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Archive for March, 2011

Continuing Ed – Instructional Design

March 14, 2011 1 comment

Moodle has been a big part of my work-life since last summer when Springfield College announced that we were migrating to that platform.  Just about all of the training that I have been doing has focused on what I call “push button” issues – how to set up a course, how to add content, etc.  There’s a lot more to creating a good course, though, then just knowing how all the bells and whistles work.  You need to understand the basics of good course design and how to build a learning environment where students will succeed.  I got a taste of how to do that last summer when we received our official Moodle training, but I have always been interested in learning more.  When I saw that Simmons Continuing Education was offering an online course in instructional design, I jumped at the chance to take it.

Taking an online course in instructional design was an interesting experience because we got to operate in a virtual classroom that exhibited the design principles we were learning.  By far, the most important thing I learned was the theory of backwards design.  As you can probably guess, the idea here is to start by asking yourself, “What should my students be able to do/know at the end of my instruction,” and then build the course backwards from there.  The last step is to develop the activities the students will perform in order to reach those goals.  It seems so simple, but it’s amazing how many times people do just the opposite and end up with less than desirable results.

I’m not a master at backwards design yet, but I’m a real convert because of the link it creates between exercises and outcomes.  My hope is to incorporate it into more of my courses and to gently introduce it into my work with faculty so that we can improve the workshops that I do with them.  Since Babson paid for the class, I’m also planning on giving a short presentation for my fellow Reference Librarians so that I can share what I’ve learned.  Maybe I can get them thinking backwards as well!

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