More Work Than You Think By Crystal Rust Assistant Professor of Mathematics Miramar College
I believe that a common misconception from both instructors and students, is that online courses are just face to face courses put on the internet. This should not be the way quality online courses are thought of nor constructed. Quality online instruction should use different modes of delivery, technology and methodologies to deliver course content. Online instructors need to be aware of letting their online students know that online instruction is NOT like face to face instruction. That student roles and responsibility are different in an online course verses a face to face course. (Stats story)
There are several different tools to use to define the characteristics of a quality online course. One tool is the Blackboard Greenhouse Exemplary Course Programs Submission Form and Grading rubric found at http://www.webct.com/exemplary or in word doc form Greenhouse ECP Rubric 2008 (See Doc list).http://www.webct.com/exemplary Looking at the way they have set up the form and I will focus on the following sections: 1. Course Design 2. Assessment 3. Interaction and Collaboration 4. ADA and Section 508 Compliant
To design a course, one should first do a course map. Also providing the course map to the students, will give the students a concise visual of how the course is set up. This is my course map for College Algebra. College Algebra Course Map (See Doc list) Another great resource to help you plan your online course, is a communication and support grid we used in another course I took through UCSD. Here is the grid we used to help plan how we were going to construct assignments and what mode of delivery/support we would use: Communication and Student Support Grid(See List)
Course goals and student learning objectives should be clearly written utilizing Blooms taxonomy verbs. An excellent resource on Blooms taxonomy is found at http://cs1.mcm.edu/~awyatt/csc3315/bloom.htm http://cs1.mcm.edu/~awyatt/csc3315/bloom.htm Course goals and learning outcomes should be included in the following areas of the course: 1. Syllabus: College and Matrix Algebra Syllabus (See PPP) 2. Inside the content material in the course : Inside my online College and Matrix Algebra course lectures I include mini lectures(See Doc List) containing the learning objectives. Also in my PowerPoint lecture on Rational Functions and vertical asymptotes I include the learning objectives Rational Functions (See PPP) 3. Each assessment activity: Here are two assessments from my College and Matrix Algebra class Rational Functions Project (See Doc List) and Rational Function C- map( See Doc List)
There are many ways to design a syllabus. You can put the syllabus in PDF or Word document forms. These are the easiest and most accessible forms. College Algebra PDF College Algebra PDF However, since we have technology and Internet available in online classes, why not make the syllabus interactive and dynamic? This is the syllabus I created for my College Algebra Course in Power Point. College Algebra and Matrix Syllabus College Algebra and Matrix Syllabus Here is a link that can help with the basics of creating an effective interactive and dynamic online syllabus http://www.mdfaconline.org/modules/module_a10/m odule_a10.html http://www.mdfaconline.org/modules/module_a10/m odule_a10.html
Is it presented in manageable segments? Exam module segments and specific due dates. Online Class or PDF formatOnline ClassPDF format Is it easily navigated? Each exam or content segment should be uniform so that students become accustomed to navigating each content segment systematically. Online Class or PDF FormatOnline ClassPDF Format Content available via a variety of mechanisms? 1. Power Point Rational Functions LectureRational Functions Lecture 2. Single File Web Page (MHTML) College Algebra SyllabusCollege Algebra Syllabus 3. Web Page access My MathDoctor1999 web siteMy MathDoctor1999 web site 4. Word Doc Lesson 19: Rational FunctionsLesson 19: Rational Functions 5. PDF format Lesson 19: Rational FunctionsLesson 19: Rational Functions 6. Video Thinkwell DemoThinkwell Demo
One of the most powerful attributes of online instruction is the variety of assessments that can be designed. Technology aids in the design of assessments that will touch on a variety of learning styles. Assessments should be designed with using Blooms taxonomy as a guide. Assessments also need to be aligned with the learning objectives of the course. Rubrics need to be provided in the assessments that are used for grading. These help students to know precisely what you are looking for them to do.
