Question 52

52. If your team included an instructional designer, please discuss their reflections on supporting a globally networked course. How different was their role compared to other courses they have facilitated in the past?

Del Mackey was the participating Instruction Designer. The courses I have worked on previously have mostly been in-house or specialized course flows, so having to design to a radically broad and dynamic audience was interesting. One of the biggest hurdles and challenges when approaching the course was the differentiation between the students from the different institutions, who had varying levels of experience in working in an online course framework. With that in mind, testing the tools and thinking about ease of flows was a big part of designing that I never had to approach previously. The thought was always for design from an immediate level, whereas the COIL course had to feature designing around a beginner level, and how those beginners would have to understand accessing and using the course.

The UTEP instructional designer was a hands-on person who responded to our requests and our conception of how the site needed to be organized. These pedagogical requirements were taken with utmost seriousness and facilitated a smooth communication between all parties. As this was the development of the first GLC it does not compare to any other course offered at either universities. 

Our team included an ESC instructional designer who attended the October 2011 COIL workshops with Dr. Gupta-Carlson and helped work out some of the initial technological possibilities for how the globally networked environment might be created. Most of the curriculum development work, however, was carried out by the two faculty members on the team.

While Starenko feels regret about the technological and pedagogical failure of the class-to-class synchronous online component, he feels good about the design and positive effect of the Cafe’ Bar discussions. All in all, he thinks that his role in this project was similar to his role in scores of other projects involving online and/or blended course design. Because Martins and Charry copied Starenko on their voluminous email correspondence, he was able to discern three themes in the course design and “delivery” processes:

  1. Challenge of "team teaching" a course designed and previously taught by one of the two instructors
  2. Difficulty of assessing the educational benefits of asynchronous compared to synchronous communication modes and technologies
  3. The various impact of different instructional/linguistic environments (I.e., ACMT students working online in one computer lab, whereas Rochester students working online in their individual rooms)

Early on, months before the course was offered,  I met with Yasue to experiment with web camera’s and a different, high tech classroom that no one seemed to know how to use as it had no consistent . We decided to switch to the Incubator classroom which has very good, daily technical support staffing. We also met another time to discuss the instructional design the course, and I offered suggestions for structuring teams, encouraging mixed teams (2 Japanese and 2 American), but it was determined it would likely be too difficult for the students to coordinate. Once the course started,  my role was limited as the instructors preferred to work independently and use the incubator classroom staff as needed. I did attend the sessions and offered to assist in training for the LMS and or the web conferencing tool “Elluminate/Collaborate,” a powerful but more complex web conferencing tool. But it was determined that simpler solutions (Skype or Google Hangout or Web-Ex) would be preferred by these instructors. 

Anita Warfford at UNCG set up the Blackboard platform for the course, and then the instructors made day to day adjustments and changes.

I was very excited to work with the TPA team on this project.  It offered many opportunities for collaboration and an expanded world view.  I joined the team after it had been established and the grant had been awarded, so there was already a clear vision of how the course would be organized and conducted.  

One of the initial questions posed was the choice of learning management system for the course (whether open or proprietary).  I discussed a few solutions with the team, but the team eventually decided on ANGEL since it was the most comfortable space for the lead instructors to design in.  From a management perspective, using Buffalo State’s ANGEL instance was different in the sense that users had to be manually created, added, and maintained, but this proved to be an easy task.

Additionally, the lead instructors of the course determined the progression, layout, functions, and design of the course based on their own extensive online teaching experience.  I was able to suggest a few potential tools (ex: wikis, the potential for synchronous meetings and potential web 2.0 tools to facilitate such meetings, etc.).  

Overall, the course appeared to run very smoothly and with very few technical difficulties.  The instructors divided up the sequential modules between them, and once the process for uploading content was established, development went smoothly.

The biggest difference in the IDS’s role was the global connection. The IDS had to consider the technology capabilities on the home and Russian campuses. The other aspect that makes IDS’ role  different was creating the COIL course in an open access site compared to within  an on-campus fully supported LMS. This meant creating a course template independent of the college, which brought responsibility to instruct student users across both borders.  Trying to integrate ID’s instruction into course content also was challenging in the face of time limitations and established curriculum goal for the discipline. There is teaching involved in media ecology and technology literacy that is important to consider alongside course content in COIL course delivery logistics.

From a Media Ecologist perspective, the ID feels the most impressive outcome of the collaborative course was to see the human interaction that took place between the two campuses. This is something that would not have happened without the COIL course, and it is an extension of the best practice models that we are trying to incorporate in blended and online courses offered by our college. This across country human interaction outcome also supports SUNY-wide global interdependency goals where colleges seek to develop citizens who are able to function effectively in a global society.

One of my early insights from the COIL institute workshops was that  the majority of the work required to develop and implement a GNL course was similar to that required for any online or hybrid course.   And typical with my experience assisting non-GNL faculty, most of this work was performed up front in the design/development phase.   Intercultural interactivities can be treated as any other learning goals and so follows the same process to develop effective activities based on proper alignment of teaching strategies to assessments to technologies.  

The GNL aspects of the course were related to choosing appropriate intercultural learning goals and working with faculty and logistics that involved another campus, culture, language, course and time zone issues. This makes the faculty-instructional designer collaboration a little more complicated but not unlike other online courses.   Many of the course design and logistics issues were simplified with the decision to use classroom videoconferencing as the central mode of interaction for the course.

One of the things that was different for this course was the scope of my involvement. In the past, when working with faculty, my role usually involved brainstorming on specific tools that could be used to increase student engagement and participation. However, with this course, in addition to brainstorming on different tools, I was involved with the design and structure of modules in Moodle (LMS used for the course). After the initial design of the course modules, I provided suggestions and comments specifically focusing on workflow from a student point-of-view (who were from two different cultures and time zones) that the modules were easy to navigate and the instructions for each module were clear. I also tested all the links making sure they worked before opening the course to the students. It was a pleasure to work with such faculty who were very enthusiastic and supportive of the instructional designer. It was a creative and collaborative atmosphere throughout the entire process.

NCCU: All of the IT designers discussed how detailed they needed to be, with respect to particular needs of each university, and for choosing amongst the many IT tools best used for pedagogical purposes.  Often in training faculty to use tools in the course, they are discussing potential uses and impact of tools.  The very hands-on nature of our course design required individuals to be patient and attentive to the faculty’s ideas, even as ideas are being vetted.  Flexibility and a breadth of knowledge of up-to-date resources was necessary for the instructional designers and IT specialists.

UNISA: We agree with the above. The IT issues were addressed collectively as well as by individual institutions.

ESC: The role as instructional designer in a globally networked course is different. In this course, we worked with a bigger size of team; and when we were deciding which videos or which tools we want to adopt in the course, we need to confirm that students from both countries can have access to it.

ULPGC: No “official” instructional designer was enrolled in this project.