Web-Based Multimedia Design for Educators

Catalog Description for 15:255:504 [3 credits]

This is an online course available to graduate students who are interested in the use of technology to support education. This course was developed based on the philosophy that knowledge is socially constructed and that students and teachers learn best when learning by doing. While participating in this course, you will have various opportunities to engage in both individual and collaborative activities that emphasize learning through design and inquiry. This course is designed to provide educators with the theory, knowledge, and 21st century skills that are needed to use new technologies to enhance communication, teaching, and learning. Throughout the semester, you will learn about a number of web 2.0 multimedia tools, and you will come to understand how new media challenge traditional ways of learning and communicating. You will investigate learning theory and its implications on interactive multimedia. You will study the relationship of instructional design principles to selection of media elements (text, video, sound, animation, and graphics) for high-quality, effective design and assessment of multimedia projects. You will identify the use of multimedia to meet the needs of your audience based on theory, developmental appropriateness, background and culture. Through a variety of real-world project-based activities, you will demonstrate your ability to use the tools reviewed in class for educational purposes.

This course is the second of three courses that comprise a Certificate in Educational Technology.  I assisted with the development of these courses with a small cohort of research colleagues that was supervised by Dr. Erica Boling.  The development of these courses was funded through a $250,000.00 grant from the Verizon Foundation.  More information on my involvement with this initiative can be found on the Projects page of this site.

Reflecting on Changes to Course Content

I have taught this course for six consecutive semesters since it was first offered as an educational elective in the Fall of 2011.  With each new class roster, I reflected on what I had done within the course, what was successful, what could have been done differently, what my students were enthusiastic or dismayed about, etc.  I was able to hone and develop the course in line with my new-found perspectives.  As is customary with courses that are run through the Pearson eCollege platform, Rutgers sends all online students a survey to be completed at the end of the semester.  In an attempt to change my practice during the semester as opposed to only after the course has ended, I created my own online survey and sent it to my students approximately halfway through the term.  This method allowed me some insight into what I could do to improve the course experience for my current students, in addition to gathering feedback in preparation for teaching future iterations of the course.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned from this experience is that each group of students is different in terms of expectations… Things that students may like one semester are not as popular the next time around.  There are assignments that have consistently been praised and I continue to keep those as they are.  Depending on the number of students I have each semester (typically anywhere from 7 to 16) I am able to provide more or less feedback on the required discussion posts, individual blog posts, and so on.

Teaching Methodology

I create new screencasts each semester that provide a complete overview of my syllabus and how to navigate the course platform I’ve decided to use for that particular semester.  While eCollege is the standard platform that’s used by Rutgers, the first three semesters that I taught this course, I created a separate Wikispaces site where I housed all of the course content for my students to access.  I wasn’t a fan of eCollege at the time, and wasn’t as familiar with it, so I stuck with what I knew.  While preparing for my fall 2012 course in August of that year, I decided to take a chance on exclusively using eCollege as the platform that housed all of the course content.  Previously, I had my students use the Wiki, which mirrored the material that was on eCollege (I uploaded things there so that they were equivalent, but I didn’t use it when referencing any of the required readings and assignments).  My students complained that they had too many places to click on and post to, so I dropped Wikispaces entirely.  This decision was also preempted by the  fact that Wikispaces was supposedly starting to charge people for using their site.  Since I like to model FREE tools for use, in tandem with pressure from my students’ feedback about having to access too many sites, I dropped Wikispaces and haven’t gone back to using them since!

I took a couple of online courses over the course of my post-secondary studies and I mostly learned what not to do when teaching online.  I didn’t feel like I got to know my professors, they weren’t active at all in any of discussions we were required to post to…never commented on any of our blog posts.  When I emailed, I would get a response fairly quickly, but that was the extent of it.  In a way I was secretly pleased that I’d had an experience such as this with which to compare my own teaching methods.  I knew what it felt like to be in a non-communicative professor’s course, and I was certain that was not how I intended to run my courses!  Judging from the feedback I receive, I think my students are pleased with my online presence efforts!

Selected Course Resources

Course content from select semesters can be found by clicking on the following links below: