Real Online Course Design Part IV: A Breakthrough Explosion of Creativity

This morning I awoke feeling unsettled with my upcoming online courses. So, at 6:30am, I got my computer out and opened all of my notes thus far (Part I, Part II, and Part III). I had no idea what to do or how to proceed. All I had was a vague idea that I would find the answer in an article about teaching and learning.

I decided to search the journal New Directions for Teaching and Learning. This is a journal that publishes articles by authors who are career teachers. They emphasize the authority of the practitioner. I hoped that I would find something inspiring that was written by someone with decades of experience trying to facilitate significant learning in their higher ed courses. I read articles about experiential learning, learner-centered teaching, meaningful learning, personal learning, giving up teaching for learning, assessing learning, etc. There were some interesting articles, but nothing clicked. I also read a few referenced articles from Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

I opened up my fourth "Planning My Online Courses" document, and began rewriting my learning goals. Stuff like:

What sorts of outcomes would I like students to achieve?

1.     Goal-Setting (Career, Personal)

2.     Self-knowledge

3.     Authenticity/Congruence

4.     Personal Responsibility/ Inner locus of control

5.     Emotional Intelligence


Strategies for accomplishing them

1.     Self-knowledge: 

a.     Personal Inventories

b.     Reflection questions: Career, personality, relationships, goals, worries, problems, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

c.     10-yr plan: Where do you see yourself in 10 years. Be specific.

2.     Authenticity/congruence

a.     Recognize feelings

b.     “I” statements

c.     Being a process (not fixed)

3.     Personal responsibility

a.     Recognizing the impact I make

b.     Reflecting on what I learn and how I will change my behavior moving forward

c.     Reflecting on mistakes, and how to avoid them

4.     Emotional intelligence

a.     Reflection questions/worksheets about forgiveness, gratitude, emotional exploration, gratitude journal

I even created tables to plan experiential learning courses (under which I wrote "No").

It all reeked of Dr. Patrick M Whitehead. I realized that I wouldn't be able to create an online course that was about my future students without the input from my future students. So I opened a new (fifth) document. At the top I wrote: What I need is a structured way for students to identify problems of personal interest to them that are related to their interest in the cousre (sic) (I could give a handful of possible examples), and then explore/work out solutions for those problems.

That is when the floodgates withdrew. Two hours later and I had written a 2000-word introductory module for a learning-contracted asynchronous online course