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