Online Course Criticism Blog

Friday, November 18, 2005

2005 Sloan ALN Conference: "Pattern Language" Presentation

I am presenting aspects of the Online Course Criticism Model in a session titled: Toward A Pattern Language for the Design of Online Courses

The session description follows:
"Informed by pattern language models from urban design, this session will help participants explore the possibilities afforded by having a shared pattern language for online courses. If rich descriptions of “patterns” in diverse instructional contexts can be articulated, those concerned with understanding or designing such contexts will have a “language” with which to communicate. To get to this point, however, characteristics of many courses from a variety of disciplines and institutions need to be identified. To this end, participants will be encouraged to follow a consistent educational criticism approach so that course characteristics can be identified and readily shared among the practitioner community. Resources will be distributed to participants, and discussion will be encouraged during the session."

PowerPoint Presentation [ppt file; size=125kb]

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Symphonic" Aspects of the OCC Model

"Symphony," the third aptitude articulated by Pink, denotes a propensity for integrating constructs from diverse fields in new combinations. An emphasis is placed upon seeing the relationships between relationships. Arguably this is the most prominent aptitude manifested in Constructing Educational Criticism of Online Courses: A Model for Implementation by Practioners.

As summarized in Chs 1 & 6, constructs from instructional theory (Chs 1 & 5), Eisner's connoisseurship and criticism approach (Ch 2), qualitative research case study (Ch 4), typology examples from urban design & architecture, forensic science, archival studies, and archaeology (Ch 3), and a way of conceptualizing building construction (Ch 5) are presented alongside characteristics of online courses (Ch 3).

Personally, I find it helpful to look to fields other than one's own for insights and inspirations that bring about new ways of seeing and solving familiar problems.

In addition to the resources recommended in Pink's "portfolio," I have found these helpful:
- A Whack On the Side of the Head
- Whack Pack
- Conversations with knowledgable people from unfamiliar fields

(I would also suggest a tangentially-related book on prototype theory by Lakoff called Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things in addition to Lakoff's book on metaphor recommended by Pink.)

Training A Department Chair to Recognize Quality in Online Learning

Recently I have been involved in several inter-institutional conversations in which the need for department chairpersons to be able to recognize quality in online courses has arisen. The focus of these types of conversations tends to be on rubrics or checklists. However, to counterbalance these approaches (which do have value in their own right), I thought I would point to some specific elements of the Online Course Criticism Model that might be somewhat helpful in accomplishing this goal. While my focus in this model wasn't on training per se, I was motivated to find a way to help people who are inexperienced with quality online learning to become more aware (among other goals).

Let me point out a couple of sections from Constructing Educational Criticism of Online Courses: A Model for Implementation by Practitioners relevant to this question:

- One paragraph (on pages 173-174 of the pdf or 156-157 of the printed document) briefly explains the value of Online Course Criticism in "educating" those without online course experience.

- This idea is expounded upon in an earlier section (specifically pp 55-56 of the pdf or pp 38-39 of the printed document, but that whole chapter adds more depth).

- The importance of a robust, qualitative approach (as opposed to relying only on a "checkboxing" approach) is summarized in the paragraph starting at the bottom of p. 45-46 (pdf) or p. 28-29 (printed).

- The Online Course Criticism model is summarized in Chapter 6 (pdf page 114 or printed page 97), and an example criticism is provided in Chapter 7 (pdf page 136 or printed page 119). The "Portrayal" section (p. 137-149 or p 120-132) is probably *most* helpful as an illustration.

I'm curious to hear the thoughts of others on relevance/irrelevance of this kind of approach to "training" of chairpersons or others.