General Suggestions and Feedback

IMPORTANT! Name your wikipages and attached files using unique titles/names

I cannot emphasize how important this is! As we work on the portfolio pages and units of our mini-courses, it is highly likely that we will use very similar titles such as "portfolio", "unit 1" "unit 2" etc. Wiki does not allow users to use page titles that already exist. So I SUGGEST THAT WE NAME OUR WIKIPAGES AND FILES USING UNIQUE TITLES. For example, FOR YOUR UNIT 1 YOU MAY NAME IT "Unit 1: FULL TITLE" instead of "Unit 1." Similarly, for your curriculum maps and other attached files, please also use unique names such as "ICM_your name.doc"

How can I develop a good topic to work on?

(a) Narrow down: Start with something big and significant to set your direction, then narrow down to a very specific topic and related learning outcomes. (The learning modules e.g., needs assessment, learner analysis will further help you in this regard)

(b) Pedagogical ideas are the key: Whether you are addressing a tech tool, learning strategy, or content area topic, you need to have a clear focus on important pedagogical ideas that can help teachers to transform/expand their thinking about classroom issues. Such ideas need to be research-based ones, not personal opinions.

(c) Find research-based references about your topic, such as literature reviews and book chapters that provide you with a clear synthesis of the state-of-the-art knowledge about that topic. Don’t merely rely on your own experience/expertise/research.


How do I decide what should go into the mini-course and what should be in my portfolio?

Your portfolio documents the process that leads to the final product, which is your mini-course. So you may find that the two overlap quite a lot; That is fine. Some of the content from the portfolio may be copied to your final product, such as info about the learner, objectives, etc.

To facilitate your own as well as others' navigation, please make sure that your personal intro page, portfolio page, and the front page of your mini-course are hyperlinked to each other.


The Learning Outcomes vs. Performance-based Learning Objectives?

The terms of learning outcomes and objectives are sometimes used interchangeably. In the context of the instructional design process, the analysis of the learning outcomes is for setting target learned capabilities such as knowledge/skills/strategies/attitudes related to a focal practice(s) in context. By this point we need to set a scope and analyze the specific types of outcomes involved. The outcomes may be described using relatively general terms, to characterize the nature and conditions of the outcomes ranging from cognitive/metacognitive to social, emotional/attitudinal, and cultural.

In the phase of designing performance-based learning objectives, we are further creating more elaborated statements of learning objectives. We do so using performance-based terms in a way that make the objectives assessable.

What do task analysis and Instructional Curriculum Map mean to do?

The goal of our task analysis is to analyze each major course-level objective (target objective) to progressively identify the prerequisites (enabling and supportive objectives), till we reach the entry level skills the learners are supposed to have before they start this class. These specific objectives identified through the above process will constitute our unit/lesson-level objectives. We'll need to look at their connections and relationships to decide in what sequence they will be addressed, and through how many units.

An ICM helps to visualize the progressive levels of objectives, their connections, and the unit structures.

What are some tools I can use to create my curriculum map?

Web-based tools

Microsoft-based tools

Good examples of Curriculum Maps

Here are two good examples from our previous class (see their maps in their portfolio pages)

Melissa_Filotas'_Portfolio_Page

Catherine_Strattner's_Portfolio_Page#Curriculum_Map

Relationships between course-level objectives, unit-level objectives, and prerequisites?

Colleen B. asked a really good question related to the above issue and I think my reply might be useful to others as well.

We may think of course-level objectives as "target objectives" and unit-level objectives as one (or multiple) level lower enabling and supportive objectives. So the prerequisites identified for each target objective will be sequenced as unit-level objectives.

The target learning objectives are generated through instructional analysis (e.g., needs assessment and learner analysis) and definition of learning outcomes and objectives. These analyses help to define the gaps between students' current and the target knowledge/skills/attitudes.

Task analysis helps to look into the gaps and clearly define/represent the prerequisites that need to be progressively addressed through well-sequenced and designed learning activities. Each prerequisite to be addressed constitutes a specific enabling/supportive learning objective; the sequenced learning objectives constitute the milestones on the learning pathway. Each of the learning objectives may correspond to a special learning section/activity; but sometimes it is better to addressed several closely related prerequisites/objectives through an integrated learning activity/session. So understanding the logical/psychological sequence and the deep connections among the prerequisites will help to inform the design, organization, and dynamic flow of the learning activities.

So the course-level objectives should focus on target learning outcomes that are (directly) meaningful and relevant to the learners, and should not be a sum of everything we listed for the unit objectives; otherwise they will become tedious, overwhelming, and hard to understand. The unit level objectives are more elaborated, reflecting the prerequisites we have identified for the target learning objectives.

For example,in Colleen B.'s portfolio, she currently listed the course-level objectives as:

"At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

   * State the meaning of differentiated instruction
   * Identify data useful to analyze
   * Explain how computer programs can be useful for data analysis
   * Perform at least one method of data analysis by hand
   * Interpret analysis for appropriate application to classroom instruction
   * State examples of differentiated instruction that can be used in response to data analysis
   * Understand the benefits of differentiated instruction "

It seems that several of these items may be treated as prerequisites (enabling objectives) instead of target course-level objectives. It might be possible to put items 3-6 into one objective: analyze identified student data in a way that... The current four items can be treated as prerequisites (unit level objectives). This is just an example.


Common Issues

In reviewing the draft units designed by students, I often find the following common issues that need to be better addressed:

  • Learning engagement and interaction: Among the components of the evaluation criteria, learning engagement and interaction is probably the most important aspect to be improved. Many of you have already made various efforts to encourage reflections and discussions and provide stimulating questions. To make further improvement, you may think about additional strategies such as:
    • (a) Continual/deepening work on an authentic problem and case analysis: Use an authentic task/case in the beginning to catch learners' interest and anchor their thinking and reading and revisit/re-work on this task/case after they've learned new ideas/skills from your course. The Design Project we have been working on through out ETAP 623 is an example of this strategy. In this mini-course Integrating Metacognitive Development in Mathematics Instruction, the author used a case study to kick off unit 1, and then revisit this case in the subsequent units.
    • (b) Providing specific examples to make your content accessible and interesting. Many of our mini-courses rely on reading of articles. To make these articles/readings/texts accessible and interesting to teachers, we should complement them with specific examples such as lesson plans, student work/artifacts, rubrics, videos, etc. You might be able to find good videos related to your topic at http://www.youtube.com, http://www.teachertube.com, and http://www.watchknow.org/ For each major piece to read/watch, you may make experience more engaging and interactive by providing a guiding question before the reading/video, and highlight the key messages after it.
  • Create progressive chains within each unit to facilitate understanding: It is fine and helpful to cite and use external resources such as articles to read. However, do not simply "whole sale" the materials. You need to make clearer what progressive issues these readings help to address, highlight how these issues are addressed by the readings, and create an overview / summary in for lengthy information you're citing. Doing so will help elaborate and refine the progressive learning path within each unit and increase interactivity.
  • Navigation and course organization: Although I'm open to other styles of structuring, I find it helpful to use the front/introduction page of a course to inform the learner of your focus, objectives, organization of the course, and learning suggestions, followed by titles (with brief intro) of and links to all the units. A good example is: Developing Music Analysis Skills Using Feedback, Composition And Technology
  • Page layout: Research shows that learners are very likely to scan and skip when reading a long text-heavy webpage. A design strategy is to make each page short. For example, by clicking the "page down" key for no more than 3 times a user should be able to see the bottom of the unit page. You may also want to keep each paragraph short, focusing on one key point only; and to use sub-headings to inform participants of the information structures and blocks.

Examples of interaction activities

Each mini-course will support independent learning about its core contents; and include interactive activities as appropriate, including (a) activities that can be fully supported by this wiki space and related offline tools; or (b) an activity "script" to be used by a mini-course facilaitor (e.g. a professional development organizer who wants to use your mini-course) who will actually implement this activity.

Example of activities that can be impelemnted within this wiki space:

You can also design interactions/activities outside of this KNILT wiki using other sites (e.g. online survey using Survey Monkey, a Google project/discussion/blog etc.) and include links to such activities in your unit page.

Can I create a discussion task and space in my wiki-based course

Yes. You can create spaces for learners to post their ideas/lesson plans and engage in discussions. You can create a discussion page for a topic/unit, as shown in this example Talk:Example discussion page. You can link this discussion area to your unit page using [[Talk:Example discussion page]]

SAND BOX