Adam E. Rowland
Designing a Blended Course
Throughout the doctoral-level course for CI6163 (Technologically Driven Curriculum and Social Media), ensuring alignment between ISTE Standards, the learning theory chosen (Activity Theory), and standards from the various disciplines may have been the most challenging aspect of designing a blended course for middle school students. Figure 1 below is an infographic that depicts how the course was designed.
Figure 1: Framework for Blended Learning Technology Concepts Course
While the integration of engaging, Web 2.0 tools that provide cost-effective options (the best ones are free!) may have seemed daunting to educators with little to no experience in technology implementation, my background in educational technology made discovering and implementing learning tools relatively simple. Also, my background in teaching Language Arts for over 23 years allowed for insight into how some of these tools would lend themselves well for writing, collaboration, and understanding literacy-based concepts. Trying to imagine, though, how these tools could be implemented in other disciplines and for other purposes required some out-of-the-box thinking; creating experiences for all middle school students (grades 6-8) has always been a welcome challenge for me.
Should the opportunity arise to approach the blended course design differently, I would probably investigate ways to implement more experiences for students to use the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Although I have set aside an entire unit to explore the features and nuances of Canvas, it may be beneficial to provide ways for students to interact and collaborate in Canvas. At the very least, unit-based formative assignments could be submitted, scored, and given feedback through Canvas, and the built-in Studio feature in Canvas could provide an interesting and engaging means by which students could produce content/concept based videos that demonstrate their learning.
The blended design for a proposed standards-based Technology Concepts course at the middle school level is geared toward students grades six through eight; however, the course could also be adapted for students in primary and upper secondary levels. Understanding the developmental levels, learning styles, and attention spans of students may require modifications to content, tools, and levels of rigor. For example, what may work for students who are in primary school may not be entirely age-appropriate for high school students. Conversely, text and tools that are used with middle school students may need to be adjusted or substituted for primary-aged students to increase engagement and ensure comprehension.