Thursday, May 10, 2007

Starting at the Beginning

The intention of this blog is to document the creation of an online class for BGSU's General Studies Writing Program. I'm using this blog as a reflection on how I set up the course and then how the course works during its pilot session this coming Fall Semester 2006. The online class is being developed on Blackboard, a university sponsored internet program that allows students to check their personal information at the university as well as course information, such as announcements, course documents, etc.

For starters, I sought help from IDEAL, a team who aids faculty in creating successful online classes, at BGSU. My first meeting with IDEAL staff member Terrence Armentano was Wednesday, May 9. During this meeting we collaborated on an effective key for the ENG 111 online course as well as ideas for how to conduct lectures (powerpoints, wikis, or blog with abilities for podcasting), keep track of passing/no passing grades, and collect rough and final drafts.

At this meeting, I chose to lecture through a blog on WordPress that is sponsored by IDEAL. I was attracted to the possibility of being able to post just text or text and a video clip, or post a podcast for students to listen to. Additionally, students will be able to leave comments on the blog, so they will be able to participate during lectures. Finally, having a blog for lectures will show students that blogs can be used for educational purposes, and it will be a nice tie back to the students each creating blogs for reflection on the material being taught.

Also, I decided to keep a grade book, but instead of having points for the work completed, online students will receive "complete" or "incomplete" grades, which translate well with GSW's ENG 111 grading system, which is "pass" or "no pass." I will ask students to email me their rough drafts to my gmail account, and I'm using the Blackboard feature "Assignments" to collect the final essays. The grade book in Blackboard allows me to comment on grades, and in the comment boxes I will post the end comments on final drafts with the grade. (Grades cannot be seen by the whole class, only the individual student who is logged into his/her personal account.) Complete will equal Pass, and Incomplete will equal Almost Pass or No Pass. This code will be explained in the Achievement Requirements, the document that explains the course and my expectations as the course's instructor.

I divided each week into several activities that online students will complete. These activities are very similar to the ones in my face-to-face (f2f) classes. Each week online students will have lectures to review, readings relevant to the material being taught in the lectures, discussion questions to answer on the Discussion Board, blog postings of their reflections regarding the material of the week, and other exercises to help them develop their argumentative writing skills. At the beginning of each week, I am going to write a short note of how the students should proceed. This note also will include any important due dates for the rough drafts, final drafts, or Library Assignment.

Starting tonight I'm going to begin to fill in the skeleton of the class with assignments and readings and discussion questions. My plan is to work on each week one at time. This evening, then, I will be working on Week 1. In future posts I will document how much time it takes me to create one week's worth of course work.

Please feel free to leave any comments with questions or ideas that can help me during this creation process.

My goal is to post regularly to this blog regarding the creation process in order to effectively document the creation and execution of an ENG 111 online class.

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