Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Irreducible Bits

With a new CMS provider officially in place, the U. is open throttle prepping online instructors to teach in the eCollege platform. I helped critique the instructor training course over the weekend; the self-paced course was released yesterday. Estimated time of completion: 1-3 hours.  Current instructors must pass the summative assessment at the end of the course with an 80% score.  I don't have immediate plans to teach in the eCollege system, although I might pick up one course this summer before the move to NY in mid-July.  I'll continue to shoulder responsibility for the FY sequence as their developer, but my faith in the whole arrangement remains in an awkward, delicate balance.  I'm concerned by some of the outcomes-oriented initiatives freshly blanketing the curriculum--without sensitivity to disciplinary difference--as the programs brace for a fall accreditation visit.  Late-semester fatigue has me preferring a brief entry here tonight, and it's better if I don't go too far with the deep angst I feel about a few messages in the self-paced instructor training program.  For fun, here's one chunk of the instructor training course that, well, I'm sure you can guess what I think of the view that chunking enhances online content.  Granted, design affects the ways we read words and images on the screen.  The stuff about short paragraphs, bulleted lists and an abundance of headings...*sigh*. I passed the "summative assessment."

Strategies for "chunking" content: 

  • Strive to keep Online paragraphs between two and four sentences long. Block paragraphs, like the ones illustrated on this page, maximize white space, providing a visual cue of how you have chunked the information. 
  • Differentiate discussion from illustration by shifting format (for instance, from paragraphs to a bulleted list). 
  • Use headings to signal new chunks of information--and their relationship to one another--and to help the user navigate the page.

Thirty or so of the questions at the end were T/F like this:

6. In a threaded discussion, controversial topics or assigning students to argue one side of an issue may be used to engage learners. (Points: 1)

And the others were the loose accumulation kind, as in, check all that apply.

Which of the following are phrases from the U.'s mission statement.  (Check all that apply.)

Bookmark and Share Posted by at April 28, 2004 10:11 PM to Distances,Slouching Toward