This entire holiday season has had me absolutely giddy. If you’re lucky, you had the chance to follow my series of holiday infographics two weeks ago. Those are a good indicator of how obsessed I am with the holiday season. Capping off the end of an excellent year and an even better fall semester, the past few weeks have given me time to reflect and recharge.
This year, I’m celebrating my own mini-holiday. Right now, I’m sitting on my bed with only a hot cup of coffee and my laptop (Okay, okay. I also have The Real Housewives of Orange County on as background noise, but this is my blog post, so you can’t judge me.) My laptop and I are having a small party of two, celebrating online learning together. The WSU English Department has given me another opportunity to design and teach a course for them. This time, I’ll be instructing ENGL 230: Exploring Literature. This is a course I taught face-to-face in the Spring of 2015, so I already have experience teaching it in one form.
As I design, one of my biggest concerns is parity. ENGL 230 is a discussion-based course. This past spring, I designed my face-to-face class meetings to mirror a casual book club. This encouraged my students to relax and share their thoughts. While there were high-stakes assignments sprinkled throughout the course content (mid-term, final, presentations, papers, etc.), I wanted my students to approach literature confidently and comfortably. Now, I especially want this experience for my online students.
Like my face-to-face course, ENGL 230 Online will also be primarily discussion-based. However, this semester, I’m going to have my students take the lead. Rather than require them to answer certain questions about a text, I’m going to give them options and allow them to answer different threads that interest them most. It’s a tip I’ve taken from both Carolyn and John, and I’m excited to try it out myself. I’ll also continue to have my online students journal. Since 99.9% of this course requires lengthy, written responses, I want them to get comfortable writing as soon as possible. These will most likely be informal, low-stakes grades, but I’m still adjusting this assignment to meet the course needs. I’m eager to hear any suggestions for course content, so let me know if you have any ideas!
I’m still early in my design process, but already, I can feel the excitement I’ll have for this course brewing inside me. This is where my celebration of online learning begins. I probably look like a crazed, maniacal scientist bent over my computer with a huge smile plastered across my face, but my creation is starting to take shape. This uncontrollable excitement feels justified. For me, there is no better feeling than designing a course that will engage students. Taking design lessons I’ve learned from my Fall 2015 semester of design and my incredibly knowledgeable peers, this design party is off to a most excellent start.
If you need me, I’ll be locked in my room partying. Enjoy the rest of your break, I know I’ll be enjoying mine.