Early last week I was successfully following my work schedule, which includes re-shooting about 30 videos for the online course I’ll teach in fall, revising my dissertation introduction chapter, and writing the first draft of the lit review chapter.
Then I received a phone call that changed my work schedule.
A week earlier I had applied to teach another online course. My application was successful and I now have 27 more videos to shoot.
In the last post I described why I revised the course outline because of a problem with the final assignment. This revision has put me a bit behind schedule, but if I run out of time I’ll simply not re-shoot as many videos as I’d hoped.
The revision stemmed from a problem I had with the final assignment. Last semester I noted that students struggled with meeting the expectations of the assignment. I hadn’t changed the assignment from the previous delivery, so after examining my notes I decided to provide more information about how to create a very basic WPL program.
This simple decision had a domino effect as it may impact other assignments, the content of the modules that I had not scheduled to change, and amount of work required by the learners.
In the previous post I took a closer look at the syllabus and the course layout. As I mentioned, this was my first draft and I knew there would be a few changes once I started to closely examine the course content and the videos.
The changes add much needed depth to the course but they do not address the problems I see in the final assignment. The more I think about it, the more I am certain that creating a WPL program does not belong in week 7.
The WPL course assignments are all problem-based learning, except for the first assignment, which is a short essay. To keep the spirit of the course intact, I need to engage the leaners by including different elements of a WPL program into the course. Stuffing all the information into one week just won’t work.
Last week’s blog post looked at my justification for re-designing a synchronous online university course I teach each fall. I’m in a bit of a time crunch because all the videos must be shot and edited no later than mid-April.
In this blog I’m going to describe how I went about adding in three new topics to the 12 week course.
When I began teaching in the early 2000s, it was drilled into my head that I could not deviate from the supplied syllabus. This was reinforced in many of the courses I took in my B.Ed. It was explained in simple terms: The syllabus is a legal contract between the institution, the professor, and the students. Therefore, what I put in the syllabus must be followed, however, an addendum is permissible if the syllabus clearly states which section may be adjusted during the course.
In the first post in this series, I provided some background information about the course and the learners. A course re-design must be soundly justified, so in this post I’ll provide further background information about the course and identify what needs to be updated and why.
Facilitators are expected to update one-third of the course every year. The updates should include required readings and videos. The first year I taught WPL I updated about two-thirds of the videos. It just felt wrong to me for learners to see me in class (Adobe Connect) each week, but I was not in the videos.
I had the opportunity to review the course syllabus when I interviewed for the job. The course was well designed. It had a good flow and was very easy to follow. Each weekly topic was tied directly to at least learning outcome (objective). All assignments were tied to at least two learning outcomes. The learning outcomes were reasonable, well worded, measureable, and achievable.
A few months ago I came to the conclusion it was time re-design an online course I teach. Over the past decade I have created and re-designed a number of courses that were delivered both in the classroom and as eLearning courses. In addition, I have experience as an instructional designer. How I go about re-designing courses has not been at the forefront of my mind in years. I just do it. It’s time to document the journey.
Interestingly, I’m also in the midst of searching for research articles about how professors go about creating and re-designing courses. Some of these articles may find their way in to the forthcoming blog posts, but only if they are open access articles. About the course
The course I’m re-designing is workplace learning (WPL). The course is part of an undergraduate degree program in education. The age range of the students is 20 to 60 years old. The vast majority have worked, and many of them work full-time. Some students have English as a second language, but of the 60 or so students I taught the course to, only two students had serious writing challenges.
As the end of the year draws near I update, review, and reflect on my many projects. One mini-project (I always have a number of these on the go) is keeping track of my projects. This is done, if you recall, with a time tracking spreadsheet.
The time sheet is now six months old and, yes, I am using it every time I sit down to work on a project. It serves its purpose well because I review where my time is spent both weekly and monthly.
I believe it has helped me become much more aware of my time and how to spend it more productively. For example, I aim to work seven hours per day for a 35-hour workweek. It does not matter to me if this includes weekends, or if I achieve my goal in four days. I may find that by mid-week I have not averaged enough hours per days to meet my goal if I continue to work at the same pace. This, then, spurs me on to put more hours in for that given week.
Distillery District clock Toronto, Ontario Photo by Janet Symmons
Time is something we all wish we had more of, and yet we let so much of it slip away from us.
This became very apparent to me as I made my annual cross-country summer trip. I had time to reflect on my progress towards completing my dissertation. With nine days and nights to reflect, it soon became obvious that my PhD progress was far below my expectations.
I needed a solution to get me back on track.
I needed to know what I spending my time on and quickly saw the similarities between creating a money budget and a time budget.
I felt I was spending hours sitting at my computer, but I was churning out papers quick enough, my lit review had holes in it, one proposal was incomplete, and a job application was also sitting on my desktop. Why couldn’t get all this done?
This video is based on my presentation I gave to the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education in May 2014. This study was part of a larger, mixed methods research project. Future videos will delve into the quantitative study.
Video music “Funkorama” written and performed by Kevin MacLeod
Do you know how to find graphics or sound for your eLearning modules, website, or blog? This short video will introduce you to the importance of knowing copyright laws and how to use the Creative Commons search function to find just what you need to make your eLearning modules come to life … without infringing on copyright.