After much contemplation when setting out to design the Introductory Module I had decided to continue with improving my Science 10 class; specifically the unit on Energy Transfer in Natural Systems. For the purpose of this assignment focus was placed on kinetic molecular theory, with emphasizing the Temperature, Thermal Energy, and Heat. It may be obvious that I become slightly carried away with the creation of this lesson. Although the assignment suggests we create a module, I went beyond. It is my goal to use the course material I have created in the future, I wanted to complete the lessons required to cover the whole topic of The Kinetic Molecular Theory Explains the Transfer of Thermal Energy.
Once again I felt challenged with completing another module using Moodle. Although the creation of the online module was demanding, the assignment was rewarding. Not only was I contemplating the current module, I was contemplating the entire course and what I would want my students to achieve throughout the course.
Within the creation of my Energy Transfer module, I was focusing on the importance maintaining a cohesive look throughout each of the mini-lesson activities. I wanted to ensure the students have a clear understanding of the expectations for the course. Just as Chickering & Gamson (1987) suggest I wanted to ensure there was an active learning environment where students are not simply reading from a textbook, but are engaged in multi-media learning. Students will be using Google Documents, Google Hangouts, discussion forums, YouTube, websites, Lucid Chart, and other technological tools to complete the course. Google documents, pushed by me using Doctopus, will be used throughout the course to keep their thoughts and their notes organized; also allowing them to have their notes with them wherever they may be. The students will be engaging in discussion forums for each of the activities; and they will also be able to have live chat discussions on the scheduled Google Hangouts. Each of these multi-media tools are providing the opportunity for student-centered learning (Anderson, 2008).
The main concept I kept in mind throughout the process was to build a sense of community and collaborative learning. To help foster a community environment I structured the course to have suggested and set deadlines for discussions (forum & live) and quizzes. Anderson speaks of binding learners together, forcing regular sessions to encourage group-paced learning (2008). While having the suggestion of completing weekly posts by Wednesday evening may benefit the group-paced learning environment, it does limit some of the affordances of an online learning environment and being able to move at one’s own pace.
What I had noticed, and have yet to change, is the schedule in which I suggested that students have their discussions posts completed by Wednesday. With the amount of activities and reading that would require of them, it would be quite time consuming for them, especially when the modules become involved with topics in motion and chemistry. This I will continue to reflect on, while I do not want to create a sense of being overwhelmed, the curriculum is quite intensive and difficult to cover in a three-month term.
As for my personal struggles with Moodle, they continued. At first, I was unsure of what a Splash page was, once I learned that it is a series of buttons to make navigating the site easier I knew what I was looking for. I was looking for a tool within Moodle; but apparently there is not one. Having learned how to code tables in earlier MET courses, I knew that I would be required to create a table with a series of images with links embedded. This was perhaps the easiest portion of this assignment.
Where I experienced struggles was in creating URL links for videos within the individual activity pages. I did not want all of the videos to be embedded, so I had created links. However, when I went to save the page all of the links wound up as embedded videos. I had once again asked others on Twitter for help; @Math_Johnson even went so far to spend the time in his personal moodle site attempting to figure out how to keep the videos as links only. Unfortunately we were unable to determine how to conquer this problem; therefore I had to create a work around. I had taken screenshots of the hyperlinks to create images. Once I had the images, I then embedded the images into the text, and linked those to the videos. All to maintain a sense of organization.
Overall, I set out to design this module to be used this January when I begin teaching Science 10 again. The dates I set for release reflect the dates in which I wish to introduce the topics to my students in class. I believe that I have upheld an online learning environment, which is student-centered and fosters a community of learners and of active engagement in the learning process. While, I only created one module in this course, with each class in the MET program that I am required to create online content or new lessons, I have been focusing on my Science 10 course. Each term in MET, I dedicate countless hours to this; however there is the benefit that this January my students will have a course that is new and exciting, and that they will hopefully be engaged in.
I also took the time in completing this module to include the smaller assignments we created throughout this course. I have used the digital story, Energy Transfer: Conduction in the Kitchen, the Moodle quiz. Furthermore, I was intrigued by Bitstrips and created my own for this module as well, Thermal Energy Transfer. It was also important to me that I continue to use a reference page for the resources I have used in creating this course. Each of the images used were retrieved from the Creative Commons, the videos were not embedded, as many of them were not from the Creative Commons, ergo I included them as links for the students to visit on the original sites.
Although I teach in a face-to-face environment and will be carrying out the lessons in a physical classroom, I believe the design would allow it to be used in a synchronous environment as well. I can see the benefits of using a blended learning technique in my classroom. My role will be to provide support and guidance only when required, and to help the students maintain focus on the task at hand. With that in mind, I greatly appreciate those that teach their courses in a strictly online environment, it is quite time consuming.
This has been a valuable learning experience for me and I am going to continue to explore Moodle. It is not as overwhelming as I once thought at the beginning of the term.
Anderson, T. (2008). Toward a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.), Theory and practice of online learning (pp. 45-74). Retrieved from http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/ch2.html
Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7. Retrieved fromhttp://www.aahea.org/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm