What a summer it has been!
Last Friday we wrapped up the final day of presentations for this summer’s Design a Quality Course: Online or Blended cohort . . . and it was, well, amazing from where I sat!
The 25 faculty members who came to us only 11 short weeks ago (I’m guessing some would argue that they weren’t short at all) are clearly different from those who are leaving this workshop series. They know that there is still a lot of development work ahead of them, but they seem almost inspired by the possibilities of what they have seen and learned this summer as they continue their quest to design a quality online or blended course. In just 10 meetings, they’ve learned and experienced so much as a group – and established some wonderful relationships with colleagues along the way.
In their presentations, they showed participants one very tiny sliver of their summer work and shared their reflections of the whole experience. Some shared how they had been transformed by the opportunity (which could be another blog post!)
I still remember our first meeting(s) and how amazed I was at the diversity among them. On a very basic level, they represented every college on campus, and 18 different schools and departments. Some had experience teaching online courses; others had none. Some were technology novices, while others were comfortable and competent with technology. Some were designing “new” courses; others were teaching courses they had taught for years. Some were new(er) to teaching; others had been teaching since . . . well, a really long time. Some were designing courses for undergraduates; others for graduate students only. Some were designing general education courses; some elective courses; some courses for majors only. Some courses were “content heavy”; some were very much applied. Some faculty were designing fully online courses and others designing blended courses of a varied “blendededness.”
Whew. As I said, it was a very diverse group!
They’ve spent the summer learning about purposeful online and blended course design, using the QUALITY MATTERS (QM) 2008 – 2010 standards as a guide. At the heart of the QM standards is “Alignment”; the idea that our learning objectives, our assessments, our resources and materials, and our learning activities should work in tandem, each supporting the other, to help insure that students are reaching the intended learning objectives. While this concept of alignment should be core for all courses, for some, it seemed to have been the first time they had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of dedicated time to reflect deeply about each of the alignment components and to design a course that would accomplish all that they needed to.
And, while the majority of time was spent on the “design” components, we did spend time learning about (and working in) Sakai, the course management system that Illinois State University will be moving to beginning next Spring (with Blackboard still being available until Fall ’12.) We also looked at a variety of technology tools that can assist faculty to develop their online components, including SoftChalk, Screencast-o-matic, and Camtasia, which were big hits. (We did look at other technologies as well, but these were the ones that tended to receive the most attention by cohort faculty.)
If you were a participant in this workshop series and you’ve happened across this blog post, I hope you’re not offended by what must seem like a very “mushy” and perhaps not very “me” post here. Please know that you have inspired ME to continue to do what I do – and do it even better. It was truly a privilege to work with all of you this summer.
While the faculty are clearly the stars of this show, what happens in the background is vital to the success of any cohort program . . . so I’d like to send very special shout-outs to Mayuko Nakamura, who was my tireless partner in this endeavor ; to Rob Koehler, who created the Sakai documentation for the cohort and assisted with other support; to Chasity Logan, who managed all of the logistics of getting everyone their nametags, credit for attending, and — most importantly, I’m sure — to getting everyone fed; and to Charles Bristow, who may not have been with us in body for the majority of the summer, but was certainly with us in spirit.
Well . . . the new QM 2011 – 2013 rubric is now available. I think I’ll wait to tell them.
Here’s looking forward to a wonderful new year!
For more information about Quality Matters please visit the Quality Matters website. For an annotated, copy of the Quality Matters 2011-2013 rubric, please contact Jean-Marie Taylor (email@example.com).