As an instructional technology and data coach I work with adult learners on a daily basis. When I designed an online course for teacher professional development, I wanted to be mindful of time, understanding and creativity for my participants. Often teachers are in front of students the majority of their day: teaching, answering questions, and mentoring youth. Because of this, they do not get much time for preparation or grading. I wanted to create a course that allows teachers could go indepth with formative assessment and also design a lesson that not only is applicable in their classroom but also checks student understanding.
I designed my lessons with the idea of scaffolding in mind. Scaffolding is the idea of introducing information in progression to move participants toward a deeper understanding of material. One example of scaffolding in my lessons is the progression of learning material. I begin with the research behind formative assessment, continue with formative assessment example and then asking participant to create their own lessons using the knowledge they have learned in the course. Scaffolding reduces the cognitive load on participants and allows them to see how the lessons fit together to produce a holistic learning experience.
I also kept the philosophy of constructivism while designing my course. Constructivism is the idea that people learn through designing and building to support their own understanding of new knowledge. I designed the lessons so that participants could interact and engage with the newly learned material. By interacting with this material, participants can reinforce learned knowledge by creating their own material to use in their classroom. This practice not only reinforces the knowledge but also solidifies understanding of the content and process.
Lastly I wanted to increase accessibility while decreasing cognitive load by incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles into my class. Universal Design for learning analyzes how knowledge is given, understood and the amount of engagement a learner has with the information, and then designs all components to reach multiple types of learners. I did this by changing the color and format of text, utilizing audio and video to reinforce lesson objectives and main ideas and creating how to videos for users to replay if they are confused.
Some things to be mindful when creating an online course are take your time and be detailed. When I first began I was so focused on main ideas that I did not slow down to think of myself as a first time viewer of the course. Adopting a “go slow to go fast” mantra will increase understanding and decrease confusion in participants. Also I would encourage future course designers to be consistent with formatting. If each lesson is designed differently, it may affect how the learner navigates through the lesson. This could also impact the success of the learner. Being consistent also allows for the mind to pay less attention to the differences in format and more attention to the knowledge within the lesson.
You can check out my lesson by clicking on this link
Often at this time of the year, the education world becomes a highway with no speed limit. Initiatives, to-dos and goals are the cars with no speed limit and no driving manners. They could be going so fast you cannot see them or so slow they could cause an accident. Me? On my highway I am the pavement bearing the weight of all the cars while being mindful of the upkeep of my highway.
While the cars were traveling on. An unexpected roadblock occured, my two year old son got sick. I watched as the cars began to swerve out of control and try and stay on the road. I thought of everything I could do to try and work a half day to get that project done, finish those phone calls, create that one presentation and then I checked Twitter.
"This was one of the first tweets that popped up on my feed. I thought for a minute, Ashlie this is a sign, stay home, be a mom and enjoy it while you can." The project can wait eight hours, those phone calls you can make tomorrow, and that presentation? It will be there when the sun rises. I scooped up my son and we cuddled, spending time that was much needed mentally and physically for both of us.
Too often we get so busy that what we see ahead of us are our tasks and not human relationships. After taking a step back and looking at the big picture the eight hours I got to spend with my son were the best most relaxing eight hours I have had in a long time. I will always be busy. I will always take on new challenges and try and be the best I can be, not only on a professional level but a personal level. You need to find balance and that is why at least two lanes on my highway will be family friendly.
Thank you @alicekeeler for reminding me how precious life is.
I had the opportunity to virtually meet with four professionals in education tonight about utilizing tools and text enhancements to help students comprehend new material and communicate what they understand. All five of us had different backgrounds in education, did not live within 120 miles of each other and taught different age levels. The one thing we had in common was improving education for students.
We shared ideas and examples of ways we bridged the gap to meet the needs of all types of students. We listened to struggles, celebrated accomplishments and reflected on what's next for our own development as both students and teachers in a 21st century world.
After the conversation ended I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. I had double the amount of energy before the conversation began and I was ready to change the world with all of the inspiration and ideas they gave me.
I credit these emotions to the conversation itself. Just by listening, relating and visualizing what they were speaking about and knowing we were standing on similar ground, I felt the benefits of being able to share and communicate.
I would love to be able to do this in a professional setting on a consistent basis, where the opportunity to engage in conversations with others who are working towards the same goal exists. Our conversation could lead to an idea, an understanding or even change to help make the experience for students in our building even better.
How often would you need these conversations? Would they have to be scheduled consistently at the same time in the same place? What would a schedule look like where there is some free time to plan, discuss, or communicate with others who you may normally not run into in a normal work day?
Below is a short video about conversation
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or examples of how this could work in a professional setting.