I love decorating my Christmas tree. Every year I buy more sparkly, shiny things and manage to cram them all onto my fairly small tree – much to N’s amazement and the cats’ delight. Some of the decorations are beautiful, like the bauble from Charlene:
Some are not even ornaments, like my Dalek Mr Potato Head:
There’s no attempt to co-ordinate or be tasteful, there’s no need to limit myself to what is appropriate – as long as it’s shiny, a frog or a Doctor Who item it’s allowed. And that’s fine in my book – Christmas trees should be tacky and over the top. I appreciate some folk can make theirs look beautiful and themed, but that’s not for me.
But when it comes to online course design it’s a different story. There, although the temptation is still to cram all of the shiny, exiting things into one place, it’s important to take a step back and ask what you are trying to achieve. Sure, it might seem innovative to ask your learners to use Snapchat, or Tumblr, or whatever the cool kidz are using this week – but before you do, you have to ask yourself what benefit will this be to your learners. Or, to put it more formally – what is the pedagogical justification for using X in your learning design? If you don’t ask this, you risk confusing your learners, or having them drop out altogether.
As educators we have a responsibility towards our learners*, and means that we need to take the time to think through our course design and ensure that activities align well with whichever pedagogy underpins our teaching practice. So while it might seem cutting edge to design a virtual lecture theatre in Minecraft** and have all learners to attend virtual lectures, if one has a constructivist or connectivist model, then once you think about it, you might realise that there are better, less exciting, ways of delivering meaningful learning.
* I’m not talking here about cMOOCy things like rhizos and the like, but of formal, paid-for courses.
** Idk if this can be done, mind you!
First two images by me shared under a CC-BY-SA-NC licence