…is almost ready. A couple changes here, a few modifications there and bam! Course prototype for Social Studies 30 2.0 is ready to be tested.
Before I delve deeper into the feedback Katherine and I received for our course prototype, I first want to give a shout-out to everyone in EC&I 834 for the development of their prototypes. Just like Ashley, I too am grateful that I was able to see what others have created and I can only imagine all the work that has gone into the courses that were developed.
Now for our course prototype. What a whirlwind! Although I am happy with the final product, I think Katherine, Katia, Alec, and I can all agree that perhaps Katherine and I had more difficulty understanding the project than we initially thought. It essentially became routine for us to ask questions at the end of every single Tuesday night class about this project, which Alec and Katia graciously always answered (thanks again guys!). In the end, I think we worked out something that could be used for online purposes, although there are still a few kinks to be smoothed out over time.
As we have mentioned in many previous blog posts, we decided to make a blended course environment for Social Studies 30. For our course profile, course descriptions (click here for unit 4), and assignments, we used Google Docs, and for our course shell, we used Google Classroom. Because we knew we had multiple assignments, we created two google classrooms to avoid confusion and an overwhelming set of assignments on all at one time. To access any of the documents, as well as the process to go through our course prototype, check out this link. It will give the login instructions to get into our Google Classrooms, as well as the step-by-step links if want to take a look at our course.
Warning: it is a bit heavy.
Which was, in fact, our biggest piece of feedback coming from our colleagues. We would both like to thank everyone who spent the time to go through our artefacts and our course. We understand how difficult the task was – knowing we chose a very content-heavy curriculum that hasn’t been renewed in twenty years. No new outcome-based reporting and no up-to-date resources. Also, Katherine and I did misunderstand the assignment at first; we thought we each had to develop a module course profile – as you can see by my planning for unit 4 – and then afterwards develop a 15-minute activity/lesson within that course profile. Consequently, we have a very large course prototype for a very heavy 30-level, 300+ page, 200+ objective curriculum – daunting to say to least. So, in the end, thank you to everyone who went through our course and gave us some feedback; greatly appreciated!
There were a LOT of great suggestions and ideas that came from the feedback; when we initially started addressing all of these concerns, our response became just as long as our course prototype – so, to avoid another heavy assignment, we decided to go with seven major themes that were repeated throughout all of our reviews.
- The link to Tubaland (artefact) didn’t work. We tested each other’s links to ensure they were working before sending them to people for feedback and they initally did! However, we did not realize that without an @education.uregina email, our reviewers would not be able to view the Google Form (or at least we think that is what happened). We have changed the link so that anyone can now view it!
Lack of teacher-student and student-student interaction in Google Classroom. This is very true, and a downfall to Google Classroom. Which is why we did not intend for Google Classroom to be the hub of discussion, knowing there was little interaction built into this LMS. Each student would have a blog where they would respond to various prompts throughout the semester. On Katherine’s Unit 2 module, she includes a blogging post about Canada’s staples, which requires students to interact, learn from each other, and provide each other with feedback. We wanted to use the various strengths of different platforms: Google Classroom is wonderful for providing immediate feedback and organizing assignments and WordPress blogs create opportunities for students to collaborate and discuss things in an online setting. We would also use Zoom for Unit 4, which allows for interaction between different Social Studies 30 classrooms. We find that discussion on Google Classroom is not fluid and students can have very limited engaging conversations, so this is why we used more than one platform for our course. However, we will be more clear about these intentions next time around.
Long paragraphs. Our course profile did have very long paragraphs which, we understand, must have been daunting to read. We were worried about this when we were elaborating our profile. We actually received different feedback about our long paragraphs; some reviewers appreciated the information provided, while others found it intimidating. We believe, in the end, this does come down to different learning styles and different teaching styles. Some appreciate longer paragraphs, while others prefer short bullet points – even we felt this throughout the elaboration of the course. I actually prefer paragraphs, while Katherine prefers concise bullet points. This is something we look forward to exploring further in the future and trying to manage to attain a balance that would fit most learning and teaching styles.
- Confusing order of assignments – We acknowledge that there are confusing elements of this course. We believe this is partly because people providing us feedback could only view the online aspect of the course and missed out on the information we would provide face-to-face (or over Zoom). We struggled throughout the elaboration of the course prototype ourselves with the idea of a blended environment – we questioned how much information would be shared in person/over zoom and how much needed to be shared online. This is evidently a great learning process and something that we will review in the development of our next prototypes. We purposely chose to order our assignments as the Google Classroom LMS organizes them, having the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top, because this is how it would look throughout the course (although we understand this may be confusing, and yet again, another difficulty with Google Classroom that we had not realized prior to the feedback).
- Sorting assignments in topics – This is a fantastic suggestion; I had no idea this was even possible on Google Classroom! Definitely something that we would add next time to our course to help organize our assignments.
- Heavy prototype – We acknowledge we both had very heavy prototypes (as I previously mentioned in this post). This was due, in part, to the fact that the Social Studies 30 curriculum is very heavy (330 pages of heavy). There are over 200 objectives that teachers are supposed to cover in this curriculum. However, we could have reduced some of the work and reading (especially in my unit… I tend to write and write and write, and this is not always beneficial. Something I need to work on in every aspect!). Because our program was so heavy, we really tried to create engaging and interactive artefacts. It’s a difficult feat to make economics and confederation exciting, so we really focused on making the content suitable to our grade 12 audience (puns, technology-use). This curriculum is very content-driven (other than creating a dialectic essay) and, as a result, can seem daunting.
- Additional step-by-step assignment guide for students – We had written up a step-by-step guide for our reviewers to follow along our prototype because we knew it was heavy and at times confusing. It was suggested that we do this for the students as well. This is a great suggestion and one that we will add to our next course prototype. At first, we didn’t feel it was necessary because of the blended aspect of the course, but it never hurts to add a written dimension to the verbal instructions given in class (particularly because of the different learners that exist!). This will also help those who may be absent for a face-to-face class or a zoom session catch-up on their own time.
Because I am already over the 1000 word mark, I will end this final course prototype summary simply by offering the links to all my previous posts about the creation process, from my initial planning stage, to the analysis of Canvas versus Google Classroom, to the decision on interactions within the course, to the final touch-ups.
Thanks again for all the feedback – and thanks to Katherine for being an awesome partner!