This week’s readings resulted in a shift of mentality for me and led me to make two major changes to the course/syllabus.
The first is to make it one of the course objectives for students “to exercise and increase autonomy in pursuing self-determined learning in the online environment” (quoted from the revised syllabus). As you have probably heard me saying, I have been struggling with formulating measurable outcomes to include in the syllabus. After reading up on assessment and learning outcomes and watching the JIT video, I do have a better understanding of how to do this – the ABCD method is especially helpful in a concrete way – and can imagine writing a long list of very specific outcomes for each lesson of the course. I have decided, however, not to do that; instead, I will have students reflect on their own learning outcomes throughout the course as a way to cultivate their ability to pursue self-determined learning. More specifically, they will write three reflections, two at the beginning of the course and one anytime before the course ends, to respond to questions that require them to articulate their learning outcomes and examine the effectiveness of their personal learning approach based on their experiences during the previous week. They will post these reflections for their peers to comment on. I will set aside time in the synchronous session to highlight the main themes and discuss them with the students. By doing this, my hope is that students would become more aware of the learning process and will be more willing and able to take charge of pursuing their own learning goals. Do you think this would work, to a certain degree?
A second change I’ve been thinking about as a result of this week’s reading is to make it a “flipped” class. I originally had the idea that synchronous sessions should be devoted mostly to lecturers and organized discussions. Now I wonder – now that students are expected to be more autonomous, if I should enable them to learn on their own before the synchronous sessions via prerecorded VoiceThread lectures, and then when we meet, I will give them questions and tasks to work on. This idea also made me wonder if I should change the format of the course to meeting once a week for 3 hours, so that we would have more time to work together. For this I would need to do more thinking. Maybe this can be addressed as part of the course design assignment.
In any case, I feel that this week’s reading got me to see the challenges posed by the online environment more as an opportunity than a crisis. It was quite inspiring to read about heutagogy, or self-determined learning, and how its approach could be particularly suitable in the e-learning context. The syllabus or course design is still work in progress for me, as I may also adopt assignments that require learner-generated content and learner-defined assessment, but I haven’t quite figured out what to do on those yet.