Final Course Prototype!

Course Overview

General Description:

My course is intended as a 4 week credit recovery exercise for grade 12 students taking Workplace and Apprenticeship Math 30 in the province of Saskatchewan.  This course deals with the buying and leasing of vehicles and corresponds to curricular outcome WA30.6. As I describe in my course profile, students attending my school live in a neighbourhood that is highly dependent on personal vehicles.  Therefore, this material is both relevant to their daily lives and required by curriculum.

Method of Delivery:

This course is mostly asynchronous with a some blended elements.  Students will complete the majority of material online, but will come into class once a week to demonstrate their calculation skills, give presentations, and check in with the instructor.


A full video overview of my course can be seen at the link below on YouTube.


As my course is not accessible to users outside my school division I have provided links to key items below.  This is not exhaustive however; please note that most assignments and quizzes are only viewable within the YouTube overview.

Course Profile

Gettting Started

Module one: understanding the difference between leasing & buying a vehicle

Module two: buying or leasing a vehicle (the process & cost)

The Creation Process

Below you will find links to blog posts that detail the development of this course.


That is a lot of links.

However, if you read this far I feel that I owe you an explanation of my process that is not an endless bulleted list.

When I began EC&I 834 I did not know what to expect.  Like most instructors I had engaged in emergency remote teaching during the pandemic, and while I did learn a lot I feel it would be fair to say that my material was less than ideal.  In the same way escaping a house fire does not make you a professional fire fighter, planning during the pandemic did not make me an expert in online instructional design.

My plan was very simple.  Be the sponge.  Absorb as much knowledge as possible until I figuratively weighed 6-7 times my regular body weight (boy, this analogy cam off the rails a bit).  My first “ah-ha” moment came during our presentation on the ADDIE model – starting with a deliberate/meticulous planning process got me off to a strong start.  Unfortunately, I was a bit trigger happy and plowed too far ahead.  The online space requires that instructors pay special attention to engagement (which is challenging in an asynchronous environment).  Not a problem.  I would go back and revise the material I came up with and add more opportunities for interaction.

This process of planning and patching continued throughout the development of the course.  H5P interactive elements?  Better go back and put those in.  Is your material accessible?  Nope!  Better go back and add transcripts to your videos.  Did you use AI constructively to aid in the creation of your materials?  Are your assignments something that could easily be completed with AI?  How about some peer feedback?  You get the general idea.

I think this exposed some fundamental flaws of my design process.  I always want to race ahead and get things done now.  This doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility, which is strange because when I plan for in-person instruction I account for the unexpected.  I naturally leave time for student questions, and have outright abandoned my plans when the needs of the class have dictated it.  If you read my blog articles you can taste a hint of frustration as I try to get out of my own way.

If I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now I think that I would have produced a better course, but the learning process (including the frustration) was far more important than the artefact that I ended up creating anyway.  I need to learn to relax a bit and work through the process naturally.

That’s growth, right?

All about AI

Working Smarter Not Harder – Using AI to Automate the Mundane

“Outsource your workload, not your thinking.”

– Alec Couros

In this week’s video presentation Dr. Alec Couros explored the usage of generative A.I. in classrooms.  The presentation was quite compelling, as he demonstrated several practical applications throughout.  This seemed particularly relevant to the creation of my online course as time always seems to be in short supply.

Does this mean that I should have used an AI chatbot to create my entire course?  Obviously, no.

First off, academic misconduct was still a thing (last time I checked) and would betray the entire enterprise of learning (which being a teacher I have a particular affinity for).  Secondly, Alec (for clarification while I don’t know Dr. Couros personally, I took a class from him last semester and he was comfortable with students referring to him by his first name) was very clear that we (teachers, private citizens, corporations, or cats walking across keyboards) bear ultimate responsibility for any A.I. derived materials that we choose to post.  Factual inaccuracies and bias can not be eliminated from algorithms and any information that we distribute to our students must be thoroughly screened.  Essentially, content generated by A.I. must be adjudicated against our own knowledge base.  This means the average user cannot go into the process blind, or simply trust the material (for example Alec cited an example of a B.C. lawyer who was caught citing non-existent case law generated by AI).  That said, what we can do with A.I. is automate the mundane, menial, and time-consuming tasks that take away from the real goal of teaching: building relationships with students and engaging in thoughtful and meaningful conversations.

