Saturday, May 2, 2015

Choosing a Platform for Your Online Course

There are things I love about both Edmodo and Google Classroom. I have used both platforms with students and for teacher professional development workshops. I have found both patforms annoying however, when I want to build a course ahead of time.  They don't allow you to reorder the posts and I would have to plan my courses backwards, entering the last assignment/activity first. I realized today that I was frustrated because I wasn't choosing the right tool for the job.

Edmodo and Google Classroom organize posts in real time with the most recent post on top. This is great for courses that operate in real time aka synchronous. Each day you can post a quiz, poll, reflection question, assignment as it relates to what is happening in the class at that moment in time. Learners for the most part are at the same point in the class as each other. Conversations can flow naturally and you don't have to dig down the list for what you need. The current stuff is at the top.

What I needed was a platform that works well for on-demand or asynchronous courses or workshops. This type of course is self-paced and learners can be at any point in the course independent from each other. For an asynchronous course I want to organize the content in a specific sequence so learners can come into it at anytime and independently follow a learning path.

To be honest, I felt a little stupid when this dawned on me. Why this epiphany hadn't happened before, I don't know.

For an asynchronous course, I think any of these website creation tools would be fine. They allow for embedding or attaching a variety content as well as discussions and blog posts. Unfortunately they don't have an integrated way to create assessments or to distribute and collect assignments like Google Classroom and Edmodo.

Google Sites       WordPress         Weebly         Wix

Of course there is iTunes U which I've never tried and for some reason feel a little intimidated by. From what I've read, there are limitations in terms of creating assessments, managing assignments and student progress in the course. They have added a discussions feature which is nice.

I found a solution to creating an asynchronous course that I think will work for me in terms of course organization, management, providing feedback and tracking progress – Haiku Learning.

Haiku Learning is free (although there is a paid, more robust version) and has an easy to use, drag and drop interface for building a course. It allows you to embed various interactive elements and videos, set up multiple pages, track student progress, collect assignments, and give feedback. You have the ability to enable or disable various features such as discussions, assessments, dropbox, calendar, comments and wikiprojects. There is a lot of flexibility in how you organize course content and although you can only have 5 active courses with a free account you can have other courses that are disabled so that you can activate courses at different times.

Course participants must have a copy of the book Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence.

I have created a course called Griffin, Sabine & Figure 19 if you would like to check out how I have used Haiku Learning to structure a summer, self-paced course for educators. Just send me an email and I'll send you and invitation code to the course.

If you create online courses, there are a variety of both free and paid resources out there. Some are very simple to set up and some are more complex. Before building your course, consider whether it will be synchronous or asynchronous, the age of your audience and what features you need. If you are just putting content out their and don't need to manage students, assignments or award credit, any website creation tool will probably work for you. If you need to create a more complex course structure try out Haiku Learning for an good asynchronous platform or Edmodo and Google Classroom for a synchronous course.