Designing an online content management system (OCM) can seem like a daunting task when you’re in the brainstorming phase. When I was first brainstorming what I wanted to put on my OCM to help my students stay engaged and progress through the material I felt like Neo from the Matrix. If you haven’t seen the Matrix then you might not know this feeling, but it is like a waterfall of lifelong learning pouring directly into your brain. This may be a little dramatic, but it is truly how it felt. I first had to decide what course management system that I wanted to use. I have been a Google for Education user for a long time now, so I considered using Google Classroom. I am currently using Haiku learning with my teaching partner and thought that it would be easy just to stick with what I am used to on a daily basis. After comparing the two different course management systems I decided to go with Haiku Learning because I use it everyday and because it was much more customizable. I wanted to create content for my course and embed resources from other sites and Haiku Learning allowed me to do that very seamlessly. Once I decided that I was going to stick with Haiku Learning I needed to think about how I want to use the course. In my everyday teaching I use Haiku Learning as a place to upload documents that students use in classroom lessons. I also use it as a place for students to turn in assignments to get their grades and feedback. During my CEP 820 course on Teaching Students Online I learned that an OCM can be a place that introduces students to new ideas and concepts as well as a place that helps students build on the knowledge that they gain in the classroom. I wanted my OCM to be a hybrid course that would assist students in a Project Based Learning Unit (PBL) that we will be doing before our class goes on a trip to Washington D.C. The hybrid course was designed to be a place that students would visit daily to engage in synchronous and asynchronous communication. The synchronous communication would mostly be done in the classroom when students were face-to-face and the asynchronous would be done on the OCM in class discussions or groups assignments.
The idea of creating a synchronous and asynchronous environment for my students to collaborate in was a driving force in creating this hybrid course. Creating the course to house the “meat” of the Project Based Learning unit was intended to allow students to see how the unit would progress overtime as well as provide students with all resources that they would need to complete the project effectively. Another driving force for my OCM was having the ability to adapt it on the fly. During the my CEP 820 course I learned how to use the Universal Design for Learning guidelines to assist students at all levels. Having a course that was adaptable allowed me to create sections for students who were working on different parts of the project or needed different resources. By studying the Universal Design for Learning guidelines I decided that I would also include resources that students could use to create a digital KWL chart to support them in visualizing what they already know and what information that need to learn to support them in the PBL unit.
As a new course designer and one that wants to continue developing content that is designed for all learners I want to give fellow and future course designers a bit of advice. One piece of advice that I have for current and future course designers is to find someone that can be a “test student”. I believe that my design process went as smoothly as it did because I would bounce my ideas off of my teaching partner. Sometimes as the designer you see the information the way you perceive it to be and it flows the way it did when you planned it in your head, however it may not come across that way to your students. Another piece of advice is to try and recreate the teacher in the online course just as the students see in the classroom. Students need to know that the teacher they interact with on a daily basis at school is the same teacher that they will interact with in the online course. If you tell jokes in class then tell jokes on your course. If you share memes at the beginning of the week to engage students then post memes online to engage the students. The power of presence goes a long way in the classroom and it will also go a long way in your online course. Be true to yourself as a teacher and have fun designing a course for your students.