Kim Heintz teaches e-learning course design and authoring at Roosevelt. She also is a Technical Writer & Instructional Designer for Follett School Solutions.
In the Training and Development department at Roosevelt University, we faced the dilemma of the “chicken or the egg?” when it came to sequencing two courses, E-Learning Course Design and E-Learning Course Authoring. No matter which course we placed first, students had to work hard to bridge the knowledge gap from other class in order to be successful.
Initailly, we placed the design course first in the sequence—the natural choice, as it is first in the e-learning course creation process. Students were challenged to see what the final product could look like because they had no experience with any authoring tool and did not know what it could and could not do. Through evidence-based principles and concrete examples, they were able to walk away having created an impressive detailed design. However, it did come with some additional work to bridge the knowledge gap, and a common theme we heard when students got to the E-Learning Course Authoring course was that they wish they had known more about how Captivate worked when writing their design.
This gave us the idea to place the authoring course first in the sequence to give students baseline knowledge to draw from when it came time to design. This sequence did give them that information, but, when it came time to create a final project at the end of the semester that included elements of design, they had to work hard to create a design to build out in the authoring tool.
8 Week Opportunity
With Roosevelt moving to the new 8-week schedule from the former 12-week one at the start of Fall 2014, we used this opportunity to address this dilemma. Based on student feedback and our own experiences with design and development, we decided to weave these two courses together so that students learn design and development simultaneously. As a result, these two courses now build on each other in a “Part 1” and “Part 2” fashion in what is now the series TRDV439: E-Learning Course Authoring-1 and TRDV453: E-Learning Course Authoring-2.
In this new design, students are introduced to design and development each week, giving them a chance to become familiar and comfortable with each through readings, lectures, and practice exercises. They also have the chance to apply what they learn to concrete assignments.
The capstone project of the series begins early in the first course and follows the students through the end of the second. With this project, they design and develop a topic of their choosing and end up with four deliverables to showcase the progression:
Solution: Combine the Chicken and the Egg
Because they learn design and development each week, students continue to refine their deliverables as they continue to work toward their detailed designed and developed lesson. They also collaborate in peer review of each other’s work, which provides additional perspective to their assignments beyond the instructors. Peer review provides two-way benefit in that the students who are reviewing the work also have the chance to be inspired for their own work.
Much like what we had in the original course designs, structured and open forums exist and are encouraged for students to collaborate, share frustrations, ask for help, share “ah-ha” moments, post lessons learned, post general information/articles, and more. These work much like any online forum such those on the Adobe Communities or in LinkedIn groups; the one added benefit in these forums is that everyone has similar experiences at the same time.
In addition to the four projects included in the capstone, students also create three additional projects in Adobe Captivate as they learn the authoring tool. They do this by completing workbook exercises, working through the details of a pre-designed storyboard, and following step-by-step instructions.
With one semester now completed, it seems that our “chicken or the egg?” dilemma has now successfully been solved! Students were able to connect the design with the development because they had the ability to get into the tool and experiment. They were able to connect the development with the design through the guiding principles and instructional design standards.
The students who completed the Fall 2014 term were huge supporters of one another and the work that they did, and the student output was incredibly impressive!
In a future post, we’ll have three students share their initial concerns or impressions going into these courses, their experiences, and what their end result was.
Now, we want to hear from you. What questions do you have about these courses or the E-Learning Graduate Credential at Roosevelt? What about self-paced e-learning in general?
Contact our Program Coordinator, Tara Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org, to register for these classes for the Fall Term.