A Work in Progress: Refining and Designing an Online Learning Module

To recap, my action plan is to take David Allen’s popular “Getting it Done” organizational framework and apply it to Google Calendar in the context of UCC in order to improve boys organization cognitive control. Energized, I jumped right into the process. I mapped out my curriculum, the key points I wanted to address, and a method for delivery (fully online). Then I ran into a snag – How do I make an online course that students would engage with, enjoy and most of all learn something?

Task 1: Immersing in the content

Having previously written the Google qualification exams I was confident that I knew enough about Google Calendar to suggest interesting and useful tips to improving ones organizational skills with the tool. However, my knowledge of  David Allen’s Getting it Done technique was less than desirable so my first action was to take his course on Lynda.com. Our school recently subscribed to the campus edition which gives all community members full access to the very extensive and informative library of courses, one of which is David Allen’s.

The plan was always to deliver the course online and I wanted to use this project as a way to become more immersed in online teaching and learning strategies. In addition to taking in David Allen’s seminar on Lynda.com, I decided to join my very first MOOC entitled K-12 Blended and Online Learning. It was hosted on coursera.com and presented by the Kennesaw State University and the Online Learning Consortium. I made the commitment to finish this course but it was during a busy time in our school schedule and I was only able to complete about 75% of the course before prioritizing my time. The upside to joining the MOOC was getting access to all the resources and materials, which helped ground my planning of this course to be delivered through Haiku (our LMS).

Task 2: Create a Plan

A project of this scale required a plan. Armed with a whiteboard and some whiteboard pens I set out to map out my project. Energized I worked tirelessly to figure out what needed to be included to make the course meaningful and engaging. As I continued to work I realized that I might have taken on a project that was bigger than I had expected and required more time than I had allotted. As I worked out the big ideas of the course I continued to find interesting and exciting hooks for the students. I started to explore gamification as a reward system, online assessment strategies, reflection opportunities, social media connections. The project grew and grew. When the plan was complete and I sat back and looked at the content and ideas I realized that it was a much larger time commitment than I had originally planned. Resigned I decided I would work on it as much as I could and try to complete it by April to satisfy my goals for Cohort21. As I am writing this I am realizing that I may be presenting an unfinished work as my presentation but I am committed to “getting it done”.

Task 3: Just Do it

At the beginning of the project I was energized. I had so many ideas running through my head and I was feverishly revising my work as I forged ahead. I added little tips into the course called “Archer’s Advice” that pushed the limits of the students and their knowledge of Google Calendar. I used videos from Lynda.com and Synergyse.com to help support students foundational knowledge of Google Calendar. I created step by step instructions for connecting all of UCCs resource calendars into one place and then provided strategies for students to chunk and plan out their work weeks. In November I attended a conference focused on Learning and the Brain and came back with new knowledge on Mindfulness and the Neuroscience of learning that I wanted to incorporate into my project. January came along and I attended another conference in England and came back with even more ideas that I wanted to incorporate into the project, and once again the project grew in scope. At that point I became conflicted with my day to day commitments and my commitment to this project. I decided I needed to take a step back and evaluate my project. 17 pages into the curriculum document I was starting to feel fatigued and needed to refuel.

I picked the project up again after March break and started reading through it with fresh eyes. I started to make more revisions and clarified my goals. The work is moving along slowly but progress is being made and when it is complete I believe it will be a impactful learning experience for the boys. If it is successfully implemented I can envision a series of online supplemental instruction modules that will help to improve cognitive control, not only for the boys at UCC but for the entire community. The question is whether I will have the energy or the time to create more of them….

1 thought on “A Work in Progress: Refining and Designing an Online Learning Module

  1. Ryan, this is certainly an important and what-will-be comprehensive addition to the executive functioning of your students at UCC. I know the feeling of looking at a project with fresh eyes – it has the power to help you see what you need to get done “at the core”, and I am hoping we, as Cohort 21 members, can help offer you some suggestions and inspiration!

    My first instinct is to go back to @ddoucet and @lmcbeth ‘s presentation at MaRS – which you missed, but is still archived on our site – around Design Thinking. In this series of protocols, the first step is to empathize. To this end, what is the need of your students? What faculty can help you, or will be impacted by this initiative? Where will your project be ‘felt’ the most? Can you get parents on board to help with the uptake at the outset?

    Hopefully, these questions can help you move forward in the progress and process!
    See you soon at UCC – really looking forward to it!

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