Reflections on Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning

Nowadays, digital tools such as twitter and webinars are essential for teaching online courses. In-vivo digital communication is as important as the content of the course material since it offers active interaction between the teacher and the students and keeps the course dynamics moving forward. How one presents the course material and keeps an active communication depends on the design tools that one uses to make the course interactive. From research literature and various surveys regarding online courses, it is known that students become more engaged in online learning and that both enrollment and retention is higher when students have the opportunity to interact and contribute their input while they are engaged in the course. Thus, this implies that the method and tools for designing online learning activities are crucial to achieve pedagogic goals.

When inquiring in the internet about tools for online learning, I came across this informative website Course Design Tools and Resources which provides nice information highlighting important topics that one needs to keep in mind when preparing for offering a course online. One particularly aim that struck me the most and certainly made sense was the setting of the learning objectives, that is, keeping them short and outcome-specific statements which can be further divided into course-level objectives,  module-level objectives, and assignment/assessment objectives. Other recommendations that I found important were course assessments, grading strategies, syllabus structure, design matrix, and the Bloom’s taxonomy system. The latter, in particular captured my mind with many concepts which I believe are vital for classifying goals, objectives, and assignments according to the cognitive effort required of the student. The main purpose of the Bloom’s taxonomy system is to help the teacher see the amount of effort is being asked to student thus to diversify their courses and help improve student learning. The Bloom’s taxonomy is a system that encompasses central topics, such as knowledge, comprehension, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation with the aim to develop students’ growth academically and personally. A pyramid representation of the Bloom’s taxonomy is available here.

Image result for bloom taxonomy

In this topic, we were asked to examine the field of learning design guided by a scenario and come up with a suitable design for the scenario using a model for design of online and blended learning , such as the ADDIE-model (ADDIE Model Instructional Strategies, 2011) or The Five Stage Model (Salmon, 2013). These models represent the generic components of a learning/instructional design process involving analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. We chose the latter for our activity.

Adopting the five-stage model, we decided to make an introductory course for problem –based learning (PBL) for first-year University and presented the course as a massive open online course (MOOC) similar to courses given under EdX or Coursera platforms. We embarked on this activity together adopting a collaborative approach and expressing our ideas using the FISH document.

Reflecting on this activity, I must say that even  though we did not apply the Bloom’s taxonomy system directly in our assignment, many of the system’s central topics were covered through our online discussions and addressed in our FISH document. The course website that we came up with for introducing problem –based learning (PBL) was well designed and very didactic.

 

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Author: Natalia V Rivera

Hello, I am a senior postdoc at the Department of Medicine Solna, Karolinska Institutet.

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