One of the aspects of creating an online course with which I struggled the most was determining the right platform to use for me and my students. As more teachers move to blended, flipped, or tech-heavy teaching and learning styles, students are getting confused about which system to use in each class and where their materials can be found. For example, as a Google school, many teachers use Google Classroom to manage assignments and post information, while others post everything on Moodle. Still others have created Google Drive folders for their students to work from and collaborate. With all of the options, it is natural that students get confused and lost in the shuffle. With that in mind, I wanted to create something that could be linked from multiple places. While Google Classroom and Moodle did not quite offer me what I wanted, Haiku Learning was a visually appealing, user-friendly platform with a variety of benefits for my students. While I struggled with adding one more thing for them to learn, I also realized that I am helping to prepare them for life in a digital world by exposing them to as many platforms as possible. Ultimately, although it adds to the multitude of course management systems students are using on a daily basis, Haiku Learning was chosen.
Once I started designing my classroom, I had to get the notion out of my head that if students didn’t understand something I could always explain it in class. Just as I would never allow them to turn in a vague essay with the thought that they could explain their points in person, I too should be clear and direct with my expectations on the site. This resulted in adding significantly more content and trying to provide as many opportunities to ask questions of me or one another as possible. I also quickly learned that the content I hand out in class and can expand upon verbally does not necessarily translate well to an online course module. Adding screencasts of my project overview aided in this as it will allow all learning styles to get a sense of the project. I am also currently working on an infographic that will outline the project visually and break it down into steps. I created one for another project that I am including here as an example. (next page)
Finally, I wanted the course to be easy to follow and for ideas to flow logically into the next. For this I used a backward design process and tried to begin with the end in mind. Knowing what my expected outcome was, I considered what they would need to read, listen to, practice, research, and create in order to reach that goal. From there, I created formative assessments (annotated bibliography, peer workshop) to support their learning and gain feedback ahead of the summative assessment due date. Finally, by asking students to create the rubric for the task, I engaged them in all areas of the process and ensured that the expectations were not only clear, but agreed upon by all stakeholders. This has become a cornerstone in my teaching and is something I hope to implement more often.
Ultimately, the creation of the CMS was a learning experiences that was invaluable as I move to include increasing digital experiences, lessons, and tasks for my students. Using this design method in the future will help me ensure that all aspects of my course are clear, achievable, and engaging for my students.