Trust The Children

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Online Instruction Opportunity

It's another great day at USU. As many of you know who follow our blog, I decided a year ago to pursue an advanced degree in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State University. After 27 years of home schooling I decided this was much more of a passion for me than business. It is a leap of faith, but so far we see the Lord's hand powerfully in our lives.

I have the opportunity in one class this semester to create some online instruction for K-12 age students. As I understand the assignment, I need to create a few modules on a subject, put them on our Moodle server and then have some students try them out and give feedback. Besides being online, the other requirements are that the are free and that they use a constructivist methodology. While some on the list, might be aware of constructivism, it is unlikely that as K-12 students many of you were exposed to it. This learning theory, in a few words, believes that individual construct knowledge as they are exposed to stimuli by adding it to existing knowledge. Instead of knowledge being "out there" that we need to ingest, knowledge is "in here" and constructed by each individual differently. Constructivist courses are often uncomfortable at first, because individuals are "waiting" for someone to tell them how it is. When they realize that they are expected to come to their own conclusions, it is a bit unsettling, but over time, becomes very worthwhile. (Last semester a group of three of us constructed a traditional instruction set about a part of PMG that supports the institute class I teach at USU Institute. It has proven to be very successful with students, though traditional. I mention this because I am supposed to be able to develop instruction using a variety of learning theories. So, while I am a constructivist at heart, I do get the other sides of things)

If any of you have ideas for courses you would like to share for our team to consider I would be very pleased to receive these ideas and have our group consider them. I am told we are not going to produce an entire course. It might be only a few modules.

If you are interested in an online experience for any of your children such as I have described, please send me topic ideas, age ranges and provide me a valid email address which I will keep private so that I can eventually give you access. The topic doesn't matter to me as we will be utilizing an outside expert for the topic we choose for guidance.

There may be other online offerings you are already using that I am unaware of. My bet, however, is that they are more traditional in approach. This can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

Thank you so much for your consideration of this opportunity.

Mark and Cyndy Weiss


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