Here are some of the examples that I felt could be applied to my mathematics course on buying and leasing vehicles:

  • Chatbots like ChatGPT can easily create multiple choice questions when a suitable prompt is utilized. For example, after watching Alec’s presentation I used one of the prompts listed in this Google document to create a list of multiple-choice questions on buying and leasing vehicles (a sample question is shown below).

Which of the following factors should you consider when deciding whether to buy or lease a vehicle?

  1. a) Expected mileage per year
  2. b) Current fuel prices
  3. c) Number of previous owners
  4. d) Vehicle color options

 Answer: a) Expected mileage per year.

Explanation: Mileage limits are a crucial factor in leasing agreements, whereas the do not directly affect buying.

The question is reasonable, and I appreciate that the prompt cues the Chat bot to include an explanation and rationale for the correct answer.  Utilizing this feature (even after verifying the accuracy of the questions) would have saved me several hours.

  • In a similar vein I used Chat GPT to create a series of short answer and long answer discussion questions on the pros and cons of buying vs. leasing. Here is an example of the output:

How do your personal financial goals and lifestyle preferences influence your decision to buy or lease a vehicle?

This is a decent question, but knowing my students I would have to clarify it somewhat.  This type of question would need to be accompanied by an example to clarify what I was looking for.  Guidelines for the length of the response (or number of points required) would have to be included as well.  The fact remains that this would be a useful jumping off point.

  • Increasing the accessibility of my lessons by using A.I. to translate the material to different languages is a unique capability that I am not sure I would be able to duplicate using anything else. I am a bit leery of not being able to verify the output though (harkening back to issue of responsibility).

Helping Students to Use A.I. productively.

Since A.I. tools are rapidly increasing in sophistication and proliferating throughout schools, successfully prohibiting their use feels to me like an act of futility.  As a general gauge I find once my mother (who is in her seventies) is freely using a technology the genie is truly out of the bottle.  The other day she told me about how she used Chat GPT to help suggest a recipe based on what she had available in her cupboard – so needless to say, A.I. has hit the mainstream.

Like any tool I think we need to discuss with students its inherent advantages and disadvantages.  Although this is not directly tied to the curricular outcomes of buying and leasing vehicles, I found it interesting that when I prompted Microsoft’s Copilot to create an image of “a young person buying their first vehicle at a dealership” it gave me four very similar options (see an example below).

3 people smile into the camera as they complete a car deal in a dealership. All three are Caucasian.

Do you notice something about the ethnicity of the people in the A.I. generated photograph?  Who seems to be missing (or not represented) in it?  What does this tell you about the data being used to train the A.I. model that created it?

Another interesting point that Alec brought up was that the essay, which is easily created by A.I. tools, may no longer be the gold standard for demonstrating learning.  Instead, we might need to shift our efforts to understanding how to write effective prompts and how to screen the output for accuracy.  Communicating with students why we need to read material to gain deep understanding will become a critical skill in a post A.I. world.


As I noted earlier winding back the hand of time is not a viable option.  Furthermore, as Alec noted in this video A.I. detection tools are (at the time of this writing) ineffective at detecting plagiarism and disproportionately flag non-native English speakers (in error).

I feel our best chance at mitigating cheating is by having open conversations with our students about the appropriate use of A.I., providing usable guidelines for its citation/clear expectations when it is not to be used, and building relationships with them so they respect the process of learning.  Some students will always choose to cheat.  Twenty years ago, I saw a student in a university chemistry final print a fake label on a cola bottle with chemical reactions replacing the ingredients list (he was caught).  In general, I believe a greater emphasis will need to be placed on process rather than product.  The pre-writing for a project will become as important (if not more) than the final paper.  It will also necessitate a shift away from generic essays to writing that directly connects to one’s personal experiences.  For example, could A.I. have generated this blog post?  Would it be able to connect to my Alec’s video or my projects I’ve created for this university course?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  As Alec put it, we need to have serious conversations about what is worth knowing.

Which brings me back to my course on buying and leasing vehicles.  Could students prompt A.I. to help them answer some of my questions?  Yes, but in the process of looking up this information would they not be learning?  Isn’t the point to have them read and learn about buying and leasing?  As my course has an in-class component, calculation-based questions are performed with the instructor.  At some point students will have to demonstrate their own understanding in a live environment.

The Reviews are In…


Firstly, before I discuss my feedback (on my first module) I would like to take a moment to thank the individuals who provided it.  As a teacher I often find myself working and developing resources in isolation (despite research indicating that teacher collaboration is fundamental to effective instruction).  It has been years since I have had a peer review my lessons and I respect and value the information that has been shared with me.  While I will not be implementing every suggestion (mostly due to time constraints), they will be used to guide this project long after this university course has concluded.

