Digitally Literate Courses: Structure of courses, modules, & learning pathways

Digitally Literate Courses: Structure of courses, modules, & learning pathways

This is the sixth project update for my project “Digitally Literate Courses” as part of the One Side Project challenge. In my first update, I identified the focus and goals of this work. In my second update, I discussed some of my thinking about the pricing plan of the courses. In my third update I discussed reviving my mission and focus. In the fourth post, I detailed the deliverables that will be included in the courses. In the fifth update, I discussed the need for a critical friends group and identified the name for this initiative.

In this post I’ll describe the structure of content in the courses, modules, and learning pathways.

Building the structure of the school

As I’ve detailed in a previous post, the name of the initiative will be The NExT School. NExT is an acronym that will stand for studying the Nexus of Education and Technology.

The school will be divided into individual courses. Each course will contain individual modules of content to break up the courses into subsections to make it easier for students to differentiate content and focus in each area.

At this point, I’ve tested out Teachable and Teachery to start building and offering the school and individual courses. I also tested out a very cool learning platform that might be perfect…but the developer is still scaling up the platform. Hopefully in the coming months I can get my hands on it and blog about experience.

For now, I’m planning on using my own self-hosted WordPress install. I’m using the Divi theme with the Divi Builder. The Sensei plugin will turn the site into a learning management system. I thought about Restrict Content Pro to handle the closing off of content…but for now I’ll stick to Sensei. WooCommerce should be able to handle the payments.

Modules for each course

As I stated up above, each of the courses I develop will be broken up into a series of modules. My thinking is that students can choose to work through the modules of the course in any fashion they see fit. Reflections (blogging) and self-assessment will be built in across the individual modules. But, individuals can select the learning pathway that works best for them.

To complete a specific course, they’ll need to complete each module in the course. Each course may have one, two, or three modules. In my current courses, I usually focus on five modules. I’m thinking this may be too much and annoy learners if I take a deeper dive. My focus in developing these courses will be to focus on directives and specific granular activities learners must complete. But…I’ll explain more about my thinking and the modules in the next section.

Two possibilities for module organization

In the development of the courses and modules, I want to build in opportunities for learners to interact with others, obtain feedback, and have time to build & share. I don’t want primarily consumption of content (text, image, video, audio) and the learner responding without proper scaffolding.

I currently have two possibilities for organizing the modules. To me, this is is a very important element. The organization of the course content will speak to how approachable and responsive this is in scaffolding students. I’ll provide some details below. Please let me know what you think.

Module Organization Possibility #1

In this structure, each course would contain three to five modules. Once again, fewer modules might be better and I’ll shoot for three. Module One would introduce the learning objectives and provide a self-assessment. Module Three or Five would be the conclusion for the course. This would include the final submission of work products. It would also include the post-assessment and feedback for the course.

Each module would contain five components. This would be the module introduction, Digging Deeper, selected Readings, Video Gallery, and the Discussion/Assignment/Badges component. The Digging Deeper section would include a video lecture from the course instructor. The Discussion/Assignment/Badges section would include a reflective discussion prompt, final make for the module, and metadata for the badge for the module. Digital badges will be built in across the courses.

Module Organization Possibility #2

The second course structure follows the structure outlined by the P2PU Course in a Box initiative. Each course would contain one to three modules. Most likely being limited to one module per course.

The module would be broken up into the following sections: outcomes, projects, concepts, discussion, and resources.

  • Outcomes would include the introduction, key questions, learning outcomes, and assessments.
  • Projects would identify the ideas and skills that learners will master during the module. This section would also suggest projects that could be completed to show mastery.
  • Concepts would identify the what are the design principles and content for the course and module. The P2PU guide suggests that the instructor focuses on “play and learn by providing low floors and wide walls. Design for all senses.”
  • Discuss would be the community that I believe needs to be built in to the system. At this point I’m considering setting up a private instance of Slack for discussion threads and chats. Skype, Hangouts, or Facebook Live would be used to regularly provide “just in time” learner support.
  • Resources would include any/all extra supporting and scaffolding materials needed for the unit. I typically like to give my students more resources than they’ll need for an assignments. I’d fold in the readings and videos here.

Next Steps

I’m continuing to play and build the site and initial course. I’m considering having the initial course offered for free, but asking that learners sign in and create an account.

I’m also weighing several other options/elements after meeting with some of critical friends during my travels this summer. I’ll share more in upcoming posts.

Please feel free to act as a critical friend and send along insight/critique of anything you see above.

To follow this project, sign up for my newsletter to stay on top of everything and sign up for early peeks to courses.

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Also published on Medium.

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