From Here To There

I’ve taken some time to recharge the blogging batteries. Let’s start with this one.

I was doing some brainstorming the other day, trying to think about a course I’m helping put together for HarvardX. I wrote a little chart like this:

Assets | Methods | Objectives
       |         |

The left-hand side is for listing the good things about our topic, and the resources we have,  anything that would help us improve our students’ learning. In this particular case, the big thing we had going for us was that the topic is inherently cool. It’s also fairly recent, and

The right-hand side is for listing what we want students to come out being able to do, or appreciating, or thinking. Any sort of objective is ok – learning objectives, affective goals, etc. We had a good number of content goals; the sorts of things one usually finds in the bottom of Bloom’s taxonomy. We also wanted people to come away with an appreciation for the importance of being multidisciplinary, and a greater interest in the space program.

In the middle part, you draw lines from your assets to your objectives and label the lines. It’s a way of saying, “here’s how we’re going to take  advantage of this asset and use it to forward our course.”

I got stuck. I got completely, utterly stuck. There was a total disconnect between the assets on the left-hand side and the course’s objectives on the right-hand side. Even after a lot of experience in teaching and a lot of educational research, I really hit a brick wall here.

I would have had a much easier time listing challenges instead of assets. The material is disconnected from our daily experience. It requires some math, and draws from multiple topic areas. It’s cutting-edge information, which means it’s inherently a little uncertain. There are a lot of challenges to overcome, and looking at how we might overcome them would have been an easier exercise… but that’s the kind of thing I’m used to doing. Teachers spend a lot of time looking at our challenges and figuring out how to overcome them. I don’t think most of us are used to looking at our course’s assets and figuring out how to use them.


About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on November 18, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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