Male service worker at work bench making parts.

In the past two weeks, you have taken your course from concept or traditional face-to-face model and transferred it to the Outline. You still might be feeling unsure about it, or have a missing element, or are uncertain if a teachable unit works better in Week X versus Week Y. That’s fine compared to where you were when we started; that’s a pretty good reflection to be having right now!

​Week 3 Goal

This week’s goal is to build the first one to two modules for your class and send them to a trusted source for review and comment.

Now it’s time to build out your course. The idea is that each of the sections you created in Step 4 becomes its unit of instruction or module. If you are using a CMS, I recommend using the most basic way to build an item. If you’re using BlackBoard, for example, I would not use the “Module Builder”; my preference is to “Create an item” instead. 

Elements like “Module Builder” mean to help you create your course quickly — and it does a great job. But from a design point of view, a module builder forces students to work in a path and shields them from important information seen in an overview. Seeing the module’s outline allows the participant to choose their focus when working in the module.

Transfer Worksheet 4

We are creating a module of information and giving students the full view of what is coming. All the information the student needs to be successful is readily available in front of them. 

Use the most basic build available and work to get your information into a list format that participants can readily access. In this list, use sub-bullets to give quick, broad information, such as:

  • Expectation you have of the assignment
  • Positive self talk statements
  • Due date
  • Other general information

Specific information can be saved for the assignment itself and linked to the rubrics you will be using to grade. The general idea is that in a face-to-face class, you can give students information verbally, non-verbally with body language, and at the whiteboard. You don’t have those options online, so use proactive communication to benefit the participant.

Focus on getting one or two modules done. Reach out to a peer to review your module(s) and give you feedback before completing the whole course and need to make a change. A subtle change can impact a lot of different areas, which is fine, it’s just work. Have a set of questions for your reviewer to answer, like:

  • Do the instructions make sense?
  • Do you know when assignments are due?
  • What would confuse me on this page?
  • Other questions more specific to your build.

You want feedback that is focused and actionable to use now, so you don’t have hiccups with students later.

Use of syllabus

Do you need to use a syllabus? My answer is yes: all levels of students should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them to be successful in your class. A bonus to having a syllabus is that you can use the description of assignment success to create your rubrics. I think quality rubrics help instructors lower their subjective grading and can also show the instructor’s personality. 

Note to self: Write a post about making rubrics!

And repeat

Now that you’ve transferred the first couple of modules and sent them to a peer for review, take a break. Give yourself some time away from the work you just did, and when you are ready, make a list of all your courses.

On this list, go ahead and add a checkbox to the first box showing you have completed the first one to two modules. Print out more copies of the worksheets and decide which course you want to knock out next. My suggestion is to do the course with the material you know best. Because you know the materials, you will be better able to use what you learned with your first course to benefit this next one. Restart the process of discovering your main focus of the course, and build out from there.

If you’re building a new course from scratch, start the same way as before. Find the official statements of what will be taught, make your mission statement, and build from there.

Being an old or new class is not relevant. Focusing on your primary focus for the participant is what’s important. Refer to Week 1: Planning as needed.

Multiple same or similar courses

Some of you teach the same course multiple times a day. I have a friend who is an Algebra 1 and Geometry teacher — two different classes delivered to five different groups of students a week. Let’s talk about what you can do to maintain success with the same or similar information and help keep you from being “bored out of your gourd.”

The easiest thing you can do is to make a banner that is different between classes. The difference can be subtle — changing the color theme of the course and background of the banner, for example. Or it can be drastic, such as rethinking of assignments, resources, etc. The choice is yours. I would recommend the subtle, then shift the need depending on the participants in your course.

A great benefit to having multiple groups working with similar information on similar timelines is it amplifies the work pool you have. No longer are participants tied to who is next to them in class. That means that you can have participants from two separate courses be in a group project together. Maybe instead of teaching classes scheduled due to room size, you plan based on the topic. Your course now holds more students, while you’re giving more personalized attention to those in need because of the resources you have built to assist students.

Tool talk

In Week 2.5, I shared the tool VoiceThread (I LOVE the app). Another great tool is LiveBinders. If you had a Trapper Keeper as a kid, then you get the gist of LiveBinder.

Schools, industry, and non-profits use LiveBinder to help students keep information portable. An instructor can create resources and distribute the same resources to all the class. Participants can curate resources, including writing personal notes and share that link to their instructor or whoever.

EKU’s College of Nursing systemically uses the LiveBinders to build the student’s knowledge. Upon leaving, nurses have years of notes, reading resources, and updated industry standards that can be accessed anywhere.

Learn about creative ways programs are using LiveBinders on the company website.

Please feel free to contact me if you need a peer review; I am happy to give my two cents.

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