Terry O. Faulkner

Creative Content Expert | Wordsmith

Blendkit2016; Reading Reaction: Quality Assurance

2000px-PDCA_Cycle.svg.pngThis week I will answer two questions most pertinent to the course I am currently designing:

  • How will you know whether your blended learning course is sound prior to teaching it and with which of your trusted colleagues might you discuss effective teaching of blended learning courses?

The first question is really a reflective, introspective question that most designers would answer in a way similar to “Of course, it’ll be sound, I’ve put my effort and care into it, how could it not be sound?” Standards are arguably the best way to gauge whether one’s course is sound and if it actually does what it set out to do. Herein lies the problem; most of the research about defining standards says that there are no real standards yet. Yes there are generic standards that might suggest that a course is good or not but it is a challenge in a field that is so new and still growing to have such clearly defined standards neatly set in place.

Although there are a few universities with guidelines as to what defines minimum acceptability, these guidelines are painted with such broad strokes that they need to be articulated for them to work for any particular course. The standards for a course like sexual harassment training will differ tremendously for a course built around math concepts.

The article highlights three challenges to setting standards for courses along a broad spectrum. One that there is no governing body to address all the standards for each and every course on offer, two is that creating tools to assess and manage course standards would be difficult if such a governing body did exist and three it would be time-consuming to apply this tool to all the courses in a particular institution or system.

As far as colleagues are concerned, that’s an easy one. My friend and colleague Martin Tuttle and I have been working together now on similar projects for a couple months and we’re both heading in similar career directions so it has been good to have someone with whom I can share ideas and get good, critical advice.

Blendkit2016: Reading Reaction 4

This week I will answer two questions as part of the reading reaction for week four in the Blendkit2016 MOOC.

  • How will you present content to students in the blended learning course you are designing? Will students encounter content only in one modality (e.g., face-to-face only), or will you devise an approach in which content is introduced in one modality and elaborated upon in the other? What will this look like?

The Sexual Harassment Compliance Training (SHCT) will be presented in two modalities. The first will be held synchronously through a live face-to-face seminar with the SME Ms. Moon, who is head of the Gender Equality Department here at Yeungnam University in South Korea. The face-to-face modality will occur at the end of the Spring Semester and will require one hour of our learners’ time. We will introduce key concepts and host a Q&A for participants who wish to learn more. There will also be an online asynchronous portion of the course where learners can log on and complete the training at a time that best suits them.

  • Will there be a consistent pattern to the presentation of content and how can you ensure that students experience your course as one consistent whole rather than as two loosely connected learning environments?

There will be consistency with regards to how content, learning activities and submissions will be presented. As Dee Fink suggested in his Learning Activities for Active Holistic Active Learning Chart (2003), the content we provide will be from primary data and sources. As far as online learning goes, it will be available through the university’s LMS and students will be able to engage in indirect experiences through varied “what would you do?” scenarios.

Learning_activities1.JPGSource: Significant Learning Experience by Dee L. Fink (2003)  

I think the biggest challenge for the SHCT course and highlighted throughout the article is ensuring that content from the online and the face-to-face portions are well-integrated. It would be ideal to present the online course first and then hold the seminar so that learners would know what to expect. We are considering creating a survey for participants to ask them what specifics they would like to know more about before the face-to-face seminar.

Finally, using Laurillard’s Conversation Model, we will use “Adaptive” activity types where the learners must make decisions in non-static environments as well as “Experiential” activities where they will practice, apply and explore situations and/or harassment scenarios that require real-world solutions. Overall, we hope to blend the two modalities seamlessly but that also requires some technological proficiency and much of the modern software tools used in our field have steep learning curves. Those challenges notwithstanding,  I am optimistic that we can create a memorable and well-integrated course for our learners.


A day early but nine years too late

Nine years ago I was lucky enough to have met an amazing woman and able to call her my girlfriend (my wife now), unaware of the importance of White Day in South Korea. Yes it’s a hallmark holiday much like Valentine’s but this was our first White Day as a couple. I didn’t realize that I had scheduled an emergency visa run to Japan because I had outstayed my visa here already when I was in India the month before (more on that in another post I promise).

She never says it but she felt disappointed a) that I didn’t realize the importance and b) that we wouldn’t be able to spend it together. This year I’m surprising her with freesias (her favorite flowers, see photo above) and matching phone cases with our family portrait on them. One of Soonim’s best friends Hye-Jung was able to help me order the cases (see below) and I really hope that the flowers and the cases make up for that lost White Day back in 2007.

Soonim if you’re reading this, I love you dearly and hope that you had fun in Changwon!IMG_6076.JPG

Blendkit2016: Reading reaction Week Three

In response the #Blendkit2016 course week three concerning assessments. I’m going to focus on questions raised from the reading most importantly:

  • How well does your course make connections between learning objectives and course activities, and how do you implement formal and informal assessments of learning into your blended learning course? Do these all take place face-to-face, online, or in a combination?

