Moodle Lesson Creation

As I was creating my online Moodle lesson for EdTEch 522, I was near the end of completing an online Math ISAT Prep course for EdTEch 512. I know that I didn’t want them to be similar, not only because you cannot use course assignments for other courses, but because I thought to myself, “Think of something new…”. So, I thought and devised a plan that would allow adult learners to learn about Math. Yet, they wouldn’t simply be completing arithmetic or answering questions, either.

In Employment in America, an adult Mathematics Webquest, young adults will research what Math skills they would need to have in order to obtain a more satisfactory and financially stable job.  As they complete the Webquest, they will learn about a variety of occupations, what Math skills are involved with each, including daily life Math skills, and eventually, they will have gained a more thorough understanding of Mathematics, and hopefully, less fear of the subject itself. In addition, the course provides freedom of choice, the ability to work at their own pace or collaborate with their peers, share their experiences with their peers and provide & receive constructive feedback.  In conclusion, for Module 5, these adult learners will complete their final project, which will consist of a presentation or video that displays their preferred occupation involving Math, what skills they need to learn to get that desirable job and more.

Andragogy or adult learning theory, pertains to adult students that wish to be responsible for their own learning, provided constructive feedback or teacher facilitation, rather than dictation, and provided with freedom of choice. I believe I have applied these elements within my course design, along with an approach of Cognitivism.  This lesson allows the adult learner to recall prior knowledge, learn more about Math, and then build upon and update their way of thinking about Math.  Social presence is provided through the peer discussion forums, whereas instructor presence is provided through the course Q&A forum, the course welcome message and the instructor block, along with email, phone & available office hours.

Overall, the most difficult part of creating this lesson involved using the Moodle platform, because I am unfamiliar with it for anything other than completing EdTech course assignments.  However, I have always “Googled” any questions that I have had and solved the issue as soon as possible. If I couldn’t find the answer, I would then ask my peers. I am my own worst critic, and although I have received high marks from my peers, along with constructive criticism concerning a few small changes, I still think of changes that I could implement or ways to improve upon my course.  I think that as an online instructor, I will be very meticulous in tracking time spent answering student questions through a “Call Log”, finding ways to improve material, links and resources and last, sorting out the best and fastest way to implement any changes that are needed or suggested by the students. I feel that this project really made me think about those people out there that really despise Math and refuse to learn it, because they feel they are not smart enough. I want those people to know they are wrong and anyone can sit down, concentrate, and learn new information. I hope that 2 particular videos that I included in my lesson persuade these students to think that it is possible, so they broaden their horizons, and ultimately foster a better way of life for their families.

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Week 6 Reflection

In week 6 of EdTech 522, there were a multitude of readings to be read, discussing best practices for online instruction, including such topics as creating and maintaining a cognitive, social & teaching presence.  Maintaining these attributes throughout an online course helps students to first, “construct knowledge together as they engage in interactions”, and second, “build interpersonal relationships that impact learning activities” (Stavredes, 2011).  In addition, as an online instructor, it is important to build a teacher presence in order to facilitate the cognitive and social construction, while learners achieve the course objectives.

I found that these three attributes come up within each EdTech course and I believe that these are the three main characteristics of my own learning that I have experienced during these courses.  For example, at the beginning of each course, the instructor has each student introduce themselves to each other through a discussion forum or even hold a short video conference.  This helps students create professional contacts and even teams, that support each other throughout the course.  During these first introductory forums, there are even questions and discussions brought up by peers that meander off the path, and provide helpful information to the rest of the class, as they share their experiences in educational technology and questions or “needs improvement” from previous courses.  This first, yet simple, discussion causes cognitive and social presence to begin and continues, as long as the instructor facilitates the discussions, requesting that each student respond to at least 2 other peer’s points.

Of all the differing goals & objectives of online courses and ways that learners, young and old, learn best and how that can be accomplished, I believe that the most important thing for an online instructor to recall, should be to establish and maintain a cognitive, social & teacher Presence.  Without these three attributes, I believe that online courses would not accomplish their goals and students would not partake in these courses.

References

Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

Week 1 Reflection

-What is involved in designing an effective online course?

     The first step in designing an effective online course is to understand the learners. Online learners come from a variety of cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, are older than traditional students and the majority of them are female.  Additionally, their secondary characteristics, including jobs, finances, education, and marital and parental status, can affect their willingness to take an online course and remain enrolled.  Prior to the course, it is important to survey online learners, in order to better understand how to design & implement the online course. In Chapter 1, Stavredes discusses various types of learners, that are either Teacher or Learner-Centered, hold a high or low degree of Uncertainty Avoidance, are Individualists or Collectivists, and are from either Masculine or Feminine societies.  In Exhibit 1.2 Impact of Cultural Differences on Learning, Stavrades provides each dimension, cultural differences, associated countries and teaching & learning characteristics of each, which can assist the online instructor in completion of this first step.

