Instructor: Simone C. O. Conceição
Department/School/College: Department of Administrative Leadership
This intervention focused on the implementation of a fully online, team project to show practical application of course objectives while building online learning community through the encouragement of peer learning.
Students utilized course content, detailed instruction sheets, and feedback on scaffolded tasks throughout the semester to guide their project development. Students were given group space in a D2L discussion area to collaborate on the various tasks.
Based on students’ responses to the evaluation survey, three aspects contributed to students’ learning about the web-based team project strategy: scaffolding, hands-on application of class concepts, and teamwork. Project results show the strategy positively impacted student learning, as students were able to put into practice theoretical elements of online course design.
Title: AD LDSP 707: Using Technology with Adult Learners
Session type: 16-week semester
Enrollment: 25 students
This intervention was selected to allow students the opportunity to actively apply course concepts to a real world situation while providing evidence of meeting course objectives, building the online learning community, and encouraging peer learning.
A web-based team project strategy was selected to assess student accomplishment of the courses learning objectives, build the course’s online learning community, and encourage peer learning.
AD LDSP 707: Using Technology with Adult Learners focuses on the design and management of web-based instructional programs and classes while applying principles of instructional design, media and software applications for adult learners. The team project strategy involved the re-design of an existing face-to-face course to a Web-Based Course (WBC) format from development of course materials to the placement of the course in the learning management system Desire to Learn (D2L).
The web-based team project was addressed in various areas on the course’s D2L course site pre-intervention, during intervention, and post-intervention.
Students were first alerted to the team-based project in the course syllabus where the project was described and assigned a portion (40%) of the overall course grade.
Before the project started students were distributed into teams of 4-6 members based on interests. For example, students in the higher education program were placed together. Students in science such as nursing and other sciences were put together. Students in adult education were placed together. I also try to spread students in terms of gender as I usually don’t have a whole lot of males in my classes.
During the Intervention
Students were involved in completing six tasks collaboratively throughout the semester. Students are placed into a forum for the completion of their team tasks. A topic area called “logistics” is used to deal with team logistics, getting to know each other.
Each task assisted the team members to develop and design the WBC. The final product was a Word document with all completed forms (1- 10), and a D2L course site with content, instructional strategies, and assessment strategies. The forms were found in the textbook used for the course (Design alchemy: Transforming the way we think about learning and teaching) and assigned throughout the semester:
· Form 1: Original Course Outline
· Form 2: Original Course Structure
· Form 3: Identifying the People Involved
· Form 4: Re-designing the Course – Course Structure
· Form 5: Identifying Module Outcomes
· Form 6: Designing Module Activities
· Form 7: Outlining Module Assessment
· Form 8: Assessment Descriptions
· Form 9: Course Resource Listing
· Form 10: Develop course syllabus
· Placing course materials in D2L. This involves handouts, PowerPoint, instructions on how to navigate through the site, strategies and assessments, etc.)
· Rapid-Prototype Evaluation (A different team will be assigned to evaluate your online course based on a checklist)
· Final version of WBC posted in D2L
I reviewed team submissions of tasks and provided feedback immediately after each task was accomplished which allowed me to identify strengths and limitations of students’ progress. Feedback helped scaffold student’s learning and allowed for corrections in learning.
Students, in task 5, conducted a prototype evaluation of other teams’ work, which allowed them to view what they were doing through the work of others. By evaluating others’ work, students reflected on the strengths and limitations of their own work and made changes to their final project.
The final team project was graded based on two aspects: (1) team and self-evaluation and (2) instructor evaluation.
Team and self-evaluation consisted of:
- Evaluation of every member in their group on the following criteria:
- Intellectual contributions (an individual’s contribution to the content of the educational program)
- Logistical contributions (posting, typing, editing, presenting, etc.)
- Creative contributions to the design of the educational program
- Leadership contribution (the driving force behind the operation at one time or another)
- Evaluation of your personal contribution/performance to the team.
- Providing comments to substantiate the evaluation points.
Students rated themselves and their teammates on the following scale:
Team and Self Evaluation
Total Points (Points will be averaged)
Scale: 1-3 with 3 being a high contribution and 1 being a low contribution.
Instructor evaluation consisted of:
Content: comprehensiveness, appropriateness, and quality. Document includes all the forms (Forms 1-10). Forms should be comprehensive and complete.
Organization: document is well organized and flows in a logical pattern. Elements of the document are in alignment with each other, i.e., instructional strategies are in alignment with course objectives.
Team and Self-evaluation
WBC Final Project
Instructional Design: (1) objectives are clear, (2) modules provide the skills and knowledge required for mastering the objectives, (3) structure of the modules is clear and easy to follow, (4) modules have assessment strategies that are in alignment with module objectives, and (5) language used to present the modules is clear and easy to understand.
Clarity of Directions and Interactions: (1) it is easy to navigate the modules, (2) directions related to communications with the instructor are clear, (3) hypertext links function and provide relevant and valuable information, (4) user is able to return easily to the modules from a hypertext link, and (5) directions to access the threaded discussion are clear.
Quality of writing: grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. Course documents are free of typos, misspellings, etc.
Students were also asked to complete a project survey as a way to evaluate the outcomes of this project (e.g., if the project provided them with a way to actively apply course concepts to a real world situation while providing evidence of meeting course objectives, building the online learning community, and encouraging peer learning). Students received the invitation to complete the survey from Qualtrics and I did not have access to the survey. I reminded them to complete the survey at the end of the course. I will use their feedback to make changes to the project next time I teach this course.
