Online instructors face the challenges of keeping a course up to date, engaging students, and maintaining integrity. Having students generate some of the course content can address all three of these challenges.
Not all online courses are created from scratch. Many—if not most—are online versions of courses that have previously been taught face-to-face. In these cases, where an instructor or instructional designer is adapting an existing face-to-face course for online delivery, assessments already exist.
Multiple-choice questions are not the pariah of all test questions. They can make students think and measure their mastery of material. But they can also do little more than measure mastery of memorization. Memorizing is usually an easier option than thinking and truly understanding.
I remember well the days when digitizing documents and photographs was a huge challenge. Scanners in the 1990s were not readily available, expensive, took up about the better part of one’s desk, cumbersome to use, and the output quality varied from scanner to scanner. My first desktop scanner, a high-end SCSI scanner, cost around $2000 in 1994!
A survey conducted by the Center for Digital Education and Sonic Foundry found that 29 percent of faculty are currently using the flipped classroom model of instruction, with another 27 percent saying they plan to use it within the next 12 months.
Donald Eastman III, the president of Eckert College, wrote about the limits of online learning: “…what works for most students…is a small classroom…where a respected authority…is a spellbinding revealer of mysteries – not simply because he or she knows things we don’t, but because a gifted teacher reads the audience the way an actor reads the room…”
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted by 45 states in an effort to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what school age students are expected to learn. Although not with their critics, the standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, and to reflect the knowledge and skills that all students need for success in college and careers. For the last couple of years, local school districts have been diligently working to integrate these standards into all classrooms. The standards use powerful, higher level thinking verbs such as analyze, evaluate, assess, and interpret. Very little emphasis is placed on verbs such as list, describe, and identify. While contemplating these monumental changes at the K-12 level, we have been wondering about the implications of the adoption of the CCSS for higher education. This article will focus on what we believe are a few suggestions for ensuring that when K-12 students are “college and career” ready, we continue to uphold and promote the same kinds of higher level thinking and learning.
Curriculum changes or differences of opinion about what should be taught and how it should be taught can create tension in any department. And the budget situation in many departments can add fuel to the fire. Jon Bloch, chair of sociology at Southern Connecticut State University, offers the following points to keep in mind to help manage these conflicts:
When looking to improve your online course, you may be tempted to do a complete redesign—start over and change nearly everything. Before you do that, consider an incremental approach that uses action research to continuously improve your course. This will enable you to make progress without discarding effective course elements or taking on the inordinate amount of work involved in a redesign.
We’ve all heard the expressions “Death by PowerPoint” and “PowerPoint-induced coma.” I think we’d all agree that most of PowerPoints stink. Yet after sitting through presentation after presentation that bore us to tears, we turn around and subject our students and colleagues to the same torture that we find so excruciating. Why?