Despite the rapid growth of online teaching and learning at institutes of higher education worldwide, switching to online courses can pose a great challenge to those involved in creating and administering them. In our presentation at Osaka JALT Back to School 2017, Mehrasa and I tried to simplify, clarify, and exemplify the process of online course design.
We focused on practices that we found successful in designing online English courses based on the related literature and our hands-on experience as online instructional designers.
Under the project title of Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO), we designed and developed, and are now implementing, a blended course of English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP) at Osaka University targeting second-year undergraduate students for a period of 15 weeks, of which 10 sessions are purely online and 5 sessions are face-to-face.
First, we reviewed popular instructional design models like ADDIE and SAM. We also discussed topics such as online syllabus, learning management systems, e-learning authoring tools, online visual design, e-assessment, and e-feedback. Finally, we introduced the most practical standards checklists for online course self-evaluation: The Standards Checklist by Marjorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski (2011) and Quality Matters Higher Education Course Design Rubric Standards, Fifth Edition (2014).
Slides: Online Course Design 101: All You Need to Know to Get Started
In our presentation at PanSIG2017, Eric, Mehrasa and I showed some examples of Augmented Reality (AR) use in education, tourism, and event organizing (e.g., TEDxKyoto). We also introduced several student projects that use AR (e.g., Fukuchiyama AR Quiz Rally).
Slides: PanSIG2017: Augmented Reality Design Principles for Informal Learning
In our interactive poster presentation, titled “MAVR (Mixed Augmented Virtual Realities): The Future or a Fad?”, we first defined Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities (MAVR) based on the reality-virtuality continuum. We also discussed the significance of MAVR, its merits and challenges, and the contribution it can make to education. Following that, we talked about the integration of MAVR in language teaching and learning. We then demonstrated some Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications, such as Aurasma, Blippar, Google Expeditions, and we also introduced a number of resources on the integration of MAVR in English language education; for example, Paul Driver’s learner-generated AR realia and AR Flashcards.
Finally, we introduced our forming Special Interest Group, Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities in Learning.
Poster: PanSIG2017: MAVR (Mixed Augmented Virtual Realities): The Future or a Fad?
MAVR team had three demos at the Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom 2017 (ACTC2017) in Kobe, Japan.
- MAVR (Mixed Augmented Virtual Realities): The Future or a Fad?
- Augmented Reality Design Principles for Informal Learning
- Mixed Reality Gaming Session
In our interactive poster presentation and technology-enhanced learning session, Eric, Mehrasa, Erin, and I showcased some Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications, such as Aurasma, Blippar, Google Expeditions, and we also introduced a number of resources on the integration of MAVR in English language education; for example, Paul Driver’s learner-generated AR realia. Moreover, we discussed a variety of case uses of AR in informal learning environments (e.g., TEDxKyoto, refer to ARientation Project YouTube channel for more examples).
In our mixed reality gaming session, the audience worked in group to solve a series of puzzles and adventures using virtual (Google Cardboard) and augmented reality (Blippar) technologies in an augmented reality enhanced learning environment. We first introduced Fukuchiyama AR Rally 2017 as one of the case uses, and then the audience went through some of its steps to accomplish the mission.
You can join the MAVR Facebook group to watch a video of MAVR team’s activities at ACTC2017, created by Eric.
ARientation (Orientation via Augmented Reality) is the name of a project created and managed by Eric Hawkinson which is meant to make Augmented Reality (AR) accessible to teachers, event organizers, and anyone looking to integrate digital content into real world activities. Fukuchiyama AR Rally is part of ARientation aiming at orienting freshmen at the University of Fukuchiyama to living in the city and adjusting to college life. A series of augmented and virtual reality activities is designed, and the participants visit different locations around the city, such as Fukuchiyama Flood Control Museum, Citizen Plaza, and Fukuchiyama Disaster Prevention Center, to get oriented to the new context and learn English in informal learning environments.
Fukuchiyama AR Rally 2017 was held on Friday, April 7th in collaboration with Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities in Learning (MAVR) SIG.
Eric, Mehrasa, and I created an AR-based Vocab Quiz for the Fukuchiyama Castle location. A game-based approach was adopted by using AR cards. Opportunities for the incidental learning of vocabulary were provided.
The scenario of Fukuchiyama AR Rally 2017 Vocab Quiz is as follows:
- Based on an English text about the Fukuchiyama Castle, we selected 10 words falling in B2-C1 levels of the CEFR, and designed a pre and a post vocab quiz.
- AR technology (Blippar) was used to create AR-loaded cards to explain the game, expose the students to the information about the Fukuchiyama Castle in English, and provide the definition and pronunciation of the targeted words.
- A game was designed by adding some secret codes to the AR cards, which the students would later need to unlock a box. There were mission accomplished signs in the box.
- Some photos were taken from the castle to design the game, and the AR cards were placed there one day before the Rally.
- In the entrance of the castle, an AR card played the mission briefing.
Castle Mission Briefing: https://youtu.be/3er0OHhxQq0
- The students took the pre-quiz.
- The students got exposed to the text through watching a video loaded on an AR card. The words were emphasized in bold.
Castle Text Reading: https://youtu.be/5TaKmi96_Rc
- The students got into the castle, and started exploring the castle to find the 10 AR vocab cards which contained the definition and pronunciation of the words and the secret codes needed to open the box, as said earlier.
Sample AR Vocab Card:
- The students took the post-quiz.
- The students were shown the last card with the lock cipher to accomplish the mission.
- After completing the mission, the students took a group photo.
Fukuchiyama AR Rally 2017 Vocab Quiz was held in four rounds with four groups of ten students each.
Here is a video of the Fukuchiyama Castle AR activity:
Written with Mehrasa
Osaka University has been using the Blackboard Learn™ platform since 2005, which is known as CLE (Collaboration and Learning Environment). I used to be a Moodler, and I personally prefer Moodle, because Blackboard often gets buggy, which makes the process of online course design extremely slow! That is why many universities are switching to Moodle such as Montana State University, California State University, and Long Beach (Blackboard Learn: Criticism).
Here is the list of major bugs I struggled with during the development phase of the online course, named Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO):
- Formatting glitches (e.g., extra spaces were added erroneously to the text, font got changed after uploading)
- Unresponsiveness of Bb Student and Blackboard Mobile Learn apps (e.g., large images and some fonts were not shown properly on the apps)
- Errors in the process of making tests and assignments
Moreover, no spell/grammar checker is available on Blackboard. This can cause serious problems in the design, development, and delivery phases of an online course, especially an English course.
Based on my personal experience, the answer is a big yes, especially if you are offering your English course at different levels. The reason is that you have to label a large number of folders for each week and level, and then you get easily confused about what to put where! It also takes longer to create your online course if the learning management system (LMS) that you are using is buggy, which makes the process of uploading painstakingly longer.
Designing an online course takes a substantial investment of time; therefore, time management is a critical component in creating an online course. That is why collaboration is the cornerstone of online course design, as many hands make the load light. Once everything is in place online, the rest of the work becomes just a little easier! 😉