This blog post is about eLearning and Blended learning in Ontario using D2L. If none of that applies to you, well, you might as well read something else. 🙂

This post is in response to some ideas put forth by my colleague, Brandon Grasley, on his blog. That post can be found here. http://bgrasley.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/thinking-about-course-design-in-e-learning-and-blended-learning/

Brandon wants to rescue eLearning courses from the strangle-hold that the html content page has on them, and I support him. He suggests using a content module like a folder, or maybe a basket, to contain all the necessary work, and not rely on links to tools such as dropboxes from within the content html page. What needs to be done becomes a little more obvious to the student. ‘Do everything in this basket.’ This would also reduce the dreadful flipping back and forth between the “Content” and “Assignment” links.

My addition:

In addition to Brandon’s proposal, I’d like to add that the quiz and discussion tools can be used to deliver the learning as much as they can be used for assessment. They can be used for both consumption and production.

The current model, as Brandon pointed out, involves students clicking the “Content” area, where they passively read, watch or listen to whatever material is there. Afterwhich, the students then click on the Assignment link and do whatever is required of them there. I believe many students, however, skip the content altogether and see if they can do the assignment without reading the content. In many cases, it is possible.

Here’s my suggestion: The content and the assignment can be merged to make an active, learning activity, rather than use a consume-then-produce model.

For instance, the quiz tool does not have to be used for quizzes. It is a system where input from students can be recorded, but the tool is actually quite robust for delivering content itself as well. A ‘quiz’ could be designed as a whole learning activity, unconnected to a separate Content page.

In this scenario, a student starts the quiz to begin the lesson. Inside the quiz, they will find readings, videos, slideshows, audio clips, images, links, whatever is necessary, and a response from the student can be solicited right away for each item as they journey through the material. They can instantly respond to the content they’ve learned while they are learning it.

quiz capture

By the end, the student has read all the content (since it’s difficult to skip it in this method), they’ve reflected on the material, they’ve learned about the content in a variety multimedia methods, they’ve demonstrated knowledge and understanding of it, and they’ve been asked to apply it to their own lives – all within a “quiz.” Afterwards, the teacher has a strong understanding of the student’s grasp of the material. Moreover, the student has demonstrated and engaged with more of the expectations than the traditional model.

In my own experience while taking AQ courses when life is busy, I don’t necessarily read everything closely. (Terrible, I know). It’s all business; if some content isn’t related to the assignment, I skip it. So do our students. I think this quiz-activity method guides the student through the learning and makes it necessary for them to think about the material and respond to it. I would have liked it in my AQs.

The quiz-activity concept is probably best used as formative assessment and learning task, rather than as a summative assignment. The student will still need to complete some sort of more traditional rich summative assignment at the end which demonstrates their learning.

One problem I fear with this method, is that it makes it difficult to return to the content material after the activity has been completed. This would make it necessary to still have a content area that works more as a reference library that contains all of the information and materials that were used inside quizzes.

I’d like to start experimenting with this model more myself. Students that I’ve taught so far have appreciated the quiz tool since it’s very clear what they need to do and it’s a guided process as they click ‘next’ through the assignment. I suspect they will actually enjoy being forced through the content in these learning activities. It gets them actively doing something while they are learning.

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