It’s that time of the semester again, although for the last time (for now). I am taking EC&I 834: Designing for Blended and Online Learning with Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt and it is the final course in my MEd (and finishing that is one of my goals!).
Anyway, back to the task at hand. I am an instructional designer at the University of Regina, working primarily with online courses. Since “instructional designer” doesn’t immediately conjure up much for most people, let me explain that a bit. I am assigned to work with instructors who are developing a new online (or blended) course or revising an existing course to support them in positive learning and teaching experiences. This can include providing information about best practices when teaching online (because no, it isn’t always the same as face-to-face and no, it isn’t always good approach to copy and paste your lecture notes into the online space and call it done), content delivery recommendations (video, text, audio, links), feedback on workload, graphic or multimedia design options (we have people for producing those potentially), layout and functionality questions, technical assistance, and a bunch of question answering that just needs to be done. I am very much in a support role most of the time, with some instructors happy to work with me and others having very little comfort or willingness with adjusting their thinking around teaching.
To change things up, I’m currently working with a colleague to develop an online course which we will be teaching this summer. So my second goal is to use this course to get a couple modules developed, get some feedback, and get ideas for how we could do things in interesting and innovative ways that work with our constraints. This will be my second time teaching a university class, first time team teaching, and first time teaching online. It will be a really good experience for me and this class comes at the perfect time!
My third goal is to talk a bit more about designing for blended. I’ve been waiting for blended to really take off at U of R since I started here back in 2011 and it hasn’t really gone very far. That could be partially because defining blended has been hard.
And I have a fourth goal: Talk with more people about designing for online and blended learning. Because the people I work with every day are focused on that, we do a lot of talking about it but sometimes we end up creating our own little filter bubble. We each have thoughts on various things but we can occasionally lack exposure to other ways of thinking and doing. So I’m always happy to get myself out of that and talk with others to see what their experience is, what thoughts they have, what ways they would do things.
So I’m looking forward to this semester. It’s great to see some people I’ve been in a number of other courses with, some I’ve met once or twice, and a bunch of new faces!