Saturday, October 15, 2016

Designing Online Courses

Designing an online course can take detailed planning, especially because it involves the use of technology. It is not safe to assume that students know how to use technology, just because they do it daily. 

I am working on a unit that my Grade 11 students started last week, called "The Cell." I am building out the course using iTunes U (seen here-download on an iOS device using the iTunes U app). Since I have been using iTunes U for four years, it is nice to use my graduate course to help me analyze the way I develop courses and how I can improve. This process is allowing me to think through what I have, and how I want to develop it further next year. 

Here is an outline of the unit that aligns with IB DP Biology standards:

  • Reading pages will be provided for all sections of our e-book (Sections 1.1-1.5)
  • 1.1 and 1.2 Cells:
    • Cell Survivor-1.2 Ultrastructure of Cells: HudsonAlpha App, and e-book Section 1.2 to help review cell organelles.
    • During cell survivor activity in class, Google Slides link or Canva app to create presentations. Google Classroom dropbox.
  • 1.1 Intro to Cells Review
    • The Low Down on Cells Handout and Why are Cells So Small Handout to accompany review stations in class (station instructions provided in class).
    • These review stations are to review how to measure micrographs, analyze the cell theory, explore examples of cells, and understand why cells are so small in regards to surface area to volume ratio.
  • 1.5 Origin of Cells
    • E-book reading assignment and notes
    • Videos “How Did Life Begin?” to watch after e-book reading
    • Notes provided as resource and review in class together
    • Online discussion on Google Classroom on reductionist vs systems approach of studying science. Replies encouraged and discussion face-to-face
  • 1.3 Cell Membrane
    • E-book Reading with notes
    • Video to learn how to draw and label a cell membrane and students to make their own.  
    • Instructions to make a video to analyze the falsification of the Davson-Danielli model that led to the Singer-Nicolson model, rubric for grading provided for formative assessment (app choices also provided)
  • 1.4 Cell Transport
    • 1.4 e-book reading and notes
    • Cell Transport animation to enforce reading
    • Teacher notes on topic provided as a resource
    • Video creation (app choices provided) of an assigned cell transport mechanism to teach the class. Rubric also provided for formative assessment- in class and out of class
    • Data Based question in class as discussion for informal formative assessment
    • Practice Problems on Osmosis-in class and out of class
    • Osmosis Experiment (in class from Wards AP Biology Kit) and lab report with provided rubric as summative assessment-in class and out of class
    • Explore cells under a microscope to review cell organelles (1.2 review)
  • Formative Assessment quiz over Topic 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 (in class)
  • Formative Assessment quiz over Topic 1.3, 1.4 (in class)
  • Bell Work, kahoots, and discussions, and drawings will happen in class as informal formative assessment.
  • Unit Test over 1.1-1.5 in class. Multiple Choice and Free Response to practice the formatting of the DP and AP Biology exams.
I expect that students will begin to understand that all cell organelles are interconnected and depend upon each other in regulation, specialization, and transportation for the survival of the cell. We will begin the conversation of this in this unit, and explore this more into other units. They know the understandings of the unit outlined in their DP Biology curriculum. They should be able to analyze the knowledge of cell organelles and apply them to the origin of cells, the understanding of how the cell membrane works, as well as how cells transport substances in and out.  Students will need to be able to understand command terms as given in the DP in order to show their understanding appropriately from the learning experiences we have online and in class. They will need to continue practicing their analyzing of experiment data skills in order to communicate their understanding of the experiment we will conduct together. 

I already can reflect and see that next year I want to teach many of my units, including this one, from a case study perspective. Sometimes looking at the inner workings of a cell is a "zoomed in" reductionist approach. I want my students to connect more. It's been a few years since I've taught this course, so I feel a bit rusty. But I hope next year to bring more authentic learning experiences to studies within the cell, and not just topics, such as ecology or genetics! 

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