     Secondly, it is important to understand how the adult learners learn.  There are multiple theories or strategies that apply to adult learning:

  • Andragogy is a theory that differs from Pedagogy, in theorizing how adults learn, as the adult learner sets his or her own goals and decides how to achieve them.  This concept is also referred to as being Learner-Centered, because the learner is taking responsibility for his or her own education.   
  • Knowles and colleagues developed a list of key attributes of adult learners, that can assist the online instructor’s understanding of the class’s learning style, including Need to Know or why, Self-Concept or how, Experience or sharing of ideas, Readiness to Learn or problem solving, Orientation to Learning or real-life and Motivation to Learn or incentives.  
  • In Exhibit 2.1 Grow’s Staged Self-Directed Learning (SSDL) model, Grow classifies learners as either a Dependent Learner or guided, Interested Learner or basic understanding, Involved Learner or goal oriented or a Self-Directed Learner or self evaluator, and lists strategies for the online instructor to provide effective teaching strategies for each.
  • In Exhibit 2.2 Grasha-Riechmann Student Learning Style Scales, various styles and learner preferences are listed, which can also support the appropriate design and implementation of an online learning environment. These include Independent or Dependent, Competitive or Collaborative, Avoidant or Participant.  

     “These assumptions should be viewed relative to your learners’ individual levels of self-directedness, motivation and life experience in order to ensure that your instructional approach functions positively in the given learning situation” (Merriam, 2001).

     Furthermore, these adult learners most likely hold prior knowledge and relevant experiences, which can be passed onto their peers through ice-breakers, discussion forums, blogs and group projects, to name a few, which will help to improve the course and allow students to create professional networks.  In addition, online courses for adults must provide flexibility, a variety of activities and problems to be solved, time management and organizational tools, scaffolding strategies with 5-7 modules per course, frequent feedback, formative evaluations, clear directions and expectations, strict and realistic deadlines, proper student support services and students must understand why or how it relates to real-life or career advancement, to name a few.

– Discuss challenges that affect learners’ persistence in online course and relate these challenges to your own online teaching or learning experiences.

     However, once the online course is designed and implemented by the instructor, students may find themselves feeling overwhelmed, find that they do not have the proper support from the institution or perhaps feel that they are not part of the course.  Institutions desire high retention rates, while instructors should strive for high rates of persistence.  Retention relates to the amount of students which remain enrolled in the online course, while Persistence refers to the amount of students that return each semester to further their education.  Low expectations, little feedback, unclear directions and a lack of communication between peers and instructors are a few issues that can cause adult learners to dropout.  In order to raise these rates, online instructors must interact with their students, providing frequent feedback and forums for peer discussions, for example.  

     In addition, Exhibit 3.1 Comparison of Persistence Models That Address Traditional Students, displays differences among retention models developed by Spady, Tinto and Pascarella.  The models include variables relating to Academic Potential, Grade Performance, Normative Congruence or the student’s expectations vs. the institutions, along with Intellectual Development and Friendship Support.  

     Furthermore, in Exhibit 3.2 Comparison of Persistence Models That Address Non-traditional, Distance Learning Students, Bean &  Metzner and Rovai display variables relating to an online learner’s persistence or “fit” into the program, providing the institution or instructor with information that can be used in the design and continual assessment and update of online courses for adults.  These variables are similar to those used in course design and adult learner characteristics.  

     I am currently working on designing an online Math course for EdTech 522 and can honestly say that there is so much to learn about course design, implementation and assessment, that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I do not want to design a course that may prove ineffective or unattractive to learners, and would rather read and reread numerous articles and text, taking meticulous notes, in order to design an effective and well respected online course.

     Since January 2016, when I began taking the EdTech courses, the LMS was new to me. Otherwise, I have used Blackboard or completed military-related distance learning, without an available instructor or helpful advice or discussions with peers.  Additionally, it included difficult problem-based assessments which constantly caused my computer to lock up or the course to start over.  It was very frustrating!  However, I have enjoyed the EdTech program thus far and plan to continue.  While reading the attributes, characteristics and variables of online learners, I thought about how they applied to my learning and what I would do to ensure that in the future, my online learners do not feel, confused, frustrated, lost or alone in their journey to further their education.  

References

Pappas, C. (2014). 11 tips to engage and inspire adult learners. eLearning Industry.

Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Welcome to my Learning Log!

Welcome to my EDTECH Learning Log!

I am enrolled in EDTECH 501, 513 and 541, for the Spring 2016 semester at Boise State University, for a total of 9 Graduate credits. I am working towards the Master of Educational Technology degree, which I hope to receive by December 2017.  The classes are all online and use the Moodle site to instruct students, discuss ideas, post assignments, etc.

It is the first week of class and I have already created & posted quite a few things, such as a Weebly website that will focus on 3rd Grade Mathematics, an “I Am” Poem and a blog on WordPress to share my thoughts as I learn & achieve for EDTECH 541. Next, I have created a Pinterest board, learning log site and a Diigo account to access EDTECH 501 discussions and/ or materials. Last, I created an Animoto introduction for EDTECH 513 and will apply the learning log for this class, along with EDTECH 501.

Throughout the year, I will post blog comments, add more materials, references and links or embedded information so I can take what I’ve learned with me after graduation to share and update throughout my career as a teacher. I look forward to learning, meeting new colleagues and sharing ideas. Good Luck!