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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Surprises in ID!

I've spent the past couple of days looking at courses in Blackboard.  I'm fairly sure that is going to leave me with some comments on BB eventually.  So far my primary observation is that BB makes it very easy for faculty to develop courses without thinking about navigation.  Good faculty clearly develop courses that help students work through the material, but inexperienced faculty can easily end up with material scattered about with no connections where there really should be.

I'm also back at those original web-base courses that so many wonderful faculty came up with -- the ones that linked every part of the course from an "interactive syllabus".  My own version had a schedule page that was really simply a table with a column for dates, readings/lectures, discussion, assessments.  Each of those was linked to the specific activity.  I thought then and still think 15 years later that that is a simple, straight-forward way to organize a course and that it allows students to easily work through the material without wasting a lot of their time on confusing navigation.  

Students shouldn't be surprised by a due date or assessment of some sort.  They ought to be able to easily put all of the course activities into their own personal calendar.  Several of the courses I reviewed today included a schedule with all information necessary for students, but equally several did not.  Including a separate schedule page might be a concrete goal for this coming year.

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