Archive for Instructional Design

eLearning Approach to Increase Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation Rates

My colleague, Sheri Rawls, and myself gave this presentation at the 2010 Creating Futures Through Technology Conference in March.  We spoke about the e-learning initiative The University of Southern Mississippi has undertaken to increase student and faculty satisfaction in our online programs as well as improve enrollment, retention, and graduation rates.  This is an ongoing project that will continue to improve our online programs.  The project included 5 main workstreams: Faculty Development, Course Development, Change Management, Scheduling, and Financial Model.  Through a partnership with Blackboard, we have been able to grow our online programs and ensure a satisfying experience for our online students.

To view our presentation, please click on the link below:

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Evaluating Courses for Effective Instruction

I just finished a certification course titled “Evaluating Courses for Effective Instruction”.  It was administered by Blackboard.  We were given rubrics to use to practice evaluating online courses for effective instruction and effective instructional design.  We were also given the opportunity to view courses that have been named exemplary courses through their Greenhouse Exemplary Course program.  I have been working with faculty for a few years and have seen some good and bad in the way of online course design.  By viewing some of the exemplary courses I was able to gain some new ideas on ways to make online courses even better and I found it very helpful to have access to the rubrics used to judge the exemplary course project.

At our institution we already provide an online course rubric for our faculty to help them evaluate their courses to ensure they include all of the necessary components for a quality course.  We also provide other resources for our instructors to use to help make sure their courses are quality courses including syllabus design and writing effective learning objectives.

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Alternative Assessment Techniques

I came across this great podcast that talks about ways schools are finding fun and alternative ways to assess their students.  It doesn’t have to be standardized tests.  One geometry teacher has her students create the school of 2050 using the geometry and math skills they have learned to create the layout and models of the buildings.  This activity allows them to use their creativity and see how the skills they learn in the classroom can be used in the real world. She has 2 architects who volunteer their time to help with the projects and judge the projects at the end.

Another school starts their students off by teaching them in 2 different languages. They take their language arts classes and social studies in English and take their Math and Science classes in another language (Spanish or Japanese). This means the students will be fluent in 2 languages.

I was blown away by the creativity and methods these schools are using to get to their students.  It was so awesome to see!! I hope schools will go more towards methods like these than just teaching to the test.

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What type of learner are you?

I have always considered myself a visual learner. I still think I do have a need for the visual, but after reading the article “The Art of Learning Better: 101 Tips to Find and Fit Your Learning Style” by Heather Johnson, I found myself falling even more so in the area of the kinesthetic learner. This type of learner learns best when they have the opportunity to get involved with the material, do hands-on work and develop a process for learning new information or a skill. I still need the visual, especially in classes where I don’t have the option to have a hands-on experience. I do learn much better if I can see a visual representation of what I need to learn. Videos and diagrams are my best friend.

I do try to practice becoming better at the other type of learning styles because after all we don’t always get to choose the way information is conveyed to us. The above article gives you some tips on how to do this.

So, what type of learner are you?  Or, more importantly, in teaching do you try to accommodate the different types of learning styles of your students?

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Instructional Design

I am currently taking a course to learn more about instructional design theories and how to implement techniques to make sure the learning outcomes are achieved.  I have seen so many online courses that have no rhyme or reason to how they are organized.  There are so many components to creating a good course whether face-to-face or online, but sometimes I think faculty forget to think about their audience (their students) before developing a course.  Instead of just putting content together, it is so important to evaluate what you want your students to get out of the course first.

I read a great blog post titled What Everbody Ought to Know About Instructional Design in the The Rapid eLearning Blog by Tom Kuhlmann.  If you don’t have a chance to read the whole article, watching the included video from youTube will open your eyes to how much you can miss that is right in front of you.

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