An eye out for the objective…

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I feel like I’m in the early stages of a needs assessment on myself. If you had asked me what I’m doing for my capstone a month ago I would have listed off about 5 to 10 different ideas. I have definitely been thinking about this for quite some time, years maybe. However, it’s much different when a syllabus is staring you in the face and there are deadlines to meet. It’s time for me to focus on what this capstone project will look like. The best way to sort something like this out is by talking with people in your personal learning network (PLN), so that’s what I’ve been doing.

I started by reaching out to former teacher for advice. I figured they knew my work and could help with this focus concept. I took to email asking how the summer went and then setup time to meet up for coffee. Side note, I’ve decided the phrase “meet up for coffee” is the professional version for networking in person. It doesn’t have to actually be coffee, that’s just what people say. Anyway, my coffee meet ups got me talking and allowed those ideas to get out of my head. The project began to feel more real and something I could actually accomplish.

Next I turned to fellow students and alumni in the program. What better way to get on track than talk with someone who has already been through it. This was great too because I received examples of completed projects and had a handful of conversations about other people’s experience. Some information was relevant and others wouldn’t apply, but it was good to hear just the same. The common piece of advice was to keep at it and get something done each week. Need to tap into those project management skills. The capstone project is a highly self-directed individualized project, so it can be easy to let things get out of hand by not keeping to a schedule. If I tackle a little bit at a time, then the entire process will be much easier to handle.

Finally, and most importantly I consulted with my advisor and it wasn’t just because it was a requirement for the course, but it was again helpful to talk about what I was thinking. During our conference call I presented the following two idea…

Idea 1: Creating an instructional design department for higher education) I have been working in online education in the higher education field for over a decade now. My role at the distance education department was primarily to support instructors in their teaching status. Problem I’d like to solve is instructors spend months thinking about designing their courses. I as the instructor’s “producer” don’t join the process until very late and therefore become more of a technical support person than someone who can help with learning objectives. If the focus were to change from a reactive to proactive approach an instructional designer would fit in nicely in creating online courses. How does one do this would be the main goal of my capstone project.

Idea 2: designing a “digital flipped” classroom) If you don’t know what a flipped classroom is, it’s basically when students via videos and other learning objects review materials before class to collaborate and discuss content while in class together. The question I’m looking at is how do you flip an online course with students entirely online? Well, for another one of my courses in this program I decided what I like to call the “digital flipped” classroom. What’s a digitally flipped class? Here is an example format, an instructor records their lecture and makes announcements specific to a group of learners on a Tuesday. On Wednesday students are required to view the video. On Thursday the class meets in a synchronous online format such as web conferencing. The pattern repeats itself each week as the instructor learns more about their students and can adjust the recording to meet the student’s learning needs as far as topics coverage. This model was used in a course I designed last spring and course evaluations seemed to imply this format was a tremendous success. I’d like to figure out why and create a series of learning modules so other instructors can learn from this experience. The digitally flipped course will be broken down into smaller pieces so instructors can pick an choose which aspects of this online learning model meets their learning goals.

Can you tell which way I’m leaning? Having spoken with all the people outlined earlier in this blog I think I’m leaning toward option two. Mainly because the materials for this course and some data that can be used for the needs assessment had Artie been collected. Plus, it be nice to be known as the person that designed it digitally flip classroom 😉 I’m always up for feedback so feel free to comment on the blog.

See you online,
~TIM~