Course enrollment was 25 students for this course and 52% of the students completed the survey (N=13). The responding students reported very positive perceptions of the project with nearly all students (92%) agreeing that the web-based team project:
- Made them feel like they were a part of a community of learners;
- Helped them to think more critically about the course concepts;
- Assisted them to apply, in a meaningful way, the course concepts; and
- Gave them an opportunity to engage with their classmates around course concepts.
Based on students’ narrative responses to the project survey, three aspects contributed to students’ learning about the web-based team project strategy: scaffolding, hands-on application of class concepts, and teamwork.
Scaffolding. The web-based team project involved a series of tasks that were part of a process. One student explained how the task process influenced learning:
I really liked the scaffolding of each form leading to the next. If we were just tasked with developing a course, I don't think we would have developed each component the way we did. Each form really helped us develop the components of the course.
After each task, students received instructor feedback, which was part of the scaffolding process. One student described the importance of instructor feedback: “Being able to get feedback throughout from the instructor prior to final submission” was helpful to build skills in online course design.
Hands-on Application. Several students stated that the application aspect of the project was one thing they liked the most about the web-based team project. They were able to see how the concepts presented in the readings was relevant in practice and “it was easier to learn a concept when it is being put into action” as a student stated. The course involved converting a face-to-face course to an online course with considerable emphasis on creating a sense of presence and clear and concise language to communicate purpose and outcomes of the course. One student stated, “I enjoyed putting the concepts and ideas I was reading about into work that felt meaningful and would help me see how I could apply it in a real-life setting.” Another student said,
Thinking that I want to become an online teacher, this web-project was excellent! ...it gave the feeling that I was in a real online Distance Education class. The lesson plan was a good exercise too as it allows the student to think about what [to] prepare, write a script, and follow the lines. ...So I have to tell you that this was one of my best hands-on classes in this environment.
A third student explained how the hands-on activity was important to the learning process: “I liked being able to see the 'behind the scenes' of online course design from start to finish.” Students felt they were putting into practice what they learned as this student expressed, “. . . especially since one of the major themes of Design Alchemy is that assessments are artifacts of learning. We were creating artifacts!”
The applicability of what students were learning was a highlight of the strategy. This student described how the hands-on application was helpful, “It became much less theoretical and I was able to see how all the pieces tied together. Viewing other teams' D2L sites was also very helpful.”
Teamwork. Students also liked the nature of teamwork in this course because it involved networking, collaboration, disagreement, constructive criticism, and “the whole array of emotions you can have in a real work place” as one student said. One student explained what it meant being in a team, “Hearing everyone's thoughts, opinions, [and] experiences helped contribute to my learning and I will take the knowledge with me for the future.”
Learning with the team meant that a team member usually brought in concepts that could have otherwise been missed. This student explained how teamwork was important to the process: “I felt there was cross-pollination of knowledge and information.”
For some students working together made them feel more comfortable, as this student described, “You have a ‘student’ to interact. It makes me feel that I was ‘really’ teaching an online class.” Differences of opinions and visions of a final product was also articulated as a way to change one’s own perspective on how the work should be organized.
For some students, the size of the team was a concern as this student explained, “In a way it would have been nicer to have a smaller group because then I would have been able to do more, but it was a busy enough semester that I didn't mind just working on my small piece of the project!”
Another aspect of teamwork that was considered important was role definition because it was helpful to incorporate everyone's ideas. Using this strategy for the course, team members were able to decide how to communicate, which allowed for personalization of team members’ schedules.
Teamwork was definitely an enjoyable element of the course when it came to developing the end product. This student explained it well: “At times, it genuinely felt like I was part of a real work group. The sharing of ideas and goal-setting, which are so important outside of school, seemed to really be a positive to help me see how teams function outside of my normal scenarios.”
I have used web-based team project as a strategy in my online courses in the past. For this course, I changed the book and the assignment process. The book gave new ways of accomplishing the team tasks through forms by scaffolding knowledge and skills from the beginning to the end of the activity. In the past students had to start from scratch and build an online course. This semester I had students identify a face-to-face course to be converted to the online environment. The modified process strategy helped engage students in the activity through assessment of an existing course and applicability of concepts learned in the class. I felt the new strategy affected student learning and impacted team process. The strategy met my expectations for the course activity.
The use of the web-based team project in my course was a rewarding one. I would definitely use the strategy in the future based on students’ feedback and learning impact. Students felt they really applied knowledge to a real life setting. If I were to use this strategy again or suggest to someone else, I would:
- give more time to students at the end of the course to move the course to the learning management system (at least two weeks).
- consider simplifying the forms used for the different tasks because students felt confused at times.
- consider not asking students to revise the forms at the end of the course since this was one of the items students suggested in the feedback.
- one area that not all students realized in the final product was the creation of a sense of presence. I will need to emphasize this a bit more. Some of the final projects looked more like copying and pasting information from the forms into the learning management system without creating a sense of presence.
- emphasize the concept of presence when placing the course in the learning management system. This skill is very complex and requires time and experience.
The web-based team project strategy was a good match with my teaching philosophy. I like to give students leadership roles. In this strategy, students had to play the role of facilitator for at least one team task. It allowed students to manage the project collaboratively. They also worked together to make decisions, prioritize tasks, and manage time. I am a proponent of social constructivism and the assignment encouraged this type of learning and collaborative actions.
Based on student feedback and my own perception of the use of the strategy, I plan to take action about the changes next time I offer the course. Now I have good sample projects and documents to share with future courses and it will facilitate student learning.