By Caitriona Ni She, #Openteach learning designer
My first encounter with the #openteach course was well over a year ago when I was interviewed for, and subsequently offered, the job of the learning designer for the project. My first task was to carry out a literature review of online teaching with the aim of finding out the roles, skills and competencies of online educators and how best to support them with PD opportunities. This culminated in the publication of our report, as outlined in Reflections on #openteach:a blog series. A key message that stood out was the need to provide situated professional development, i.e. allowing online educators experience what it is like to be an online student.
The next task was to design the course, and with the help of the ABC to VLE team in DCU, we managed to sketch out the course in a matter of hours! One of my favourite parts of the subsequent work was using the five principles of design thinking to flesh out the course. Empathy maps were used to create personas of the DCU online educators. These personas subsequently became characters in the scenarios for the course. The first of these scenarios was piloted at the Teaching Online is Different seminar last January, using Eimear as our online educator.
Following feedback from online educators, we made tweeks and revisions to the course design. After the design phase, the course was developed on the DCU loop platform using moodle books. Creating videos, developing activities and searching for images was all part of the process of developing the course.
However, the result was somewhat disappointing . The course lacked interaction and engagement, so it was redeveloped using H5P. The redevelopment resulted in a more intuitive and interactive environment.
The course was completed just in time for the arrival of the Covid 19 virus, which meant we had many more participants than originally planned. This increased the workload on the #Openteach team, nevertheless, every student was listened to, and received a response, in the forums and class interactions.
For me the crux came at the end. How would the online groups work?
Setting up the pedagogy and technology to support this interaction was a challenge that was rewarded with the participation of four groups who solved Áine’s dilemma through role play.
For me, watching the students acting out the conversation between the disgruntled student Conor and the apprehensive, but competent, online educator Áine, was the highlight of the course. All groups managed to work as a team, record the role play and critically discuss the pros and cons of the steps taken by Áine. Surprisingly some of the ‘poachers turned gamekeepers’ robustly acted out the role of the disgruntled student Conor
The #openteach project was hard work, entertaining and rewarding. Well done to everyone involved.