Course Design

Course Design – Building a Culture for Reading in a Digital Age

Artifact part a): Syllabus for Education 673, Building a Culture for Reading in a Digital Age, UPEI
Artifact part b): Teaching Evaluations, July 2012, Education 673

Description of Artifact:
In the summer of 2012, I designed and taught a Master’s in Education course entitled Building a Culture for Reading in a Digital Age (Ed 673), for the University of Prince Edward Island.

This was a key opportunity for me to synthesize my prior and emerging knowledge on digital technologies and education.

The course was offered for the first time through the UPEI Faculty of Education in summer 2012. It was offered as an intensive five-day full credit course but with the acknowledgement that future iterations would likely be full-term online-only offerings. As a result, my curriculum design needed to incorporate flexibility of delivery wherever possible.

The course was also aimed at a dual audience: students in the newly-designated Graduate Certificate in School Librarianship as well as students in the Master of Education program. I therefore needed to ensure that the course materials, assignments, and discussion approached the concept of ‘reading’ from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives so that learners were able to build meaningfully on pre-existing knowledge across multiple professional contexts.

a) The Syllabus
The syllabus linked here outlines the basic intended structure, materials, schedule, and evaluation schema for a hybrid five-day Masters-level course, in which learners and facilitator would be together in the classroom for four full days at least, with additional learning, connection, and reflection taking place online both before, during and after the course.

The goals of the course were to unpack and explore three things:
1. reading and literacies and the educational and social contexts surrounding them
2. “The Digital Age” itself
3. our cultural assumptions about both.

As the course was intensive and the content in part about supporting reading within a digital, participatory culture, the course itself was designed to scaffold and support participation in the digital sphere as well as in class. Both a closed Learning Management System (Moodle) and open, public platforms (Twitter, contributions to blog comments) were incorporated into the assignments, though the course was so short that the learning curve for new literacies and practices could only be pointed to, rather than fully scaled.

In collecting and curating the readings for the course, I attempted to ensure that traditional essays and more informal blog-style posts were part of the curriculum. I also wrote assigned blog posts to synthesize key points and invite public conversation wherein students and my broader network could intersect and discuss issues central to the course. While in a five-day course, capacity for this type of sustained network-building was limited, I have continued to interact online with many of the students since the end of the course. Their continued engagement with me and with ideas we touched on suggests that the participatory focus of our work had some impact, and that they are beginning to perceive themselves – as learners and teachers – in digital age terms.

b) The Teaching Evaluations
Teaching evaluations at the University of Prince Edward Island are comprised of eleven statements about the course, each of which is scored on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Maximum score on any of the 11 points is 5.0.

My Ed 673 students rated my performance very highly:

1. Organization – 5.0
2. Clear communications of course content – 4.9
3. Appropriate evaluation – 4.7
4. Enthusiasm – 5.0
5. Concern about student learning – 5.0
6. Overall Effectiveness – 5.0
7. Made links between educational theory, research and practice – 4.9
8. Provided useful feedback – 4.8
9. Used a variety of learning activities – 4.8
10. Encouraged critique of various perspectives – 4.9
11. Set high expectations – 4.9

Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes displayed by Artifact:
Researching, designing, facilitating, and evaluating this course required me to:

  • survey, investigate, and synthesize educational literature and best practices on reading, literacies, and building a culture for reading within both library and classroom contexts
  • research, synthesize and frame the idea of “The Digital Age” for educators, highlighting key implications for education and learning
  • design a participatory, collaborative, coherent curriculum with Masters-level rigour
  • facilitate a practical yet highly conceptual course with a diverse group of educators
  • design a detailed and partially-collaborative assessment structure for the course
  • consider ways to learn from the evaluations and improve the course for next time


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