Over the past year I’ve taken classes towards a certificate in eLearning and Online Teaching. The most interesting thing has been seeing different approaches to being an online teacher – each of my teachers has had different interaction techniques, different ways of posting and making the material available, different rubrics for in-class discussion and (obviously) different strengths. Sometimes the class didn’t meet my expectations, sometimes it exceeded it.
Here’s the thing that puzzled me the most: in two classes that were not about instructional design, we were asked to create a module and essentially do instructional design. And for each of those classes, we were asked to essentially make every part adhere to what Bloom’s Taxonomy refers to as Higher Order Thinking Skills. The problem for me was twofold, one of which I’ll talk about later in this post, and this one: Lower Order Thinking Skills, like reading and writing and absorbing material were being devalued. In order for any student to really apply HOTS, they need to use LOTS first. I’ve seen students struggle with analyzing and synthesizing material while doing research because they don’t have time to completely understand the material. This is part of what the Common Core is expected to correct, that we’ll be graduating students who have plenty of HOTS and can apply them in any situation. Not so sure this is going to be the case, because in our rush to implement, we’re neglecting LOTS. And that the design of a module should solely focus on the HOTS? Problematic.
The other problem I have have is that if the class is about assessment, then what we should have focused on in designing a module was the assessment piece: why weren’t we concentrating on rubrics? modeling a good final product? authentic assessment over recitation of facts and quizzes? self-assessment for both teacher and student? why chose one form of assessment over another? etc.. And if the class is on communication/collaboration, then let’s spend our time working on how to, within a created unit, pose leading questions and direct the conversation, what the best collaborative tools for that module are and why (and why other tools won’t/don’t work for that module), etc.. That’s not to say we didn’t cover some of those, but on those two courses creating modules that emphasized HOTS made me think about how confused students must be when we focus on something that seems irrelevant but is perhaps mandated by the state, district or department chair.
My big takeaways were to encourage teachers to include time for absorbing the material and applying it, and to create assignments/assessments that make sense in the context of the class.