Summary of the Course
English 203: Introduction to Poetry from Missouri State University was taught by Lanette Cadle and presented on iTunes. Students are expected to read eight chapters and an appendix over the course of eight weeks and write six poems of specific form. At the end of the course, students are expected to produce a portfolio showcasing their poetry.
Design of the Course: This eight-week course is designed as a video lecture series as an introduction to writing poetry. In her introduction video, the instructor mentions this course is a “Studio Class” where students will learn techniques, terminology, and practice writing the types of poems read for class. The HUB, which houses additional reading materials, the syllabus, and assignments, is available for enrolled students, but since this is a class from 2012, I was only able to access proposed or current materials for other courses. English 203 uses a MOODLE platform so there was a location for students to submit discussion posts and assignments. I was unable to locate any specific lesson plans for weekly assignments, only the overview was posted on iTunes.
Presentations of material and how it’s different from face-to-face learning: This is a lecture course so it is not much different from a face-to-face course in a brick and mortar building. The difference in this lecture series is that I expected some guided questions to help me further my personal understanding of poetry. This series told me everything I should know about poetry including how hard it is to write. The instructor did explain that students could contact her via Skype and Twitter, and that there were “many other ways to communicate” (Cadle), but I saw no evidence of archived posts in her blog. However, the instructor’s blog (used for personal and professional content) did include some assignment information as well as her musings about poetry and writing for anyone to peruse. She addresses her course participants in the blog, but there is not a dedicated area for the course content. iTunes did offer the course overview/syllabus and related readings, but it was not organized in any particular order so it was a bit confusing.
How the course offered a rich learning experience: Aside from not having to travel to the Springfield campus for this course, I did not find this a robust learning experience. I was often confused by the instructor’s presentation of materials, specifically the terms. There were no guided questions to reflect on the course objectives so I was a bit lost. The instructor’s cats were entertaining.
Reflection of the educational theories found in the course design: The series relies on Marzano’s note taking and practice strategies. I would have like to see more collaboration, constructivism, and feedback. The strategies might be different if this was a ‘live’ class, but in this format, I found little scaffolding for learners.
Challenges and benefits to online learning in k-12 education:
One of the challenges to online learning, particularly in k-12 education, is the concept of making students feel adequately supported. This lecture series design does not fit the bill. Although this instructor was incredibly warm and welcoming, her lectures were no different than those I might hear in a bricks and mortar setting. Because I did not have questions to guide my learning, discussion posts to help me understand the objectives, or additional research to conduct, I found this course design to be inadequate for online learning.
Among the benefits of online learning in a k-12 setting are flexibility and convenience of the course, content, and delivery method. K-12 students also cite pace as another benefit of taking online courses. Additional reading, writing, and research for online courses is welcomed by students who have learned keen time management skills to complete assignments. This lecture series lacked many of the key benefits of an online course.
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