course needs to be accessible to all students. We discovered when one person took my test, that her tablet would not allow her to do the drag and drop and some of the other test items I created, so that certainly would be an issue if I put a test on ItsLearning for my students.
I think the students need to be able to find the information on the course dashboard, and I’ve really tried to pay attention to the colors of my content blocks and assignments and such. When I’ve added something new, or something important, I’ve tried to choose a color that will–I hope–stand out so my students will see it.
One thing I do know, I don’t think we should use ItsLearning just for the sake of saying we used technology. We really need to have a purpose for what we are doing. Just like my Silent Graffiti activity. We decided that it probably did work best the old fashioned way–an overhead and the board. However, one of my students, after we had finished the Silent Graffiti, wondered about putting a picture of one of our graffitis on ItsLearning. We’ll probably go back and do one and add it to our course dashboard.
I think a course needs to take into account the different interests and learning styles of our students. I do see ways that we can differentiate instruction and add both remedial and enrichment activities. I think the course needs to provide opportunities for students to work in groups and provide students the opportunity to receive pretty immediate feedback from the instructor. I really like the fact that I can send audio and video messages to students. I think this will allow me to conference with students about their essays without the student having to come before or after school. Not that I mind students coming in for conferences, but it’s difficult for some students to do so. I can write my comments on their papers, but many students won’t read those, and many times students just need to hear what I have to say about the essay.
I really think that as I work more with ItsLearning I will discover what makes a good course. I know that I’ve created assignments and activities and then gone back and changed them because I begin to think a different format would work better. I think some of this will be trial and error. Also, as the ELA teachers are building, basically online curriculum guides, I think we’ll also discover some things that work and some that don’t.
I think my HCR students have liked having the Destiny resources on our dashboard and under the resources section, especially as they are working on their research papers. ItsLearning has provided them with a pretty simple way to navigate to the information they need, and I think this has been most helpful to them. I usually receive e-mails with questions about DISCUS logins and passwords, but the chart has taken those e-mails away.
English Department Chair
I asked Lori to share a picture of the Silent Graffiti with me. When I get that, I will revisit and post here in my blog.
Definitely “not final” thoughts
Lori sums up one of my own feelings well. The more the platform is used, the more insights students and teachers will gain. I, too, think it is too soon for a new user to be able to say what makes a good course. Her reference to using the platform to “say” we are using technology when we are using ItsLearning is spot on as a misconception. The teachers I know who are using it definitely do not think of it as “using technology.” Along with that, a lot of what is shared here is true for any course when determining what makes a good course. True?