Reflecting for Growth

The journey

Attribution: Bob Jenkins

The road to publishing a blended Music 9 course has been a long, and fulfilling one. First, I had to choose an online or blended approach. Then, I wrote my course profile, which changed slightly over time after we had conversations in the Zoom Room on Tuesday nights, others shared new ideas on Twitter and in the Google classroom, I experimented with some tools, and researched the way others had developed blended learning classes in their schools. When I was deciding which mode of instruction to use in my lesson, I referred back to Bates’s ideas, and decided on a combination of video with audio, and text. I also had to consider how to make the course interactive and authentic. Finally, I had to publish the course, polish everything, make sure links were working and ensure that my peers could access the course easily. Even after carefully considering so many big and small picture details, there are definitely areas of improvement in my course shell, lesson, and profile.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my EC&I 834 peers who reviewed my Music 9 module for my course prototype and gave such thorough feedback on both what they appreciated, and what could be done differently. You have provided me with an excellent opportunity for reflection, which will result in growth. Another crucial part of the journey.

Reponse to Feedback

Reviewers Appreciated:
  • the organization and simplicity of modules and instructions
  • that the course profile was well-written and explained purpose of choosing blended approach
  • that the links worked
  • opportunities for interaction with each other and me (and appropriate questions to guide interactions in discussion forum)
  • that videos were informative, clear and polished

I felt that these were my strengths, and appreciated that my reviewers noticed these things as well. However, like Elizabeth comments, the course still has a few “kinks” to work out.

Reviewers said I could have:
  •  made it easier to log in to the Canvas course

UGH! I’m so sorry! *facepalm* Would you believe it if I told you that I had my friend sign into the module using the exact instructions provided to the reviewers, and it worked perfectly? I figured out that this was the best way after I had my husband sign in another way, which didn’t work, so I eliminated that option. After investigating and responding with further instructions, I have decided that I would do a screencast showing peers/students how to sign in to the course to clarify the written instructions. (If you watched my Summary of Learning video, you’ll know that (cue the rapping) “video is great for complexity.”) This was the most frustrating part of the feedback for me because I was so confident that it would be a breeze for people to sign in to the course.

  • made the LMS more attractive (like a music classroom with posters etc…)

Unfortunately, this is a huge limitation of Canvas. I figured out how to include a music image for the “Balfour Music Program” course, but otherwise, there is no way to include pictures with assignments, other than in the instructions. 😦

  • eliminated the second set of Music 9/10/20/30 modules

Weird. Not sure how this happened, but I’ve deleted the second set of modules for Music 9, 10, 20 and 30. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • corrected assignment feed order

I wonder if this is a glitch in the student view, as I don’t see this problem from my end.

  • provided an educator profile

Although it is not easy to find, if you click on the “people” link, you can click on my name, or the name of others students in the course and find a profile for that person. Mine is up to date and discusses a little bit of my personal and professional interests. I included instructions as to how to find this profile in the welcome announcement to make it easier to find.

  • included a checklist or rubric for evaluating Sampulator examples

Good point. Although I explain the expectations in the video, that is not enough. There is a rubric for this attached to the assignment now.

  • made outcomes easier to find in the course profile, not just the syllabus

The outcomes for the lesson/artifact/module are included in the course profile, but you can find a link to the syllabus with all of the outcomes addressed in the unit in the course profile now. I felt that the course profile and syllabus had different purposes with unique elements, so I hadn’t thought of including some common elements in both places, just where they fit best. I was trying not to be redundant, but if it comes off as unclear, then that isn’t what I want either! This is the benefit of having multiple people try the course before asking students and parents to use it. Angela thinks so too.

  • Shown overall evaluation of the course

This was/is in the syllabus.

  • made a more organized way for students to submit assignments by assignment/student

This is a VERY IMPORTANT consideration for me to make before asking students to take part in this course. In Canvas, the options for students are to share GoogleDocs through “Conversations,” or by sharing links, which all students can see, to a discussion forum. What I would do to ease these limitations, is create a folder for each student within a larger folder for the whole class in GoogleDrive in which they would be taught to organize all assignments based on the title of the assignment as it appears in Canvas. It is unfortunate that Canvas doesn’t have such an option built in.

  • more thoughtful solutions to barriers of implementing blended learning

This comment surprised me, because I thought I had done this, but when I looked back at the course profile, I had only ACKNOWLEDGED the problems. I guess that in my head I had solutions for most of these concerns, but I hadn’t communicated any of these. So here is what I was thinking: Low bandwidth, poor Wi-Fi connectivity and limited devices, all require back up plans. Luckily, on the few days when students would encounter these issues, I could easily do the lesson in person using music notation paper, or they could have a practice period. Another concern I had was the time it would take to get kids using Canvas, and wondering if it would be worthwhile to have them try. Now, I think that I could get all students on Canvas within an hour, and ultimately, they would save time because they would be able to work at their own pace and outside of school. Finally, I was concerned that some students would have access to better apps and devices than others, which could be discouraging. Since I presented this concern, I think that it would be possible to use the student fees that we already collect for the music classes to go towards the purchase of apps on shared devices at school, making access more readily available to everyone. I’ve also been paying closer attention to the number of students in my classes who don’t have a device. I only have two, which means that we could easily find an iPad or ChromeBook for them to use instead.

Final thoughts

CC BY-SA 3.0 NY

I am now more prepared to tackle the creation of a blended course than I ever have been. As I’ve said before, taking on this challenging is overwhelming if you want to do it well, but the results are so worthwhile. And a big part of the reason why the results are so good, is because of the collaborative learning effort of the ECI 834 class and the constant reflection that we were asked to do throughout the semester.

I think that I will tackle another blended class in the future, but I’ll be sure not to try to do it alone!

Like Megan, I want to thank everyone for following my journey throughout the semester, and for all of your help!

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