Designing an Online Blended Course : Year 2

Forgive me Cohort21 for it has been a little while since I last posted. Today I wanted to talk a little about my action plan for this year. I have decided to extend my work from last year. Last year, I developed a course for boys that used the principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done framework and applied them to Google Calendar and our internal organizational processes at UCC. However, my intention last year was to design an online module to deliver the course to the boys. This did not happen, as the year progressed the scope of the project grew and I also grew busier and busier. Tragedy struck my family near the last face-2-face when my 18 year old nephew passed away after a rock climbing accident. The project stalled and I shelved it. So what has happened since then?

During the first week back to school I presented the work I had completed at our annual technology professional development event and it was met with some enthusiasm. Two teachers showed particular excitement in the connections to their own work and offered to collaborate with me. This was energizing and I decided to pick up where I left off. At that point I had the course developed on paper and many of the instructional videos developed but there was still the task of getting all of it into an online platform and making it engaging and relevant to the boys. This has led me to this year’s action plan question:

How do I create an online blended course that is engaging, self directed, and provides effective learning opportunities to the boys? 

The Criteria for Success:

  • The course needs to be flexible, self-directed and delivered outside the current academic and co-curricular program.
  • The course needs to have mechanisms for meaningful and timely feedback (ie. students progress need to be actively monitored and assessed)
  • The course needs to be engaging and intuitive.
  • The boys need to be made aware of the course and need a reason to complete it on their own time.


No sweat right! I already feel the scope starting to expand…..

The good thing is I have already started and made good progress with the help of the two teachers I am collaborating with.  The first teacher (IB Film) gave me some time with his IB2 class. During that class I had the boys go through the course as it was (in a Google Doc) and give feedback on the concepts and activities. The google doc had videos linked in so the boys were able to get through a bunch of activities in the hour class. From the feedback the students gave me we found that the first chapter entitled “Capture” (connecting all their calendars together into one master calendar) was very relevant and immediately useful.

After that experience I met with the 2nd teacher (IB1 and IB2 coordinator from the Centre for Learning). She was equally pleased with the students’ feedback and offered to help me get the first chapter into Haiku and deliver it to the whole IB2 consortium during one of her support meetings.

Me as a Voki
My Voki Character

In the first chapter, we used Voki to create an animated version of myself that gave tips called “Archer’s Advice”. These clips were 30 to 60 second long and usually extended the students knowledge of Google Calendar (colour coding, renaming, etc). We also used Camtasia Studio to create instructional screen capture videos that we hosted on Youtube and embedded directly into the page. We also took screenshots along the way to ensure the students knew how their calendars should look like. We added links to David Allen’s course on to support his concepts. We used the polling and discussion features of Haiku to promote reflection and gauge the students’ understanding. Finally, we embedded an exit survey from Google Forms and an assignment submission button on Haiku. The students were required to fill out the survey and submit screenshots of their progression through the first chapter as evidence of completion.

Once we completed the chapter we delivered it to 57 IB2 students during a support session through the Centre for Learning. Most students completed the full chapter in the time allotted (about 20 minutes) and most filled out the survey. Not as many submitted evidence through the submission button. The information gathered from the surveys were very helpful and we plan to use this information to guide us while we create the second chapter (there are 5 chapters in total).

Stay tuned to hear more about our journey creating an online blended learning course!


6 thoughts on “Designing an Online Blended Course : Year 2

  1. Ryan, I’m sorry to hear about your nephew and clearly you deserved time to recover from that before continuing with this project. The scope of the action plan was certainly bigger than you could finish in one year, anyway, so I think it’s great that you are working on it again this year! I look forward to seeing some of the results and would love to get a look at what you have created… just for myself!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m thinking that this might be a never ending project but with support and collaboration I think I can get to some sort of satisfactory completion. It’s time to pick up the pieces and start to put fit them together again. I’ll have to make sure to practice what I preach and use some of David Allen’s strategies to stay on task and get things done!

  2. Ryan, thanks for posting this! It really inspires me to get thinking about some project based learning that I want to try, as well as thoughts on my summer course that I’ll be teaching for the first time. How can I use technology to promote self directed learning for the students? really awesome. Thanks and good luck on your continued success.

  3. Hey Ryan,
    So sorry to hear about your nephew, I can’t imagine what that must have been like.

    I am very curious about your action plan, and I hope you’ll share via more blogs and I’d love to hear more about it at the F2F! I did a Blended Learning : Personalizing Education for Students through Coursera. It isn’t being offered but I really enjoyed it and if may be helpful.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  4. Ryan,
    This is fantastic stuff. Your collaboration with your colleagues really seemed to help get it off the ground, and it sounds like an incredibly valuable course to offer. I’d love to hear more about it, as blended/online courses are something that my school has an interest in getting started with, but we’re not really sure where to begin! Your integration of various tech tools is inspiring, as well!

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