What Worked

Rationale & Utility

Both of my colleagues agreed that I provided a strong rationale for creating this content.  My students will purchase (or lease) a new or used vehicle sometime in their lives.  Arming them with the knowledge necessary to make an informed purchasing decision is both practical and directly tied to the workplace mathematics curriculum in Saskatchewan.  One reviewer noted that the inclusion of statistical data regarding our dependency on personal vehicles in Canada strongly supports the need for this type of instruction.  Essentially, this course is both useful and necessary.

Victory Loves Preparation

Both instructors who reviewed my work appreciated the structural elements of the course.  While my work was not flashy (more on that later) it was logically laid out and relatively easy to navigate.  My navigational elements worked as intended and both mentioned the inclusion of a “quick start guide” as a novel (and appreciated feature).  Admittedly, given the age group my module is targeted at (grade twelves) I have an easier task in terms of design (I can assume a degree of familiarity with the platform and a reasonable level of language proficiency) compared to those providing content to elementary students.  My reviewers liked the general level of polish of my materials which (for the most part) appeared professionally created and designed with the appropriate age group in mind.  It seems all those nights learning PowerPoint have finally paid off.

What Didn’t Work

Proofreading: It works Best when Used Beforehand

Nothing undermines your efforts to be taken seriously than conspicuous spelling and grammar errors.  My module has more than one.  It seems like a small thing, but the level of polish in one’s teaching materials needs to be high.  It is a little bit embarrassing to boast on one hand that you have taught for twenty years, and on the other not know how to spell the word “because.”  As an aside this shows how utterly dependent I have become on spelling and grammar checkers built into popular platforms.

Word Salad

As anyone who has taken the time to read through one of my blog posts knows I tend to be a bit verbose.   Long winded.  I talk too much.  This in turn is reflected in my written questions.  As one reviewer noted I overcomplicated many of my activities by using too much jargon.  Direct questions that emphasize brevity and key information will make my summary activities in my videos far more effective.  My first revision (after correcting my myriad of spelling errors) will be to condense and focus these questions for improved readability.  Going forward I will try to make sure that I spill less ink in the name of prose and get to the point quicker.

The Best Piece of Advice I was Given (That I Will Ignore…For Now)

The toughest pill to swallow (because it was true) is a fundamental weakness of my course.  While my lessons are informative and valuable, they are not that engaging.  Looking over my feedback it is evident that I am missing a hook, or something to draw my students in.  My immediate thought was that I should have opened with an anecdote or story – or better yet re-framed my course as a simulation.  How interesting would it have been if I had role-played a used car salesman or a bank loan officer and presented this course as a series of choices?

So why not do that?

Time.  It is in my nature to work ahead.  I have created so much material at this point that the thought of dumping all of it and restarting from square one makes me feel a little queasy.  This does not mean that I am going to disregard this feedback.  To the contrary, I intend to develop this into a full online course.  My next unit (which is on small business mathematics) will use this simulation idea from the outset.  Hopefully this will help increase student engagement.


Lumi Tunes

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re about to witness…

I have to admit that I was a little nervous going into this week’s activities.  I had never heard of Lumi, or H5P, let alone used them before.  Turns out H5P stands for HTML5 package; essentially it uses JavaScript to create interactive elements that we can share on our websites.  Since my online course uses a lot of video elements I thought it would be most fitting to add interactions to several of them.

There was only one small problem – I didn’t have any videos yet.  So I decided to create a few from scratch.  But isn’t that placing the cart before the horse?  My course would certainly need a syllabus.  Right?  Okay, no problem I can put one of those together.  What about a teacher introduction?  A quick start guide?  How about several sleepless evenings of feverishly creating content so I could get back to adding interactive elements to the videos?

I forgot.  I hadn’t made them yet.

Cue the internal screaming.

On your mark, get set, CREATE!

If you didn’t get a chance to read my ADDIE profile (if you didn’t I don’t blame you – its longer than the manifestos of some political parties) here is my course in a nutshell: I am making a unit on leasing and buying vehicles for students who failed grade 12 workplace mathematics (in my province workplace mathematics focuses on on practical day-to-day applications).  My grand scheme is to eventually create several units so students with attendance issues can earn a credit in the course.

