Friday, April 10, 2015

For the Professors, Part 3: eLearning that Doesn't Suck: Beyond Crappy Narrated PowerPoints

By Steven S. Vrooman
This title, from Dave Bailey's SlideShare, is unfortunately all-too-often true. How often is that online class or Friday afternoon webinar (the worst word ever coined, btw) just like the Defensive Driving course you had to take when you rolled through that stop sign California-style? You know what we're talking about:

This one's from me.
How much time does it take to game the technology so that people can't fast forward or skip ahead or skip the video to try to answer from the reading itself? Enough time to instead build a class that was worthwhile? How about we do that instead. Here's a tip: if you are designing a course to prevent people from learning too quickly, you are doing it wrong.

So today I presented on a few ideas that have worked in the different online courses I've taught over the past 10 years for the Center for Teaching and Learning at Texas Lutheran University. I made them into goofy acronyms to support the group activity I made them all do, which was, in essence, this:

Tables of 4, each with the same list of 4 things below, but each with a different color, and, thus, a different task.

So if you are in the business of online course design, maybe these will help:

1. MAJiCs

Modular Asynchronous Jobs in Collaboration

Group work with need for real time (synchronous) intra-group interaction removed.

Ex: A discussion board debate. Reward for “winning,” but up to them how much to collaborate before they start posting.

2. LaRCs

Laterally Rewarded Competitions

Structured “games” which have non-graded rewards, either course-relevant (late pass) irrelevant (badges).

Ex: The best post on a board gets to choose the next day’s debate teams.

3. CATs

Content Applied through Technology

We disrupt their sense of control with surprising or de-centering moments in high impact classes. E-learning makes that harder. Use technology applications in surprising ways to do something similar.

Exs: Use free software to make a comic. Oral interp their paper on YouTube. Instagram a page of marked-up text.

4. IDIGs

Interactions Daily, Individually & Grouped

Every day give them some individual feedback and some collective comments. Have them working on multiple assignments at once, some individual, some collaborative, and have pieces of each due every day (you can just grade for completion sometimes). If you slack on this as a teacher, it can turn into IWIGs, and that's what happens when a student has to wait a week for feedback in a 4-week course.

I am happy to provide links and examples if you drop a comment below.

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