Reflecting on Peer Reviews

Reflecting on Peer Reviews

The combination of reviewing peers’ courses and receiving feedback on my own course has been extremely helpful in pointing out the obvious next steps in my course creation. I’ve never created an online/blended course before, and although Katia’s guidelines for the profile and prototype were very clear, receiving honest feedback at this point in the semester is much appreciated. Before looking at some of the other courses or having mine reviewed, I wasn’t sure how to make my particular course better. Now, I have some ideas! A few initial thoughts on moving forward as a result of being a reviewer and reviewee:

  • My course has unanswered questions. How will students know how to navigate the platform Canvas, which is likely new to them? If students are completing the course fully online, how will they know how much to do each day or where we are in the lesson sequence? What rationale do I have for students completing the JAM (Journal About Math) at the end of the topic rather than at another point, such as the beginning? How exactly will the course look when it is implemented, both in person and online, as it is technically blended? For a course that might have students completing it completely online and away from the classroom, these questions all need answers.
  • My course could be more concise. The “Lesson Guide” page for my first module is rather lengthy and wordy. I need to think about how to simplify this, perhaps by replacing some words with visuals/other media instead.
  • My course could be more engaging. Even though I’ve attempted to create an inquiry-based course, I’m not sure it’s hitting the mark. It still follows a very direct instruction-practice-quiz format, which might be hard to avoid, but I need to think about adding gamification or shuffling things around to increase the engagement factor.

So, back to the drawing board I go. If you have any brilliant ideas, I’m all ears!

Free Board Chalk photo and picture
Photo by athree23 on Pixabay

This week in class, we explored equity and accessibility in online courses. I hadn’t thought too much about these issues before, but Katia’s lecture and the subsequent small-group discussions helped me think about the accessibility of my own course, both for my particular learner personas and other potential students. Is my course accessible and equitable? Are there ways I can improve accessibility and equity?

Reading through Section 9.2 of Teaching in a Digital Age by Tony Bates, along with class discussions, helped me create a list of changes I could make:

  • Ensuring links are on the title of the document/page something is linked to, not just the word “here”, as this is unhelpful and confusing for screen readers
  • Including required prior knowledge for this concept, plus clearly stated instructions for my learner personas working exclusively at home, working at a grade 4 level, and who are just now learning English and will need language support
  • Clarifying steps for students who experience accessibility issues around wifi/connectivity

Looking at the Technological Equity and Accessibility For Virtual and Hybrid Learning reading that Katia suggested, I was reminded to consider that the students who would be completing this course fully asynchronously may need supports beyond those already provided by the online function. As stated in my ADDIE model, two of my learners are attending this course from home due to mental health challenges. These students may have barriers and challenges beyond being in class that might prevent them from completing coursework on time or in full. As I certainly would not want to exacerbate the stress levels of these students, I want to include something in my course that clearly states that accommodations can be made on an individual basis and that I (the instructor) am happy to meet with students virtually, by phone, or communicate by chat and make a plan to help alleviate unnecessary stress and ultimately help them be successful.

Spending a little time on my Canvas-hosted course, I realized that there is an accessibility checker right in the LMS! Cool! So I was already able to make some changes suggested by Canvas.

I was recently listening to The Office Ladies podcast and the hosts (Jenna and Angela) were talking about how really good things aren’t created the first time. I’m paraphrasing, but they discussed how you have to make a lot of crap before you make something great. I immediately thought of this course I’m creating. As I tinker with it, change it around, add and remove things, and continue to ultimately just mold it into what I hope it to be, I’m confident that in the very least, it will be better than it is right now. And if and when I create an online or blended course in the future, it will be better than this one.

Free woman ladder nature illustration
Photo by RosZie on Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on Peer Reviews

  1. Something I’ve thought about with all of our discussions of learning management systems has been the onboarding process. I think even administrators expect teachers to be able to pick new software and use it immediately. The “intuitiveness” of the controls isn’t a substitute for guidance. This is why I chose an LMS that my students had already used, but on the other hand I know that I am essentially locked into one platform that may be inferior. I thought about Canvas, but I knew I would have to create a series of guidance videos and tours which I didn’t feel I had time for (which is a shame because Canvas looks awesome).

  2. Hello Christina!
    Thanks for your blog and reflection. I found the feedback provided by our colleagues extremely helpful and gave me more time to reflect on our course profile from a fresh lens. As I work through units or lessons, I sometimes need to rely on others to ensure my work is polished and ready to go for our students, and this was no exception. I resonated with your accessibility point on titles. I often feel things may be geared toward “common sense,” but last week’s class certainly provided room for further reflection to meet student needs in a more meaningful and inclusive way.

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