Before I could create my nifty videos I needed to set the stage and create the shell of the course in Google Classroom.  I apologize for not linking to it directly, but my school division has created an electronic walled garden of sorts, and outsiders aren’t allowed past the gates (to be fair we did suffer a massive ransomware attack – so the paranoia is somewhat justified).

The preliminary work is below.

Boring Teacher Stuff

  • The aforementioned ADDIE profile

Getting Started

  • A quick start guide
  • Meet the instructor
  • Introduce yourself – this is the first assignment for my students.  They will create a short video introduction (under 30 seconds) including their name, an interesting fact about them, and why they took workplace mathematics.  I have provided an example of what I am looking for.
  • A course syllabus – I included a code of conduct to set my expectations for student-to-student online interactions

H5P content, assessment, and my rationale

Have you ever been shopping for jeans and you can’t seem to find the right pair?  The pair that are the correct size aren’t the right colour.  The ones in the right colour are way too big, etc.  This is how I felt about the videos I found on YouTube comparing buying and leasing cars.  Some hit on several key points, but left a few out that I wanted to discuss.  The ones that were comprehensive enough went way too long.  So I rolled up my sleeves, fired up PowerPoint, plugged in my microphone, and made my own video.

Next it was time to add H5P content throughout.  But what to add?  Interaction for interaction sake defeats the purpose.  In other words I wanted my tools to enhance the lesson in some sort of meaningful way.  For starters I wanted to keep obtrusive pauses to a minimum.  Every time I threw out a factoid I placed an optional link for students to click on if they wanted to see the source material.  Secondly I used text to summarize the main points made in major sections (again, an optional button rather than something that would kill the pacing of the video).  At several key intersections I placed quizzes to provide formative assessment to students so they could gauge their understanding.  These do stop the video so I tried to keep them spaced apart.  Due to my crippling need to organize everything I placed chapter markers throughout.  This allows students to jump to specific parts of the video when they complete their first written assignment (more on that in a second).  Lastly, there is a summary quiz to wrap up.

Here is a link to my first H5P enabled video created with Lumi.

As my first video is fairly neutral in terms of leasing and buying vehicles I then have students watch a video from Dave Ramsey (an internet finance advice guru) lambasting leasing and an article from a popular driving website defending the decision to lease.

For an assessment I provided the following written assignment (to be submitted through Google classroom).  My priorities where for students to engage in critical thinking and application of the content.  Understanding terminology is important, but I am really interested in how they apply this new knowledge.  The assignment description is below:

For this assignment you will answer the following questions:

1) Why is Dave Ramsey so strongly against leasing (which he refers to pejoratively as “fleecing”) vehicles?  Cite 3 reasons that he directly addresses in his video.  Your answer should be 3-4 sentences long.

Example: Dave Ramsey is strongly against leasing vehicles.  Firstly, he notes that when you lease a vehicle ________________________.

3 marks

2) In his article Benjamin Hunting describes why he ultimately decided to lease a new vehicle for 2 years.  Explain why he reached this decision noting two of his strongest arguments.  Your answer should be 2-3 sentences long.

Example: Although Benjamin Hunting didn’t initially want to lease a vehicle he came to this decision for several reasons.  First, when he ______________________.

2 marks

3) Based on the video in lesson 1 (part 1) and video/article in lesson 1 (part 2) which do you feel is a better option for you, buying or leasing a vehicle?

You cannot “sit on the fence” i.e. you must make a decision.

Example: Given my circumstances and preferences I think it would be best to…

You need to give a minimum of 4 reasons to support your position that should be specific to you and your context.

Example: One of the reasons I chose to lease a vehicle is that I intend to teach English in Korea for two years after graduation.  If I lease a vehicle then I won’t have to worry about selling it when I return home at the end of my contract.

2 marks for clearly stating your position (buying or leasing)
8 marks for your 4 reasons (2 marks each)

15 marks (Assignment Total)

You may submit your assignment as Google Doc, or if you are more comfortable speaking, as a short video on your cell phone (you may have to speak to your instructor on how to do this).

And then I made a bunch more stuff…

I then made several more lessons linking videos and articles.

I made another Lumi video for my second module which you can view here.  It pertains to reading window stickers on new vehicles.  As this is heavily focused on terminology I felt it was appropriate to assess this knowledge using a multiple choice quiz.  Multiple choice quizzes are not always the best – but the worlds of finance and car dealing have a lot of jargon (I think intentionally to confuse the consumer) that needs to be understood.

