måndag 28 november 2016

Topic 4. Design for online and blended learning.

Constructive alignment is about making sure the assessment and teaching reach the learning outcome!
During this topic, we have looked at different models for constructing and evaluating online and blended courses. This was great fun since I did not know about any of them before, but did recognize a lot in them during my studies.

For example, the constructive alignment is about making sure that the learning outcomes as stated in the curriculum are aligned with teaching and learning activities as well as how we assess that students have learned. To me this was nothing new, teaching practical programming on the computer and having programming exams on pen and paper is not a good idea. More interesting to me is that Carolyn Hoessler chooses to start her video on the subject with the following quote by Parker J. Plamer: 
"Our assumption that students are brain-dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains". 
I think that is an awesome quote that reflects my impression on many dialogues with colleagues where we teachers complain over that the students lack interest in our subject. Maybe the lack of interest comes from our lack of belief in them?

I have spent many hours trying to make my learning resources more clear in order to avoid getting lots of questions and remarks on them. This is especially true for my assignments, where the assignments started out as short briefly described PBL-open-ended-tasks and then turned into more rigid ten pages with detailed descriptions of everything and some  of my students still asked questions and complained about the assignments. The difference is that now I can say "just read the description". The long detailed descriptions have now become a problem for some of my students.

I did not know at the time but I kind of used the model ADDIE of creating and improving these assignments. I analyzed the problem and used the feedback I got from the students to improve and try to create these "perfect assignment descriptions". In the Analysis phase of ADDIE the designer finds out the necessary steps to carry out the instructional goals but does also incorporate the learners current understanding of the subject. ADDIE also focuses on clarity and to get feedback from the learners to improve the form.

  • A| Analysis
  • D| Design
  • D| Development
  • I| Implementation
  • E|Evaluation

While I still believe in clarity I think I lost something on the way. The ten-page assignments symbolize my lack of belief in the students. Problem is that a small group of the students uses the assignment descriptions as weapons and if they are not bullet proof I get a lot of nonproductive discussions about the details. But taking this course and listening to Gilly Salmons I now believe this might be due to the lack of scaffolding. Perhaps I do not support my students enough through the "easy stuff" like the use of tools, communicating, building groups, providing a welcoming environment to ask questions and how to search for information by themselves. When the students lack these foundational skills they are simply not ready for open-ended tasks. 

However, the long descriptions did do some good: I do now understand how much work it is to do the assignments and how many steps it takes. That is in ADDIE terms I gained the result from the "instructional analysis" and also the "learner analysis" . I believe I should now go back and re-iterate on the assignment since the instructional analysis shows that perhaps the assignments are too big and the learner analysis that the students lacked essential skills. These skills can perhaps be easier acquired in prerequisite courses or I should construct other assignments that must be completed  before the "hard one". 

ADDIE, Five stage model and Constructive alignment all help us to design courses and assignments. Using these I hope to regain the open-ended PBL assignment I once had.

3 kommentarer:

  1. Very interesting post. I really like how much you emphasize on assignments. You are very in-line with what students value the most and how you can derive learning through the things which provide motivation to students. For me, more than models, these are large steps (with each having sub-steps).

    1. Constructive alignment ---> 2. ADDIE (again constructive re-alignment during design after analysis) ---> 3. 5 Stage Model

  2. I totally agree that sometimes we overlook the 'basic' foundational understandings, in our rush to address the more complex content - and then wonder why students struggle. We cannot assume that everyone is skilled at learning collaboratively or in an open or networked way, and I think that this course is valuable in making explicit these underpinning skills that good pedagogy requires of students. Great post!

  3. This is a great post that summarizes Topic 4 really well! As a "busy teacher and researcher", I usually want students to understand as much as possible right away, but I also think that there can be something valuable in students asking questions. I think you explain that really well, and I agree that if we can get the students started on collaborative working, they will be better equipped to solve the difficult tasks.