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Faculty Perspective: My Course Design Practicum Experience

Distance Learning -- Mon, 04/13/2015 - 12:00am

Dr. James Kimball is a Senior Instructor and the Director of Freshman Mathematics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. During the summer 2014, he participated in the Office of Distance Learning’s Course Design Practicum (CDP) online experience in preparation for designing and teaching Elementary Statistics online. A year removed from the experience and having taught online, Dr. Kimball shares his experiences as a Guest Blogger and includes a video about his course design.

The purpose of this post is to highlight my experiences in the Office of Distance Learning Course Design Practicum (CDP).  Although I had already completed my Quality Matters (QM) certification before beginning the CDP course, I did not have a well-developed idea of the look and feel of the online course that I wanted to create.  My original thoughts were to simply create a Moodle page for the course, provide links to the textbook, post the homework assignments, and record a few short videos on the topics I considered most difficult.  I even said to myself, “Not a big deal. I know what the students need to learn. I’m just communicating online rather than face-to-face.”  While the latter part of this statement is true, I can safely say that I would not have been able to create and develop an online course as effectively and efficiently without the CDP experience.

Let me begin by saying that Course Design Practicum is NOT a 10 week repeat of the QM certification course.  That is, 10 weeks of reading about what I must do in my online course or what I cannot do in my online course.  While CDP does incorporate and highlight certain things from QM, the majority of the course centers around the design of an online course and the tools and technology available to create a satisfying online experience for both instructors and students.  CDP helped me to, in a short amount of time, make a firm decision about the content and outcomes for my online course and efficiently find the technology tools that would allow me to accomplish those outcomes.

In addition to learning about different ways for me to interact with students and for students to interact with each other, the process of completing CDP was beneficial because I had never taken a course online.  As I completed the assignments and exercises, I would quickly decide what I liked, what I did not like, what I could use in my own course, and what would not work in my course or for my teaching style.   For example, one of the CDP activities was to post a VoiceThread, which is similar to a video post to an online forum.  I see how this activity would be beneficial to students in many courses, but I did not consider it to be a useful tool in the online statistics course I was designing.  However, there were many different virtual whiteboard tools that I liked and incorporated into my course.

I think CDP was beneficial to me because it allowed me to accomplish my task of creating a fully functional online course for my department within a very short time period.  Like many courses in college, I came to fully appreciate Course Design Practicum only after it was over.

You can watch a short six minute video about my course design at this link (click here).

Dr. James Kimball, Senior Instructor and Director of Freshman Mathematics