My Final Thoughts on H5P and Lumi

I like it.  But like all web tools like WordPress it omits the fine granular control that you get from writing your own JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.  It makes the tools accessible to all, but when something doesn’t work the way you want it to, you aren’t left with a lot of options.  As long as you are okay with some of the baked in limitations I think it is an excellent way to enhance content.

But be warned, all the neat interactions cannot compensate for the weak base content.  If the underlying video is inaccurate, biased, or poorly created all the interactive quizzes in the world won’t make it better.

Avoiding Awkward Silence – Planning for Student/Instructor Interaction

A drill sergeant leans in close towards a young man.

USMC-02659 by Staff Sgt. Thomas Perry, Public Domain.

Creating a Conversation

According to Michael Welsch an online course should feel like a conversation.  In his opinion, meaningful dialogue occurs when one engages in responsive teaching practices (integrating student questions and observations into lesson materials, using video introductions, etc.).  This builds a sense of trust and comradery amongst classmates and leads to higher engagement.

Looking at my own course it feels more like an awkward family supper with the in-laws.

Essentially, Welsch is emphasizing relationships, which is hardly a revelation to any veteran instructor.  So why is it so difficult to transfer these practices into online spaces? Why do I find planning a blended course so difficult?

That old sinking feeling

I am far more adept at connecting with people in person given my nearly twenty years of conventional teaching experience.  Call it familiarity, or call it the fear of the unknown, but I don’t feel comfortable with most features of my chosen LMS (Google Classroom).  But more than this am I have a more fundamental worry: I don’t know if my course will be engaging enough.

The purpose of my online course is to help students credit complete a failed class.  Mercifully, due to luck and circumstance (I don’t use those terms when my principal is around) I don’t have many students that flunk.  This creates a unique situation – effective models of online learning like OCL require rich student-to-student interaction, but my community of learners may only consist of one or two students.

How do I build a community amongst my learners if I only have one person taking the course?

It feels like being picked last for dodgeball all over again.

A man sits alone looking out of a window.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash.

Possible Solutions – Possible Problems

  1. Building Social Presence – It is important that students feel a part of something when they take an online course.  With only a handful of students working through my mathematics unit it will be incumbent upon me to step up (more so than someone with the luxury of creating sub-communities within their class).  My initial plan was to post short discussion questions in Google Classroom with students typing out 2-3 sentence responses (to maintain engagement).  Instead I think it would be better if students recorded short video answers to which I could respond with my own videos.  This will help students feel that they are authentically interacting with the instructor and provide an impetus for them to return to the course website frequently.  These short video clips will require clear goals and expectations (length, content, what is appropriate to discuss, etc.) both in written and video form (how can one teach how to respond in video form without making a video themselves?).  Creating an exemplar conversation between myself and a teaching colleague (playing the role of a student) would be helpful.
  2. Structure learning materials to support discussion – As Bates cautions our teaching materials, videos, and readings should be chosen with the explicit purpose of supporting student discussion.  In his view discussion is not an optional addition, it is the core around which all other activities are built.  This means my quizzes and questions in Google Classroom need to generate conversations, rather than being mere summative tools.  Thus after a quiz I will need to post a discussion question asking students to expand upon what they have learned, something to the effect of “After watching the videos and completing the quiz pose one unanswered question you still have.”  Circling back to student engagement I could then use one of these as the next major topic for video discussion (see number 1 above).  This would validate student contributions and make them feel that their input is valued.
  3. Create a relevant resource section – Part of establishing social presence is creating openings for learners to show what they have learned.  To keep students engaged I will create a message board section of my course (or a place on the main newsfeed in Google Classroom) where students will post news articles, or websites that are related to classroom activities.  In particular I would like students to share links to places where they have found information for their final projects.  To keep things simple I will provide examples of what I expect (A sentence describing the website, the link, and why they feel it is relevant to what we are talking about) and respond in either video or text format to encourage their participation.

I am wrestling with the idea of how this should be evaluated.  I would like student responses to flow organically from the material and peer discussion, but I am not sure how to get away from extrinsic motivators (i.e. “is this for marks”).  Obviously as part of my expectations I will have to have some sort of marking scheme (I am thinking about utilizing a rubric, but part of me feels like explaining what I liked about student responses in video form may be more effective – encouraging excellent work and asking questions when work is not hitting the mark), but I am not sure how best to do this.  If I had multiple students working through the course I could ask them which discussion answers they appreciated most, and factor their responses into student grades (perhaps using a google form?).

