Monday, July 16, 2012

Part 1: Lousy, Inflexible Course Content

Note: this is part 1 of 5 in the series "Overcoming the Challenges of Online Learning"

My team has struggled to find curriculum that is a good fit for our school and the families that we serve. The content we have reviewed is either dated (primarily text-based), expensive (you must purchase a subscription to the entire catalog), or rigid (can't edit or modify it in anyway; only compatible with a few LMS systems).

While I wouldn't say we have completely overcome this challenge, we have found a pretty neat way to customize our courses using Google Sites. If we find a lesson within a course that we are uncomfortable or unhappy with, we re-build the lesson with our modifications using Google Sites, embedding the site into our LMS when finished. The collaborative nature of Google Sites allows a team to work on a lesson simultaneously without the need of expensive or complicated software. We have had a variety of individuals who modify curriculum for us, many who have a limited background in web authoring. Google Sites is very user-friendly and requires minimal training to use.
An example of a lesson we built using Google Sites
At some point I hope to share more about this system and how we have made it work. Kudos to my colleague Jason Ragsdale for his work on this project!

Check out my other posts in this series:
1. Lousy, Inflexible Course Content - making your courses better.

2. Is that your work? - Overcoming the challenge of cheating. 
3. The Hallway Conversation - finding ways to encourage authentic conversations between students and instructors.

4. Pacing and Scheduling - helping students stay on schedule and learn discipline.

5. How does this work? - providing first hand experience to families who have no clue.


  1. Hi John! I like the new look of your blog:). I'm admiring those cool buttons for twitter & YouTube on the right...was that tricky to add those? Also, I just want to say that I look forward to reading #2 in this series :)

  2. John,
    Why not use some of the OER that is out there? Have you tried materials? Also, what about using a Flipped Classroom approach to teaching?

  3. We have been looking closely at OER content however none of it can be considered "turn key". Most of the content that is available lacks assessments. This is the case with the material from CK12. We have also found some pretty big gaps in what is available-- for example I have not been able to find anything for computer applications.

    Regarding the flipped classroom idea, I was an early adopter of this instructional strategy ( see some of my previous posts) however we are a fully online school which means that this is essentialy what we are doing!

    Thanks roar being a contributor!


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