Weekly Writing, 4.3, Bob

  • What have you learned about integrated course design, taxonomies of learning, active learning, or problem-based learning?
  • How is the online learning environment working for you? What are the advantages and/or the challenges of taking this class in this format?
  • What have you learned about yourself during this unit? Have you discovered anything new about your own learning styles or preferences? Have you developed any new strategies that help you learn more effectively?

I summarize integrated course design with three insights I have picked up through the course and with Fink’s five elements.

First, creating community — this is a lifelong benchmark or touchstone for me, and my thinking about any enterprise.   In 1987, I attended the Alaska statewide conference on creating community in Sitka.   It was a formative experience for me.      Similarly, Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone reminded me of these values.   Creating, even briefly for a place-time, a community of learning is something that I can support, even get invigorated by.

Second flipping the classroom so that content is learned outside the contact time and contact time is used for specific application, is a new notion for me.   Though, as I have mentioned another framing of the concept: extending or continuing the conversation beyond the moment of the classroom is a practice I have celebrated for years.

Third, helping learners solve real problems or problems formulated in a real world format. Learners do what it is they are learning to do.   This is a closely held value in both my criticism of my schooling and as I have tried to help, my employees learn to do their jobs.   I think the first, most articulate, formulation of it came from reading Eliot Wiggington’s, Sometimes a Shining Moment.

Finks’ five:

  1. What are the important situational factors in a particular course and learning situation?
  2. What should our full set of learning goals be?
  3. What kinds of feedback and assessment should we provide?
  4. What kinds of teaching and learning activities will suffice, in terms of achieving the full set of learning goals we set?
  5. Are all the components connected and integrated, that is, are they consistent and supportive of each other?

I am comfortable in an online learning environment.   In particular, this course with its collaborative approach to blogging and commenting is effective for me.   It makes sense to take a course about teaching and learning online… well, online.   Indeed, it would be a little odd to take it in a solely face-to-face environment.   Where we are having frequent synchronous sessions, it would be easy to see this in a blended environment too.

I have a theoretical understanding of integrated course design.   However, because I am not a teacher I lack the details of practical experience with integrated course design.   I lack the repetition of daily practice.   I also understand a little bit more about how I include my direct reports in making the content of our training, indeed every aspect of our workplace, for our student employees.   I feel hampered not having their contribution and insights into the work.     That insight has raised the question for me, about how teachers can create courses on their own.   I know that in my situation professors frequently design courses on their own.   Sometimes core courses are informed by conversations and are practically designed by individuals.   This is a significant difference from how work is done in many other work places.   I wonder how much better courses would be if along with the content expert were a team of an instructional designer and an assessment specialist.

My own learning is less of a matter for reflection at this point in the course.   Rather, I am focused on my target demographic for the “course’ we are designing as our final project.   Getting out of my own head and into theirs is the challenge.   That empathic exercise however is important.   I have been reading in popular writings about the generational differences between “Boomers’ and “Millennials.’     I am trying to avoid over generalizations like: “Kids these days….’   Rather, there are very specific differences in expectations and experience and I cannot gloss those details if I hope to facilitate learning in that demographic.

Fink, L. D. (2013).  Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Fancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Putnam RD. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.   New York: Simon & Schuster.

Wigginton, B.E. (1985). Sometimes a shining moment: The Foxfire experience.  New York: Anchor Books.


3 thoughts on “Weekly Writing, 4.3, Bob

  1. Owen


    You raise several great points, I’ll comment on the last. I agree there are some significant generational differences that we face in learning experience design. I just finished a week of faculty development activities and I am continually surprised at the lack of understanding of student (late teen, early 20 something) awareness of and experience with technology. It might be interesting to add a “generational peer” into your team of content expert, instructional designer, and assessment specialist.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Writing, 4.3, Bob, Online Pedagogy, ED 655 – Scholarship

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