What Courses Would YOU Redesign for Online Learners?

Every course at Odessa College has an online presence, even if nothing more than the course syllabus and grade book. Most of the courses we offer span 8 week terms, so hybrid/blended formats are very common. But I believe we fall short in preparing our online learners with higher mathematics classes, physics, and engineering. Of course we also have a significant number of Career Tech/Workforce Education courses that are offered as face-to-face courses, requiring hands on experiential learning.

I would personally love to see our higher mathematics courses delivered in an online format; we have many students pursuing some form of engineering in this area. Many of these individuals work full-time jobs in the petroleum industry, and need opportunities that are deliverable online.  Through a partnership with Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) we are able to provide our learners with opportunities to take courses offered through other Texas Community Colleges as part of a collaborative effort called Virtual Colleges of Texas, or VCT. Most of the requests we receive from students to take courses through VCT are for Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, or Differential Equations. None of these courses are currently offered in an online format at Odessa College. And though in order for the students to be able to take the courses from another college for Odessa College credit the instructor must meet the same criteria of Master’s Degree with a minimum of 18 graduate hours in pure mathematics; the course must contain the same level of rigour that our courses contain, and must include a comprehensive final exam. When students from our institution request the opportunity to take one of these courses, we verify that the student has the appropriate prerequisites in place. But even with these measures in place, our student success rate in these courses is only about 60%.

Yes… there’s hope. One of our higher mathematics instructors is working closely with us to develop materials and learning experiences for these courses, to increase their online footprint. It’s a start.

So with magic want in hand, I would definitely say that I would develop online courses for:

  • MATH 2413 – Calculus I
  • MATH 2414 – Calculus II
  • MATH 2415 – Calculus III
  • MATH 2320 – Differential Equations

I don’t have much control over those courses. But I am really happy to know that one of the instructors is thinking of ways to deliver them online, and I am thrilled to assist him in any way I can.

For the courses that I do have some level of control over…. well, the credit level course that I teach is constantly evolving. I am working closely with the other two instructors of the course to create content that will eliminate the need for the courseware we currently use… courseware that is so costly that it’s prohibitive to many of the learners. I am working to develop simulations through Adobe Captivate that will accompany the open resources we have found that will provide reading material for our learners.

For the professional development opportunities for faculty, I am working with our Division of Teaching and Learning. When the Teaching and Learning Team provides a face-to-face development experience for our faculty, I work with them to develop an online component that is available to our faculty that could not attend the session, especially our remote adjunct faculty. In addition to having the development activity available online, I am creating experiences that they can emulate in their own courses, helping them to see how they can convert learning activities to something that can be presented in an online format.

I am passionate about providing support for our faculty. Passionate about developing online learning experiences. And passionate about ensuring that our faculty and our learners have exceptional experiences online. Learners should never experience feelings of isolation just because of the modality of the course they are taking.

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What’s so important about instructional design?

As our institution moves more toward a culture of open pedagogy, I have seen a significant need for our faculty to receive more training and development in instructional design. Our faculty are exceptional as content matter experts, but they may not know how to effectively design a course around those open materials, in a way that is logical for their learners. We are trying to provide our learners with a more cost effective solution to higher education, but our instructors really need some guidance in developing the design skills. What we have seen with our venture into the use of open education resources, is that the content must be organised in a modular way so that the learners have that added layer of structure – the reading material and open resources organised with the assessments that measure learner progress toward learning outcomes.