This week in our EC&I 834 class, we met in small breakout rooms to share our course prototypes and first modules. It was a great experience reviewing the courses as we all come from different teaching backgrounds and experiences. Thank you to Miranda, Raquel and Devin for the positive feedback in our breakout rooms, as well as advice from Erin and Amanda throughout my course building process. Here are some of the suggestions I received and how I plan to implement the ideas.
First, here is a link to my course: Exploring the Elements of Art: Grade 3 Arts Education Unit. I decide to prepare all of my activities in Seesaw, but my biggest challenge was how to present my course in a simple and easy-to-follow package for educators. One suggestion I received was to change the opening text on my homepage. Originally it looked like this:
To make the course more inviting for educators, I changed “About the Course” to “Welcome!”. I also changed some of the text in the opening paragraph in an effort to sell the course and entice educators to continue exploring the course.
I also struggled with my menu titles and options throughout the process. At first, I did not include a page with the Course Profile (which was originally posted on this blog site), so I added an edited profile to reflect some changes I made to my original post. These include changing the number of lessons and using an Arts Education folder in Seesaw instead of a “landing page” work-around option.
Course Modules? Modules? Lessons? Focus Lessons? Focus Modules?
Word choice can be complicated, and I think this is an area I was really overthinking when setting up my site. Since my course covers the seven elements of art, I thought it would be useful to refer to each element of art as a “focus” for the particular week. Seven (7) focus topics followed by a final project to complete the course. The reason for this word choice is that for some “focus” topics, there would be two Seesaw activities (a practice activity and an assessment activity). Through conversations with classmates, I changed the wording from “Focus Modules” to “Outline” as a menu heading. When you click “Outline“, you are taken to an outline of all the lessons covered in the course (with links to each lesson). In the dropdown menu, I had “Lesson Overview”, which took you to the same “Outline” page. This was confusing for some classmates, so I took the suggestion of removing the redundant menu item. Now, the only pages listed in the dropdown menu will be each lesson listed as “Focus 1:…”, “Focus 2:…”, “Focus 3:…”, etc.
Since my course activities are accessed through Seesaw, it is assumed that an educator will use the course if they use Seesaw. But, for my classmates that do not use Seesaw, I provided links to the YouTube videos and screenshots of the activities so they could have a sense of course. In many cases, educators could adapt the lessons from the screenshots and videos to use the unit without Seesaw, but for the purpose of this class, I will be focusing on creating Seesaw activities and instructional videos.
Each activity is available for teachers to save to their personal Seesaw libraries, and they have the ability to copy and edit the activity if necessary. The feedback about the activities was very positive, especially from classmates who do not use Seesaw with their students. Since I am currently using this unit with my Grade 3 students, I was able to show my breakout room how the activities have actually worked with students and the results so far. I also have the benefit of making adjustments as I go along for future activities (especially with having very clear instructions in a completely asynchronous online environment).
I provided clear rubrics within my Seesaw activities, but one suggestion from a classmate was to include a self-assessment piece. I love this idea since I think arts education is a very self-reflective process. I will be including self-assessments within future activities that include assessed art projects.
Try not to overthink it!
Overall, the best advice I received was to step back and not overthink the website! My Seesaw activities make sense, but I struggled with the wording and organization of my website for the purpose of educators who want to use the course. I am still not convinced it 100% user friendly, so I appreciate any other feedback you have about the ease of access and understanding how to use the course.
Until next time,