I am not accustomed to having the opportunity to iterate instructional materials/courses before introducing them to my students. My teaching load at Kutztown, when combined with my other commitments, does not give me much time to develop instruction. Often I only have time for a first pass at development before I need to be ready to make the course live. Typically, I need to design something based on my best guess as to what my students need, and then I iterate based on feedback I receive after I run the course for the first time, and my own observations upon what is working and what is not. I know this is not an ideal situation, but it is the reality of a 4/4 load where I teach a minimum of 8 different preps in a single academic year (while working towards my PhD).
I much prefer preparing for a class when I teach it a second (third, fourth, etc.) time because I honestly enjoy tweaking things and rethinking my work. Often I am pleasantly surprised when I go back into my courses and I remember things I liked about them. I am also fueled by the challenge of finding ways to make something better – sometimes this is inspired by student comments or suggestions and sometimes by my own study or reflection.
My process for iterating materials and online courses I have taught before includes taking notes based-off my observations and student feedback immediately after the course is taught. Then I put everything away until it is time to prep the course again (typically in August for fall courses or January for spring courses). I look back at the course structure as a whole and decide if there is anything I want to change about the overall outline or pacing of assignments. For example, two years ago I switched over to a model where my online graduate courses are broken into three unit trimesters, each five weeks long, based off feedback I was receiving from my students. Once I have iterated the overall structure, I look to see if the content or assignments need to be updated or changed.
Having Amber provide feedback on something that was still in the development phase, therefore, was a rare luxury for me. It was very helpful for me to use her feedback to think through the overall structure of the existing and future modules before I went too far down one development path. I have been known to get caught up by something I think is clever and I end up trying to shoe-horn an idea that I am enamored of into a place it really doesn’t fit. I think have early feedback could help prevent me from following a hare-brained idea too far. While I look forward to a day when I can invest more time in iteration before teaching a course for the first time, I doubt that will be happening any time soon!
I will be using Amber’s feedback as the main inspiration for my iteration this week. While her ideas have inspired other ideas, I will try to refrain from moving too far beyond what Amber has suggested during this first iteration, for time’s sake.