In short I am very open to your suggestions and feedback.

Blended Learning: A Mixed Experience

Blended What?

Sometimes the simplest tasks can cause the most trepidation.  Take for example this week’s blog entry: the relatively simple task of describing my experiences employing blended learning in my classroom.


Except that until 48 hours ago I didn’t know what blended learning was.  But no matter, academia will come to the rescue.  Certainly there must be a measured consensus on what constitutes blended learning?  As it turns out the spectrum of modalities (and associated pedagogical practices) through which blended learning may be delivered has resulted in semantic chaos in the literature.

Okay, that may be a bit of hyperbole – but the fact remains that we need a working definition for today’s discussion or we will be chasing our tails all day.  For our purposes we will call blended learning “an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with physical place-based classroom methods.” With that out of the way let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

This is the part where we talk about the pandemic for the 4000th time

For most of my career have I worked face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, teenage body odor to gasping instructor with my students.  I have employed (kicking and screaming the whole way) technology relatively sparingly as the profession has evolved.  I have a Google Classroom, I speak with parents through a learning management system, and I have dabbled with the odd online quiz/game for review purposes.

So like many instructors the shift to teaching online during the pandemic was as refreshing as being hit in the face with a garden shovel.  It is clear from the literature that I was not alone in these feelings.  It has been pointed out that  a lack of preparation and technological challenges left many teachers ill prepared to engage in a online instruction.  As such, Emergency Remote Teaching, or ERT,  should not be compared to well-designed blended learning courses or distance education programs.

Despite this, ERT was my first true experience teaching in a blended learning environment, and I feel it bears further examination.  Outside of a lack of preparation, why did my efforts fail so spectacularly?

Who could have predicted that poor design decisions (ill suited for the audience and medium) would result in disaster?

As Tony Bates points out merely transferring one’s in-person instruction to an online platform is usually met with mixed results, as we saw during the lockdown.  My first instinct was to duplicate my regular classroom in the digital world.  I recorded my lectures, posted assignments (that I had been using for years), and maintained the same pace that I have used with students face-to-face.  There are several flaws with this approach.  First, and possibly most importantly, it failed to take into consideration the needs of my learners.  Learning online is not analogous to attending a brick-and-mortar building.  Students working online have different needs.  For example, long unbroken lectures are ill-suited for screen viewing and should be broken up with activities and small group discussion.  As Bates put it,

It is important then to look at the design that makes the most of the educational affordances of new technologies, because unless the design changes significantly to take full advantage of the potential of the technology, the outcome is likely to be inferior to that of the physical classroom model which it is attempting to imitate.

Online instruction need to play to the strengths of the digital medium.  Essentially my emergency remote teaching was garbage because I didn’t try to meaningfully and thoughtfully integrate technology throughout.  Had I effectively used blogging, message boards, or met students on platforms that they were comfortable with (TikTok, Instagram, etc.) I may have had better results.

Furthermore, my asynchronous approach was not well suited to the types of students I was teaching.  Distance education is best employed with individuals who have high levels of education, are mature students, or work well independently.  Essentially I was fitting square pegs into round holes with a mallet.  My students were accustomed to a lot of support with differentiated instruction.  Simply dropping dozens of lessons online and saying, “here you go” was never going to work.

So…online is bad?

No. No. A thousand times no.

There is a pervasive belief amongst instructors that online learning is inferior to face-to-face instruction, this view, however, is unsupported by research.  I am embarrassed to say that I believed this as well. I thought that without personal interaction online classes would descend into endless tedium. However, instructional practice is the difference maker.  As Valerie Irvine argued online learning is neither passive nor boring, pedagogy is the chief determinant of engagement, not modality. Online instruction is engaging if you make it engaging.  In a similar vein, face-to-face instruction is engaging if we make it so.  Conversely, instruction is not improved automatically by seasoning it with technology.  It is not parmesan cheese, its mere presence does not make things better (I love parmesan).

A block of parmesan cheese

Parmesan Cheese by Jon Sullivan, Public Domain. If you think adding technology to your lessons will improve them automatically, you’re doing it wrong.

The case for cautious optimism

Blended and online learning made a poor first impression on me.  But in retrospect it was not a fair shake.  I was not given the support required to develop successful blended or online program, and I didn’t put the effort in to make my pandemic teaching work for my students.  This is one of the reasons I have taken this course – it is time to learn how to do this well.