Looking at the Greenhouse ECP rubric, they list a variety of assessment types. Here are some of the types I have used and will be using: 1. Self-checks 2. Concept Maps 3. Individual Projects that require web searches. 4. Exams 5. PowerPoint presentations 6. Web Quests
Self-checks within the lecture materials. These are basic calculation checks for the students. These types of self-checks fall within the lower level of Blooms taxonomy or the knowledge level. a) The mini lectures. Rational Functions Mini-lecture (See Doc List) a) PowerPoint lectures self checks. Rational Functions PP (See Rational Functions PPP)
Concept Maps are great for getting students to visualize their thinking process. A wonderful introduction to them can be found at http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/Th eoryCmaps/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.htm http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/Th eoryCmaps/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.htm In Word doc Cmap Paper (See Doc List) There are many different ways to use concept mapping. a. They can be used for individual assessment. b. They can also be used for group assessment. Concept maps can also be designed to fit the different levels of Blooms taxonomy. There is a free download available for any University/College and for all of your students to use found at: http://cmap.ihmc.us/http://cmap.ihmc.us/
1) Fill in the blank concept maps test the lower level of Blooms taxonomy of knowledge. The students simply fills in the correct responses that are given. These are a great way to start students on how concept maps work. Rational Function Concept Map level 1. (See Doc List) 2) The next type of concept map is a little more difficult. In this map, the instructor starts it, and the student chooses from the instructor given choices on how to complete the concept map. These maps test the middle part of Blooms taxonomy of analysis. Rational Functions Concept map Level 2. (See Doc List) 3) The last type is known as open ended. In these maps, the student designs their own concept map all on their own with no help from the instructor. This is the highest level of Blooms taxonomy of create/evaluate. Rational Function Concept Map Level 3 (See Doc List)
Grading rubric for the open ended concept map should be included. Here is the rubric I use: Grading Rubric for Open Ended Concept Maps (See Doc List) Another research paper on the benefits of using concept maps in online courses appeared in Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, Spring 2008 Volume 24, Number 3 by Kevin Oliver. His research did use C-map tool, the free software I told you about earlier. I have not yet launched the C-map use as a group assessment, I am working on it for the Fall 2008 semester. This software has a web-server that the students can sign onto and do collaborative maps. The server is used by scientists and Universities all over the world. It is still FREE to use.
Another type of assessment is individual projects. With these types of assessments, I try to give real world problems for the students to research. This type of assessment assesses the students at the middle level of Blooms taxonomy or the analyze level. I encourage them to do web searches to find web sites that they find helpful in analyzing the problem. I have them post useful web sites to the discussion board for their classmates to view. Here is an example I used in the College Algebra class: Rational Functions Project (See Doc List) I also include the grading rubric inside the project.
This semester I have been using multiple choice exams for the major assessments, as well as, the final exam. I now have come to the understanding that these types of assessments only require the students to demonstrate their basic calculative knowledge which tests the lowest level of Blooms taxonomy. Calculative exams have a place in assessment, but should not be the main focus for assessment. Students do need to know how to do the calculations, but exams need to test higher levels of Blooms taxonomy as well.
Next semester I will use different forms of assessment techniques instead of only multiple choice exams. I am creating exams that will cover the three levels of Blooms Taxonomy. 1. The lower level of knowledge will be assessed through the multiple choice part. 2. The middle level of analysis will be assessed through an application/web-search problem. 3. The higher level of create will be assessed through C-maps and/or Web Quests.
As for the final exam, instead of one cumulative multiple choice exam, again I will have different sections of it to measure different levels of Blooms taxonomy. However, as a final project counted as part of the final exam, I will have the students create a PowerPoint presentation of a lecture over the material they found to be the most challenging. Another final assessment would be to have the students as a final project create a WebQuest. I think that testing with different tools such as these will help to evaluate students with diverse learning styles more practically.
A great resource for information on them can be found at http://webquest.org/index.php and http://webquest.sdsu.edu/Process/WebQuestDesignPr ocess.html In Word doc WebQuest Processhttp://webquest.org/index.php http://webquest.sdsu.edu/Process/WebQuestDesignPr ocess.htmlWebQuest Process These two web sites contain the information on understanding and designing webquests: http://www.zunal.com/ and an Interactive Cmap on Web http://www.mapacourse.com/webquesthtml/ http://www.zunal.com/ http://www.mapacourse.com/webquesthtml/ I made a short PowerPoint WebQuest PPP(See PPP) Here is a basic WebQuest design Map WebQuest Map(See Doc) This is an evaluation rubric for designing a WebQuest Web Quest evaluation (See Doc List) and a grading rubric to use. Grading Rubric (See Doc List)
This semester I have had the students communicating and helping each other through discussion boards, ten of which I grade. Discussion Board Rubric (See Doc List) They have also done independent posts to find help from their classmates. As the semester has continued, they have helped each other more and more and emails to me have decreased. I always answer emails within 24 hours or sooner. This way the student is assured you are there and watching over the class. Next fall, I will incorporate the C-maps and Web Quests for more collaboration projects among the students.
To help students that require accommodations, post in your syllabus or in your greeting that if you have students who require accommodations, to contact you so you can discuss their needs on an individual basis. I am very aware of the accommodations of students because I have a daughter who has a disability. There are many technical issue within section 508, here is an excellent web resource to help you learn by examples and what software have built in accessibility features and how to use them: http://www.cew.wisc.edu/accessibility/guidelines/section50 8.htm http://www.cew.wisc.edu/accessibility/guidelines/section50 8.htm There is an accessibility wizard from Virtual508.com for Microsoft Office, but not for Microsoft Office 2007.
One really important thing to remember, online courses are never really finished. They must and should continually evolve. As I take my classes, I am always asking myself: 1. Is this usable in my online course? If so, how? 2. Does is bring to the course new innovative ways of teaching and assessing? 3. Does it help me reach students with diverse learning styles more effectively? 4. Does it help the students achieve their learning objectives, or would it just confuse the students? Also, online courses are NOT face to face courses stuck online. They utilize different technology and modalities then face to face classes, so take advantage of it. Thank – You for your invitation to speak and your time