Moodle course: IT343 “Online Teaching in K-12”

Scenario

Since I have some experience teaching at the K-12 level, I was asked to develop and teach an online course called “Online Teaching in K-12,” offered by the Instructional Design & Technology department as part of my Graduate Assistantship.  The Teacher’s College wanted to have a course for Education Undergraduates to learn about the emerging phenomenon of online teaching.  I was given carte blanche for this class, except for the topic and the LMS.  I could develop it however I saw fit, then I had to teach it.

Based on my research and experience, I chose the textbook (Making the Move to K-12 Online Teaching by Kerry Rice), developed the list of weekly topics, wrote the syllabus, created the lectures, and entered everything into Moodle 1.9 (which is the version my university had.)

I wanted students to get a real-world perspective of the topic, so I recorded several interviews with teachers who are currently teaching online, in a variety of settings, grade levels, and subjects.  I used Skype or Google Hangouts to facilitate the interviews, and Camtasia to record and edit them.

Principles

I designed the course with a few goals:

  1. Maintaining a sense of logical flow from the content of one module to the next.  I started with overview to the phenomenon of online teaching and spent time getting nagging questions, concerns, and myths about online education out of the way.  I moved on to how online education at the K-12 level has its unique challenges and opportunities. From there, the course gradually narrowed its focus, from broad issues of planning, teaching approaches, course design, and accessibility, to more specific issues of individual lesson plans, facilitating discussions, complying with copyright laws, and so forth.
  2. Making it interesting and personable.  I wanted to make sure the students stayed engaged, curious, and activated. I included pictures, both funny and beautiful, throughout the course, used a personable tone in the instructions and announcements, and tried to make sure the assignments allowed space for students to pursue their own personal interests and specialties.
  3. Making it easy to navigate.  For many of my students, this was their first time taking an online course, and I didn’t want them to be overwhelmed.  In addition to the orientation video that demonstrated where things were in the course and the syllabus, I eliminated as many items from the home screen as possible, so that it would be obvious where to go and what to do.  For every instruction, I included a link directly to the activity being referenced, so students wouldn’t have to remember where they were in the navigation tree.  And for each module, I included a “To-Do” list; as long as students completed everything on the To-Do list each week, they could be assured that they were not missing anything important.
  4. Making it accessible.  I captioned all videos and provided transcripts, ensured a readable color scheme, avoided flashing gifs, and so on.  The automatic HTML editor in that version of Moodle is a bit quirky, and some of the automatic features do not comply with Accessibility standards. I had to manually edit the HTML on each page to ensure accessibility, such as replacing all the “font” designations with plain markup, and using header and paragraph tags.

Additionally, I used the Quality Matters rubric to guide me in my course design. I have not submitted it for formal review, but I feel confident that I would pass a Quality Matters inspection.

Syllabus

This was written mostly from scratch.

Orientation video

Some screen shots

Screenshot ebook

One of the e-books I created for the course, a collection of video interviews with online K-12 teachers

Screenshot Module

One of the modules. Each module had an introductory video, in which I explained the week’s topics, made “housekeeping” announcements, and answered certain questions that all students might benefit from. Each module also had a to-do list, and every item on the list linked to the corresponding assignment page, if possible, to make navigation easier for the students.

 

Screenshot Discussion Prompt

One of the discussion prompts. As much as possible, my discussion prompts encouraged higher-level thinking skills based on critical examination and incorporation of the content in that week’s readings / videos.

 

screenshot assignment

One of the assignments from class. For each assignment, I made sure that instructions were clear, students knew where to go to find resources, and that a grading rubric was provided.

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