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POT Cert Week 3: a ‘clean’ approach to course design

Course Design

Ko and Rossen’s emphasis in Chapter 3: Course Design and Development seems to fall heavily on that of  ‘course conversion’. They say, “teaching exclusively online, [..] involves recasting your entire class in an online shape” (p.46). Well, I’m not “recasting”, I’m hoping to design a class from scratch that’s to be delivered online. I’m planning therefore to take what I’d call a ‘clean’ approach, this way I anticipate truly discovering the “opportunities afforded by the new online environment” (p.12).

You know, I think I’m going to really keep this idea of  ‘clean’ in mind as I develop my online learning space. Because, (picking up on Todd’s tutorial about constraints of the physical classroom) in order to manage resources and execute effective facilitation of learning, I think it’s really important to keep an uncluttered ‘classroom’, free from old handouts, out dated posters or notices and unnecessary furniture or equipment etc. It not only helps get the job done, but what’s more it sends out the message that you care and that you’re on top of your game.

My guiding force, pedagogical goals and objectives

Within the Where the Hell Do I Start?” tutorial, I found the idea of  identifying a guiding force for the course very helpful, especially as I’m starting from scratch and don’t really a have a syllabus. Consequently, I’ve chosen a recently published textbook, Understanding Digital Literacies – A Practical Introduction, as my ‘guiding force’ for this project. Now I can articulate the goals of my emergent course and tentatively identify its objectives before moving on to explore the best methods and approaches to make my pedagogy happen (online).

Here’s an idea of how I’m getting on:

Goal(s): to provide learners with both the theoretical and analytical tools needed in order to start exploring the many new digital literacy practices that have been afforded by recent developments in digital technology, and to encourage them to reflect on and critically evaluate their own digital literacy practices.

Objectives: (i) demonstrate an understanding that the concept of digital literacies (as opposed to ‘literacy’) is not just the ability to encode and decode meaning, rather it is the ability to do certain things, to show that you are a certain kind of person and to relate to other people in a certain way.

(ii) recognize that literacies are always situated and context-specific

(ii) recognize that an aspect of digital literacies involves understanding the affordances and constraints of individual digital tools

(iii) appraise a selection of digital technologies in terms of their affordances and constraints

Published inProgramme for Online Teaching


  1. I really like your designation as “clean” approach – starting from scratch. Many teachers who have been in the classroom for awhile must start from “conversion” for the sake of comfort and conceptualization. But starting fresh means fewer limitations and pre-conceived notions.

  2. I worked as an IT systems support for a Library about 3 years ago, where I was introduced to the concept of information literacy and been fascinate with ideal of binning information literate, and the number of people including faculty, who or not.

    I really like your gold; and the statement in your objective “demonstrate an understanding that the concept of digital literacies is not just the ability to encode and decode meaning rather it is the ability to do certain things”.

    We are empowered with information like no other time in recorded history, so what are we going to do with this power; I believe this is what POT is trying to help us figure out.

    Our students are born into this digital time but most don’t really understand what power they have with access to information, but even beyond that power “the ability to do”; this is what information does.

    We need a faculty that can help our students truly plug-in beyond angry birds.

  3. I enjoyed reading your posts. It is so true how we are empowered with so much information. If anything, it can be more challenging figuring out what we need versus gathering the information necessary. The charts from the tutorial helped me identify various tools I could use for an online course.

  4. Thank you all for your lovely comments. Yes, certainly we have access to information like no other time in history. I wonder what new knowledge is going to be created and also, what knowledge will fade away. Interesting.

  5. Hi, Helen – You are at an exciting time as you embark on your “clean” course design. I’d encourage you to think a bit more about your objectives at this point before launching much further. The first three communicate to me basically that you want students to have an understanding of some critical concepts. The question is, how will students demonstrate this understanding/recognition, because if it is simply being able to give you a correct definition, that is a fairly low level of learning and probably doesn’t really represent the depth with which you expect them to engage. Thinking through the kinds of assessments you might use could help clarify a deeper set of objectives that you have for your students – the kinds of activities they will be able to engage in once they do have those understandings in place.

  6. Thank you Jim for your advice. I appreciate that my stated objective of ‘recognition’ may indeed equate to a basic level of learning, like simply pointing and naming. So I will indeed heed your advice and hopefully identify methods of assessment and appropriate activities to more accurately reflect the depth of my objectives.

  7. I think that many in education teach as if this statement were NOT true: “recognize that literacies are always situated and context-specific” We have become so compartmentalized in instruction. Good for you.

  8. I enjoyed reading your objectives and goals. As I’m moving forward and toying around with Curriculum Planning and Lesson Plan Writing, I’m trying to keep those concepts in mind.

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