The design decisions within this course changed several times. When I first began working on my online course, I was under the impression of just throwing everything up there and letting the kids will figure it out. However, I after reading through various lectures and completing lab activities, I soon realized that organization was key to producing a successful online class. I also reflected back on my own experiences with online courses as well as how I send and receive materials to my current students. I feel that I’ve also thought about things I would change about some of the systems that I use (mainly Edmodo and D2L) on a daily basis. When it came time to choosing our Course Management System (CMS) I knew there were several aspects of design that were important to me: organization of information (tabs as oppose to blog type style where information piles on top of itself), an easy way to keep track of due dates, ways to communicate, etc. As a teacher in a typical classroom, these almost come naturally–but when creating your course in an online setting you really have to think about how your “classroom” will run. Similarly, the style of teaching has to change with an online course. When I first started my teaching career I told myself I could never teach online…how do you even form relationships with the students? Let alone actually teach them anything? Well, I actually have already transitioned into implementing flipped learning into my current classes, so a portion of my instruction is done outside the classroom walls. With an online (or in my case, a hybrid course) course more of the lesson (if not all) may occur without me physically with the students. Now, having completed CEP 820, I feel so differently about online teaching–that there are ways to manage your students, create a sense of community, and still monitor your students’ growth.
While I really learned so much about teaching online, there were some pitfalls along the way with my online course. First, I did not realize how much work goes into creating just a few lessons. Even though I had taught these lessons many times, changing the activities so they fit with an online course was somewhat of a challenge. Especially with science–so much of the activities in science are hands on. Making my online course a hybrid course solved this issue pretty easily though, the students are able to learn the material during the online part of the class, then still participate in experimentation in the face-to-face aspect. Another pitfall I ran into was not finding the “perfect” CMS. While I REALLY appreciated the comparison activity we used to compare and contrast different management systems, I still found things I would want to change in CourseSites even though this CMS came out on top. And, truth be told, there is never going to be a CMS that is perfect for every teacher–though I feel like if I were to design one, it’d be very popular amongst teachers!