Pedagogy and Backwards Course Design – Week 3 – POT



Image attributed to Lisa Norwoord, Flikr

I love this image. Not only was I looking for an image to describe design thinking “backwards” but the person in this picture is instinctively doing what we are not supposed to ever do – walk into a fire.

That’s what designing a course like an eTextbook feels like to me – being forced to walk into a fire.

I know we are all expected to do things that don’t necessarily “work” for us in institutions. From a pedagogical point of view – I know, that I can’t “follow” the signs telling me that I “have” to walk into a fire. It really hurts to be burned over and over again.

However – I am thinking of designing a course that makes me “think” (not feel) that I am walking into a fire. The  difference is, I am choosing to do it. II think it’s a fire base don my habits – because I am so used to designing, creating and teaching one way – I literally have to force myself to walk backwards and do what I am not used to doing. So my instinct and mind is guiding me and telling me – it’s ok, it’s not really a fire, it’s just different. However, I am fighting years of tradition telling me – it’s a fire, watch out, get away, run! Does that make sense?


It’s me choosing to “deal” with walking backwards, and being able to “think” my way through the process as opposed to being told to do something that doesn’t feel right and I am not thinking for myself.Backwards

Which one would you choose?

Enough metaphors…

I really enjoyed reading  thinking about course “readiness” factors and thinking about stages within the organizations that I work with. Last year, I worked with a high readiness institution, but I purposefully chose not to use D2L (and tried to avoid any LMS), because I wanted to be able to have ownership over my own course.  All of the courses had already developed and as a teacher we had limited ability to go in and make any changes. As a result, I needed to look for alternatives. After reading the text and listening to the screencasts form Week 3 – I realized that it was pedagogical beliefs coming through and not just stubbornness on my part – that determined my course design choices.  As an educator, I wanted to be part of the design process – and having an already created course did not meet my pedagogical needs.

I didn’t last long at that institution – because I spent a lot of time talking about how the fires weren’t that bad and encouraging people to come down the stairs. Until I realized – if you are a human being and you see a fire – you will run.  I can’t “make” you walk towards a fire – unless YOU know it’s not really a fire.

It means more to me that I can help others design their courses and keep rethinking “how” to learn in online and blended environments – and face their own fires.

I am developing a HS MOOC based on Leadership for October. I think I will focus on it for this post. I really appreciate the templates and I look forward to “re” designing my course based on some of the templates that you provided.

My primary goals in designing my new course are to:

1) Think about how to create an inquiry based or problem based learning course – online

2) How to rethink assessment/course design using competencies (especially how to integrate the Alberta Gov’t Inspiring Education Framework based on competencies

I just completed a small research project on “How” to create competency based criteria for open badges. I am helping  to create a proposal for UBC about creating flexible platforms for formal and non-formal learning.

What I noticed in the first Week 3 resources video – is that I will have to create my courses backwards when using competencies. I will have to  start with the skills, behaviours and attitudes that I want to see evidence of – at the beginning and then funnel down towards core competencies. I’m wondering if there is a template for “backwards” design?

What I would add to this discussion this week is two other key resources

1. Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy – I have this posted in front of me to ensure that I clearly offer opportunities for multiple ways to learn. I also really like the examples with words to help me create my outcomes.

2. Mozilla’s Web Literacy Framework – Like Bloom’s Taxonomy, the options and examples help me think about how to create authentic, current and meaningful activities for the students and help me think about other skills that they can (should) be developing in my course.

So – I guess my focus for the HS Leadership MOOC is on how to “rethink” designing online and blended courses.

Verena 🙂

PS  I have to say that my textbook came in record time – all the way to Calgary, AB. Thank you to whomever needs to be thanked. The textbook is a great fit with the course because the tone of the writing in the book blends with the tone of the extra resources. I also had a great time “popping” into the Google hangout today.  I liked hearing about different ways to engage and connect our students.

Please support my attempts to build knowledge together with some feedback and/or suggestions