I really enjoyed creating my Online Writing Module. One of my favorite parts of teaching is the planning, the creating, and the (hopefully) perfecting of the materials. It was truly a benefit to complete this assignment and actually write an assignment and prepare a sample of it for the module.
The course is housed on Weebly. I’ve used Weebly for some time now and love the simplicity of it. One can simply drag and drop items or, for the more adventurous, write the necessary code in order to feature some more unique items on the website. The site is open. If I were to use this site in my current classroom, it would likely be closed. This is still a decision I am pondering. As a result of my studies this semester, my senior AP Lit class has been assigned a series of blog entries, which they are currently housing on Blogger. I’ve discovered that our district has no problem with students creating blogs, but I’ve not yet discovered whether or not their Google Blogger accounts are truly public—they’ve been created in our district’s domain. So, I’ll reserve the right to keep my course password protected or under the closed domain of our district based on the fact that I work with high school students. As I become more familiar with the publishing factor, I may change my mind. I’m a strong proponent now of having my students write for an audience, but I’m not convinced it needs to be a public one. Either way, assessment will remain private.
Designing the website was just fun. I chose a color scheme that was similar in nature to my existing blog and assume that if the course were to be fully developed, the two would likely link to each other. I wanted the site to have uniform appearance and to be visually appealing. I chose free photos to post as buttons and colorized them in the program, Pixelmator, whenever necessary to keep the color scheme consistent. I gave careful thought to what menu items I wanted to include and actually set up some form of content on each of the pages, including a Google Calendar that shows the deadline for the one sample assignment. The most frequently accessed areas have not only a menu link but a button with an icon as well. I tried to have a little bit of reasoning behind which photos represented which contents so that students would easily remember how to access various portions of the site.
I estimated that the sample assignment would be Module Six in my semester; on the Modules page, I set up areas to show where the other modules would be housed. I set up a sample forum, knowing that this would be an integral part of my course. There is a resources page with some sample links and an assignments page, which, only has the one assignment on it, but it has links to both the assignment sheet and the sample assignment. I also created a button that will link to course announcements. I would plan to archive them here and keep the most current one posted on the main page next to the icon of the “professor.” The syllabus would be posted above the calendar. The final two links or buttons would be information for students on how to utilize Remind for text reminders (the Remind account has actually been activated) and the contact page for information on how to reach me. One thing that is missing on this page is my office hours; that would need to be added based on my current schedule. I also inserted a contact form so that students would have a fast easy way to send a message or a question. This is something that I particularly like and am considering setting up on a website for my current classes.
In addition to Weebly as a Learning Management System, the tools that I will use include Google Slides, which I could post within the modules; Remind, as a means of sending out text messages; email, as a duplicate way to contact students with reminders or as a means of reaching them for other matters; and the forum as a discussion tool. At this time I plan to use Google Classroom for the submission of assignments, which, of course, utilizes Google Docs, my preference at this time for grading. Grades for writing assignments will be recorded on Google Classroom, but transferred to the institution’s required grade book program. Another tool that I will use will be blogs, as mentioned above. This, along with the forum, would be the primary way that students interact, although I hope I will continue to learn new methods to facilitate that interaction and the building of community.
All in all this has been a fabulous way to pull together all the concepts I have studied this semester. I am pleased with the final OWC and sample module. I will definitely be pulling items from this product to use with my current classes. I will most likely be using a combination of Moodle and Google Classroom next year. I am planning to incorporate blogging for my seniors, at least, and will utilize the forum on Moodle. Remind will be set up for my classes and, now that the school is using email more often to contact students, I can see myself sending email as well. Email, the LMS, Remind, and the face-to-face portion of my classes will allow for the information to be posted in multiple places and formats. I particularly like that there is room to grow; that’s probably the very best part of everything I’ve learned about teaching writing online.