In my courses whether they are strictly face-to-face or blended are usually introduced by telling the students what they should expect form the course and the usefulness of the content that they can either take with them or ignore.  Most students in South Korean universities are taking English because it is a required course. By the time they reach my classroom most are burnt out from the previous twelve years of intensive English from both school and from after-school academies all in preparation for the holy grail of entrance exams, the Suneung 

Learning objectives are some of the first concepts introduced and are constantly reinforced either by formative assessments or by assignments. Each module has a grammar target, vocabulary relevant to the topics and a list of abilities that the student should be able to perform after each chapter. Bloom’s taxonomy is generally the best choice for creating attainable learning targets and the online portion of the course addresses the learning targets from each module.

The summative section of the course comes in the form of two face-to-face spoken exams with me either with a partner or a group as well as two written exams given for both midterm exams and finals. The spoken section allows the student to choose from a battery of questions (of varying complexity) and a test blueprint (rubric) from which students know exactly what is expected. The written exam is a test created by all the professors on staff and includes a multiple choice, listening, short-answer and essay question section. While I can create online quizzes (I do), we are given a very small portion of percentage to which we can assign points whereas the midterm and final exam sections account for 70 percent of the final grade which leaves a very small portion for attendance and participation (under which all online content falls).

My Korean students are pretty tech-savvy and had very little difficulty logging in and adding content and participating. There is along way to go before Korean universities will begin running more blended courses as my course is a voluntary application of the blended model.

Myths of learning styles and others revealed

I have been exploring Instructional Design now for almost a year. One of the first designers to catch my eye was Cathy Moore who rocked my world when she suggested learning styles were fake. As many of you may know now, I too have become a critic of the myth of learning styles and a lot of the neuroscience that some teachers buy into. I wanted to share an article with you that I found via a podcast entitled “Trends & Issues in Instructional Design” with Dr. Brown and Dr. Green. I hope that it brings some interesting talking points and that it helps you question some beliefs you may hold about the brain.


Mixmap: Elements of Blended Learning

This is a mix-map which is used to inform the instructor about decisions in what will happen in face-to-face interactions (classroom) and online. It’s a bit like a storyboard and helps illustrate what will happen and how the forms of instruction will complement each other. This is for #Blendkit2016IMG_6064

Meeting Three (2/29/2016): Orientation Seminar

The following is a letter written to our SME (Ms. Moon) and it serves two purposes. One is to inform Ms. Moon about our perceptions of a training given to foreign exchange students studying at the university and second is to keep record of our steps in the sexual harassment design process:

Dear Professor Moon,

“As requested we have reviewed the powerpoint and our notes on the sexual harassment presentation given to the international students last Monday February, 29th. First of all, we realize that it was very challenging to speak to that kind of audience, especially regarding sexual harassment. Here are a few of the comments and suggestions that Martin and I have regarding the content and delivery of this presentation.

The section began with “stretching” and we found that some of the students did not see the connection between stretching and how that might lead to sexual harassment and/or sexual violence. We felt that the section where the speaker asked questions and the audience was invited to answer the question was a more engaging introduction.

We also found that some of the students at the back of the auditorium were not as engaged as the learners might have been sitting closer to the front. Another comment is that some of the English may have been too complex for some of the foreign students. Many of these students are speaking English as their third or even fourth language so not all of them have a good command of the English language, Additionally, the complexity of the translator’s English often seemed above the listeners’ abilities.

On several occasions there seemed to be a gap between the Korean speaker and what the translator uttered. In one example the translator said “entertain us…” and upon hearing that, Professor Moon seemed as though the translation was not what she was expecting to hear.

Another question we had was regarding the the study by Lin Farley (Farley, Lin. Sexual shakedown: The sexual harassment of women on the job. McGraw-Hill Companies, 1978).  How did they affect the laws of sexual harassment in Korea? Is that important to the learners? We liked the explanation of types of sexual harassment and how to deal with harassment if one is either the victim or the offender.  The steps were good but then when the video “Keep your paws to yourself” came up on the screen, the audience could not see it very well and the language used was full of slang and various American vernacular. I would find it VERY difficult to understand much of the video if I were not a native speaker myself.

Lastly, the Jefferson memorial took a long time to get to the point and when it finally did, the connection between the memorial and sexual harassment was vague. Could we shorten this connection or perhaps make it more evident?

Overall, we enjoyed the presentation and were able to take away a lot from it. I hope this helps Professor Moon and we will keep you updated as we progress throughout the project. Thank you and have a great weekend. Terry & Martin ”

That wraps up this section, check in at Martin’s blog for the next post!

Reading Reaction 2 (March 3, 2016)

In this reading, I really felt like each of the four models had something that appealed to my style of teaching and therefore immediately became relevant to what I do. Letting students be their own learners or to let them construct their own learning empowers them and moves further away from the teacher-centered classroom. Whether I am a curator, administrator or custodian, I am not the only person with power and act instead as a guide.

This article also spoke to me because I am an ESL/EFL teacher and my entire teaching career has been directed at students who do not speak English as their first language and this is where asynchronous activities come in handy. It allows more thought and time to get the instructions or to complete activities and I agree that student confidence is boosted with enough time and effort.

On the other hand, if my classes were entirely online, perhaps students would feel disconnected if they never met me or sat down and spoke with their classmates. The classes I currently teach are mostly face to face it does as the article states, provides a sense of community in the classroom.