Course Organization and Design Spotlight #1

Faculty Info

Name: Carol Hartnett
Academic Program: School of Education
Average Number of students per section: 30
Featured Course:

  • EDMS 522 Literacy 1 Methods: Multilingual/Multicultural

Had you taught online prior to the rapid shift to virtual instruction in response to COVID-19? 

No, not until the shift.

What practice or technique have you implemented in your course?

I wanted to provide a course design and organization that enables students, as well as myself, to smoothly navigate a virtual environment. I wanted to make the layout interesting, thematic for the content area and something in which the students would look forward to participating. There is a “big picture” sense in the course design. The modules reflect areas of study with both Synchronous, followed by Asynchronous activities, outlined. There is always a visual Agenda, an Overview page and an End of Module page with wrap-up reminders to finish, as a conclusion.

There is an inviting Home page with a “calm” photo banner and vintage themed shortcut buttons for easy access to most needed areas and resources. The modules for the elementary teacher candidate, taking this EDMS 522 Literacy 1 education course, are accessed through digital buttons based on classic children’s book characters. Links in the syllabus take them directly to Signature Assignment protocols, resources and directions. They can quickly click to the course schedule, outlined by the weekly topics, where assignments and expectations for reading are also listed. There are also links to resources and videos that will help them prepare for the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA).

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Carol Hartnett | CSU Channel Islands

Why did you choose this approach?

Teaching teacher candidates to teach by modeling best practices has always been a focus for me. Organization helps make this happen. Helping students make connections is also important for success… making connections with each other, with me and ultimately with the content of the course is paramount.


How have students responded to this practice or technique?

Organization for students is a foundational element to their success. A strong design will keep them engaged. Students have expressed appreciation to the design and organization of the course. They find the layout and expectations easy enough to follow. They find what they need, readily. They are starting to adapt some of these teaching strategies to virtual tools we are also using, which reflects the transfer that is also an important aspect of education and teaching. Planting the seed, with an idea and an example, encourages many of them run with even better ideas. I learn from them as well. That makes it a satisfying experience for me to be their mentor.


When courses resume on our physical campus, will this practice transfer to your in-person classes? If so, why?

When courses resume on a physical campus, much of this practice with course design will transfer to in-person classes. I believe that the summer training and mentoring I have received to present an online course, such as this, was a wise investment of my summer. (My travel plans were all cancelled, after all, due to COVID, which made the decision much easier!) When courses resume on physical campuses, I feel I now have a more flexible platform for instruction. I have an engaging Canvas course layout, many more ways to differentiate instruction as an educator, and I have been introduced to many more tools for engagement that can also enhance an in-person classroom experience. There was also the reinforcement this summer of what good teaching practices include.


What’s your advice to EDUCATORS preparing for a virtual Spring 2021?

My advice to educators preparing for the Spring of 2021 is to continue to keep things simple for your courses, simple yet engaging. Build a class community with activities where students can begin to form connections with each other, such an example is the 2 Truths and a Fib game in the beginning of one’s course. With teamwork and collaboration, we enable and qualify our students for the long haul of working with others, particularly in the field of education and teacher preparation. Let your students know you care through the multiple ways of communicating available now in Canvas. Communicate and help them to pace their way successfully through your course.


What’s your advice to STUDENTS preparing for a virtual Spring 2021?

For students I recommend that they make a plan from the first week of school to pace themselves and not give into the temptation of distractions. Taking on too many units and working simultaneously also makes success difficult. Easier said than done… I know! My module week pacing schedule is a simple idea, gleaned from the THRIVE course, but it must also merge with one’s lifestyle in order to be effective.


Which 3 resources and/or tools do you consider essential to effective virtual instruction?

The following are recommendations of resources and tools I consider essential to my effective virtual instruction: 

  1. The Canva app (for certain!) … It helps create a visually appealing, first impression for my Canvas course and maintain a fun and stimulating virtual environment for my virtual students. 
  2. Polling in Zoom also helps me keep a bead on the pulse of the group. It keeps me in touch with how they are feeling about certain things. The anonymity of it helps them be honest in their responses. I can glean valuable information from this to guide my “next steps” for them.
  3. Adobe Fillable Forms has enabled me to make crossword puzzles to complete online, rubrics with drag and drop check marks for easy communication in grading, and I can now create “fillable notes” in concept organizers. No need for the students to have a printer if I can scan and use the fillable form option.

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