Revisiting the Distracted Mind

Distracted Mind
As both an online student and an instructional designer, I find myself thinking about attention spans often. Last year, I wrote a post here about harnessing the distracted mind, in which I offered tools and methods for staying focused, even when hilarious YouTube videos or brilliant longreads are just one browser tab away. What I’ve come to realize over the past year is that distraction is never going to be something we can just “fix” with a simple productivity method or even a research-backed app. Don’t get me wrong – those can help. But computers, and the evolving ways in which we use them, will always create behavioral challenges for us. For example, take multitasking. Lately, the term “multitasking” has…

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A Framework for Information Literacy

Information Literacy
I recently wrote about how information fluency is hoped to bolster our ability to recognize and defuse the phenomena known as fake news. It’s supposed to do so by providing the information fluent with the means to “respect the expertise that authority represents while remaining skeptical of the systems that have elevated that authority and the information created by it.” That quote is taken from the “Authority is Constructed and Contextual” Frame of the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which is two years old at this point and which, bizarrely and/or frighteningly, I hadn’t heard of until just a couple weeks ago. The meeting point for both articles linked above…

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The Different Hats of Course Development: SMEs and IDs

Different Hats of Course Development
Many factors result in new curriculum development processes in educational institutions. To name a few: Stricter regulations and legislation require institutions to exercise and document the effectiveness of the education they offer in different ways than in the past. The rise in online education and data analytics trends require that student learning outcomes are more concrete and measurable. Many institutions are moving from employing full-time faculty to a mostly adjunct faculty to lower labor costs and improve faculty to student ratios, among other reasons. As a result, in online education especially, there is movement towards pairing a Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with Instructional Designers (IDs) to develop courses. This collaboration hopefully results in courses robust in engaging content and interactive…

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Coordinating with SASC for Student Success

Webinar Series
Henri Moser, the Online Learning Specialist, and Lori Rand, the Online Writing Specialist, joined us from the Online Student Academic Success Center (SASC) to talk about how faculty and staff can best coordinate with them to foster student success in online courses. They covered a whole lot, from when best to connect students with their services to how SASC can lend their unique perspective to the design of the learning activities themselves. Thanks to Henri and Lori for the work they put in on this excellent, informative webinar.

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Tips for Strengthening Your Course Narrative

Course Narrative
A good story generally contains the following elements: Protagonist: The hero (or anti-hero) of the narrative. Central premise: The argument or thesis of the story. Backstory: The context of the story. Conflict: The challenges faced by the protagonist. Narrative arc: The chronological movement of the story. Should any of these be missing, readers will find the story lacking, though they may not be able to say why. The same thing holds true for courses. A course is also a type of story. The narrative unfolds through readings, assignments, lectures, and other materials. And as with a story, a course will seem inadequate should major narrative elements be missing. More often than not, the effects of badly designed courses and badly…

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