My Humanizing Reflections
Taking the course 'How to Humanize your online course' was an interesting experience for me. I think VoiceThread really helped to humanize this course and I think it can be a very useful tool from a didactic perspective. The audio and video comments make the discussion more lively than on a forum with only test messages. I liked that some participators used VoiceThread to make comments, or ask questions or respond to each other. It was also valuable that the instructor joined the conversations and gave feedback in audio and video.
Based on my experience in this course by ELI, humanizing really contributes positively to the learning experience. I consider this course to be a good example of a humanized course. The humanizing activities fit the course goal well. A takeaway for me therefore is that humanizing is a means to an end and not an end in itself. For example, the Web Class Mathematics (a course for which I was one of the designers) intends to help high school students to find an answer to the question 'is mathematics the right study for me?'. The duration of this course is 4 weeks with a total study time of 12 hours. I don`t think there is enough time for activities such as 'superhero powers' and 'Virtual paper bag'. But, I would like to use VoiceThread for enabling students and the instructor to have interaction by audio, video and/or text about (parts of) the course content. Students can ask questions to each other and to instructor. The instructor can use VoiceThread to give feedback relevant to the entire group and invite a discussion by video, audio and text with the students.
In the second week of this ELI course, I tweeted that 'my greatest takeaway of this week was that there should be a good balance between the content and the presentation of it'. For me this means that both the content of the course and the visual design of the course should be of high quality. The visual design of the course can have a huge effect on how a student experiences the course. But if the content itself isn`t good, then a beautiful visual design doesn't help. So you shouldn`t sacrifice content for visual design or vice versa. You need to have both, that is, a good balance between them.
Before this course I didn`t know about the existence of tools like VoiceThread, Animoto, Canva and Tackk. I enjoyed working with them. Canva offers nice possibilities for creating a banner, which I will use to improve the design of the course page of the Web Class Mathematics. At our university we use Blackboard and I don`t know how we can use some of these tools in Blackboard. But, as takeaway, it is important to know what tools are out there, because they can help improve the learning experience of the students.