Backward Design

As I thought over my course, I have tried to answer the three questions Fink asks from Grant Wiggins backward design. According to Fink, these three questions make up a triangle that must be integrated, reflect and support each other in order for the course to be successful.

What is it I hope that students will have learned, that will still be there and have value, several years after the course is over?

According to Fink, the answer to this question are the learning goals for my course. I would want my students to know how to use the computer to facilitate their students learning and enrich their student’s lives. I would want them to find the value technology has to offer to make our lives easier.  I want the computer to be so ubiquitous that they naturally use it to do their work and play. I would want my students to know how to use the computer to enhance learning in the classroom and to know how to continually evolve with technology

What would the students have to do to convince me that they had achieved those learning goals?

According to Fink, the answer to this question is the Feedback and Assessment for my course. At the end of my course the students would be able to run a simple website, such as WordPress, to communicate with students and parents. The student would be able to incorporate a teacher’s blog as well as students’ blogs into the website. The student will know how to set up and use a wiki. The student will understand the pedagogy behind blogs and wikis.

I would also like the students to learn how to learn by using RSS feeds and social bookmarking. However I’m not sure if this can’t be left out of my course.

What would the students need to do during the course to be able to do well on these assessment activities?

According to Fink the answer to this question are the teaching and learning activities. I will come back to this question after I have done more research and reflecting.

Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses (Josse Bass Higher and Adult Education) (Kindle Locations 900-905). Kindle Edition.

Thinking About Needs, Week Two

I read this article that blew me away and it had some points that I need to consider for my course. Whether continuing development, or simply development, a course is meant to have a learning outcome that produces change in the participant.

Slepkov, H. (2008). Teacher professional growth in an authentic learning environment. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(1), 85-111.

The article talks about how day-to-day events make it difficult for many teachers to seek professional development, yet some do. Why?

Rather than predetermining what the expected outcome of any individual professional development opportunity ought to be for every teacher, the topics of professional development opportunities must be sufficiently broad to enable the classroom teacher to construct knowledge and gather skills that are meaningful to him or her at that particular moment in their professional life (p.94).

That makes me think of my course because I think my course can be part of a curriculum, but also used as professional development. So is my outcome wrong? Since my course would more likely be an elective or taken for PD by choice, is it meaningful to the participant?

The article states that many teachers take PD classes that are predetermined by someone else, then they are expected to go back to their classrooms and implement the professional development seminar/class/program IN ISOLATION–no support, nothing.

So for the professional development to be transformed into something the teacher uses, it needs to linked specifically to the teacher and the classroom. Bingo. In my course, the teacher’s own classroom will be the focus of the new learning; his classroom will be the real life environment. Development will begin with learning reflection, collaboration, and constructivism and will involve into a website that the educator-student can use with his whole classroom.

The best part about the course I want to develop means that the need to use the technology within my course may inspire teachers to not only continue using the technology but to broaden the use of technology in their classrooms. My course is meant to be just the beginning, as a means to scaffold new and new to technology teachers to enhance learning in their classrooms.

Thought Process, Week Two

In designing a course there are two big questions. Last week I talked about big question number one which was “What is the goal of the project and how wil the project meet the goals of the organization? or What really matters and what about my course will accomplish what matters.” The goal of the course is to help educators utilize 21st Century skills and technologies in the classroom.

This post is about big question number two.

What is the learning objective and how does the learning objective change the learner?

In other words, what is the end result for the learner and what learning object do I design to accomplish that objective.

The end result is for the educator-student to build a website that will serve as a portal to their virtual classroom.

  1. Within this website the educator-student will incorporate a teacher’s section for passing along information to parents. This section will include a blog and a class calendar.
  2. The website will incorporate a student blog and the student will know the importance and advantages of using blogging for reflective learning.
  3. The website will include an “about me” page. The educator-student will create a podcast for the about me page. The educator-student will learn about uploading photos to the website by uploading their photo to the about me page.
  4. The educator-student will create and link a wiki to the website. The educator-student will learn about collective learning and uses for wikis in the classroom.
  5. The student will know how to develop the website with accessible features.
  6. The student will know how to use RSS feeds and linking to add content to the website.

I have thought about adding Social Bookmarking and Twitter. But this may go beyond the scope of the course, especially educator-students who teach K-12.

The Goal of the Course, Week One

In designing a course there are two big questions to answer. The first one is:

What is the goal of the project and how will the project meet the goals of the organization?

In other words, what really matters, and what about my course that will accomplish what matters?

The Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology recommends giving “greater emphasis to promoting IT [information technology] fluency in K-12 and in higher education” noting  “The ability to use IT  tools for learning and at work is a skill that every citizen should have.” (p.16.) In order to do that, teachers will need to use  technology in the classroom and be proficient in 21st Century Skills themselves. According to Lambert and Cuper, even though it is important to utilize technological opportunities in preparation to become teachers, this preparation “rests on how well incoming teachers are taught to leverage the technologies to help their students develop these same skills.” (p. 265). According to ISTE in NETS for Students, Preservice teachers must refine their communication skills using technology and use the appropriate pedagogy to teach students these skills as well. (National Educational Technology Standards for Students, 2007.)

Therefore, teachers need to be able to understand reflective learning, use critical analysis, explore new and tested technologies use their power as teachers for the next generation. Buy using multimedia, teachers can meet the digital natives on their turf and show their students how to use the technologies effectively in their own learning (Lambert & Cuper, 2008).

So, what is the goal of the course? The goal is to help teachers utilize and understand the pedagogies behind the technologies necessary to teach 21st Century skills in their classroom.

The organization for me would be an education or instructional department in higher education that offers courses to teachers or pre-service teachers in pursuit of a teaching certificate/degree or perhaps as professional development.

Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology. (2001). Building a workforce for the information economy. (Board on Testing and Assessment, Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, National Research Council).Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from

Lambert, J. & Cuper, P. (2008). Multimedia technologies and familiar spaces: 21st-century teaching for 21st-century learners. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(3).

International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). National educational
technology standards for students. (2nd ed.). Eugene, OR: Author.

Thought Process, Week One

I am excited about the class this semester on developing online courses.

The course I would like to develop would be for either a college class, or with increased readings, a graduate class for preservice teachers or teachers. My idea is a little different from any of the classes taught at Kent. The class I develop will be called something like “The 21st Century Classroom.” In this course the learning goal for the student to create a presence online using the main 21st century tools: website, blog, wiki, RSS, even twitter and social bookmarking. Many of those tools are taught in courses I am taking, however, none of the courses I have taken at Kent bring them together. We would read on why these tools are useful and then we will put together a website that incorporates everything together. When the student finishes my course, the goal is for them to have their own website, linked to these other tools, useful for their first/existing class. It won’t be all tools; there will be learning outcomes as well.

The first thing I am struggling with is the website. The website needs to be easy enough to produce for non technical students and students without any website training. Also, since most teachers haven’t had any training in design, the website should have some built-in design templates.  In the other classes I’ve been in, most of the teacher/students use Blogger or wikis to create their projects. Neither of these programs have well designed templates. I wanted to use Blogger because it is completely free, but it is very limited in what it can do and the templates are, well, ugly.

I think that the look of the website is important. It’s the difference in dressing in a nice suit and dressing in a mismatched shirt and tie with shorts. People tend to take the suit more seriously.

Therefore, I have chosen WordPress as the website students will use for their project. Although in my course we will all use the same theme, WordPress has thousands of beautiful themes that students can explore and use after the class is over. This takes most of the burden of design off the students so they can focus on content.

Another reason I chose WordPress is because there are some really good (from beginner to expert) tutorial videos on WordPress, as well as support forums and online tutorials that are very helpful. Therefore, more technically challenged students will have some training if they choose to use it.

WordPress is free, but it has some drawbacks. The main drawback is that the free version will place ads on the site. (Someone has to pay for all the support and the templates.) The user can have the ads removed, but it costs almost $30 a year to do so. I, myself, pay the $30 and find the price worth it but I realize students may choose to live with the ads. I don’t think WordPress overdoes it though. WordPress also offers other “upgrades” in their store that students may use in the future. On my personal blog, I pay $12 a year to use instead of