I noticed some difficulty with the choice of font and the color used in the "Elements" Project-Based Approaches course on the "Your Turn" pages. You may want to remember that a lot of us who will be using this site are not exactly spring chickens. Aging eyes will often have difficulty with a light-weight font in a low-contrast color. I do think this item should stay in the modules, though. It's important to provide adequate instructions to participants in an online course. This is where so many miss the mark. What may seem apparent to the course creator is far less so for the participant.
A second issue I found with this course is the use of a large red question mark to indicate quizzes and other types of material receiving special emphasis. Each time I reached one of those pages, my first reaction was that I had received an error message. It seems like the wrong color/icon combination.
The more that you can include video, sound, quizzes, and any other interactive or media-rich resource in this course, the better. It appears to be moving in the right direction in terms of online learning.
I just have a couple comments on specific pages -
(1) I noticed that the roll-over "hints" were available when I first got to the list, but got the sense that they weren 't supposed to be visible until after I tried to categorize once. (2) is there a way to be remined or shown which answers I got wrong so that I can learn where my thinking was wrong. (3) placing some of the activities into category was not cut and dry, some depended on design of activity.
(1) Really liked the resources being present within the flash and easier to get to, instead of up in the resources. It is nice that you can seach through the resources without interrupting your progress. (2) For #1, it says click when no click is needed just a rollover. CLick is then needed for the three lower bubbles.
3. Timeline pop-up - the user felt that there was some expectation of them (other than completing the action plan) to complete, an activity, at this point.
4. The audio was a bit "hokey" and sounded like it was being read from a script - got better as the course went on but the beginning was the issue. Didn't seem conversational, and interfered with the course learning. User decided to shut off the audio, but appreciated the two roles and them playing off each other.
5. Like the variety of activities used to check understanding. Liked that even if their answer was partially correct, that positive reinforcement was provided. Try again feature was liked.
6. Difficult to find action plan template.
7. Nice incorporation of new content or review (21st Century Skills) in a topic that teachers may already be more comfortable with.
8. Some had trouble with the font style and some saw the text in blue which was harder to read then black.
I reviewed Module 4 and here are some specific comments on that:
-loved the organization of "management categories" in Lesson 2--gives a slightly different way to look at the various tasks involved and made sense to me
-the real-world examples that teachers can adapt (like letters to parents, etc.) are great
-I like the variety of interaction--not the same thing in each lesson
-the practical examples on file management were really good
-in Lesson 3, Maria's Implementation Plan doesn't have tasks under several areas--is that deliberate or is it just not finished yet?
-The review quiz has some confusing choices, especially in Question 1 and 3. I thought it might make some teachers frustrated. On the other hand, I think that it helps for teachers to get something incorrect because then they read about the reasoning behind the correct choices.
From the table in the back...
Great module that many teachers can benefit from!!
Here are some specific problems that we found.
pbl_m5_l1_a3_03.swf - Text is not clear and multiple lines on top of each other
pbl_m5_l3_a1_02.swf - Directions 1 & 2 should be switched.
pbl_m5_l2_a2_02.swr - In the directions that state, "read the mini-lesson", should it say listen instead? The word "Shape" is missing from Maria's speech bubble.
pbl_m5_l2_a2_04.swf and others = sub skills is not consistent through out the module. "Subskills" "sub-skill"
pbl_m5_l4_a1_05.swf - The journal starts off as a student reflection. In the middle of the page the information changes and is written from the teacher's perspective. The teacher's reflection is also found on the following screen.
In general, you can not easily get back to the activity directions following the dialogue. A link back to the directions would be helpful.
I like the idea of having the "Your Turns" on a separate page after the lesson. It makes the activity stand out more, so that people don't skip over it.
The narration at the beginning probably isn't necessary. I like having narration during the discussions between the two teachers and the students.
I like the idea of being able to collapse and expand the menus to keep the screen from being too cluttered.
I like having the lesson number and name at the top of the screen. It's easier to keep track of where you are - in case you need to stop the course and come back to it later.
One suggestion is to make the blue writing a darker shade of blue. Some people at our table felt like it was too light against the white background.
WOW- is all I can say! This is exactly what our WI teachers need. This will assist their efforts of become self-directed learners and to provide the appropiate content foundation of PBL, 21st century skills and authentic assessment. Would it be possible to offer the Word documents in a template form so teachers can save the master and make edits as needed to personalize/cutomize the tools for their immediate use with students?
I was missing to learn from an interactive video clip- here and there- to support the content deliver and to add variety to the PBL course. Perhaps case studies/research studies of brief video clips from actual teachers in the trenches to showcase what works and what does not work with implementing a PBL approach.
How about also a supportive podcast or two- to add a differentiated tool to assist our intermediate and advance usrs of this course, so they can sync the module(s) podcast with their cell phone or media player to make it 24/7 and highly mobile?
Out teachers in our area are struggling to understand what 21st century teaching and learning truly is. I beleive a foundation video/podcast of some sort could provide the ground work necessary to make meaningful connections and background knowledge with the Elements PBL course.
Just my thoughts.....
I like the "your turn"
I like the audio and the option for more audio would be helpful - witht he option to turn it off if not wanted.
In Module 5 lesson 4 activity 1 "Reflection Discussion" the mouse icon appears after the introductory dialog allowing you to hear more dialog however in Module 2 lesson 2 Activity 2, the mouse icon appears at the beginning of the introductory dialog and if you click on Abe to hear his dialog, the two dialogs play simultaneously. Either the mouse needs to appear later or clicking on Abe should end the previous dialog.
Is it necessary to have "Your Turns" on your own screen? Do you get lost without this navigation?
In our table we spoke about the "You Turns" section and felt that as long as it was consistently displayed on the screen instructions, that it would be fine either way. On some screens it was shown on the numbered instructions and in some it was not - when we went back into the Action Plan at the end of Module 4, we noticed we had missed some sections. The font size on the "Your Turns" could be a bit larger as well.
In addition, we were wondering if there was a way to allow input into the Action Plan the way the Moodle environment allows you to save your work online. This may be possible with an LMS but we were not sure.
Screen titles on dialogue boxes - do you find them distracting? Are they okay or should they be removed?
Screen titles were not distracting to us, however, if you click on the dialogue when the narration is going on, you hear both the narrator and either Maria or Abe. That is distracting.
Is the narration introducing the dialogue important? Why or why not?
We think the narration may be helpful for some people. If people prefer no audio, they can mute the volume. It will help auditory learners.
What do you think about the menus opening in an expanded format vs collapsed (menu, Action Plan, Resources)
We like the expanded menu, it elminates a click.
In Module 4, in the sample timeline there should be more ideas in the teacher column, which is mostly blank, to provide teachers with strategies for teachers as facilitators as opposed to teachers as instructors.
The student project plan is overwhelming. It might scare teachers away from PBL. We like the case studies and examples that were made available for download.
As a self-paced course, we feel that since feedback is very important, it might not work well. However, as a facilitated course, we like the flexibility of including the modules (which as SCORM compliant) into an LMS like Moodle, Blackboard or Sakai.
We also thought the Elements modules would work well in a new teacher training in a district, or run as a collegial circle.
In the Resources Section, it might be less confusing to have headings for Discussions vs Activities vs Case Studies. The Resources are shown by Module but not by type.
Would love Apple to have FLASH based content on their iPhone! It would be great to be able to see the modules on ALL mobile devices.
Wording: Probe student thinking to higher levels – grammar??? (Reference: pbl_m5_l1_a2_03.swf)
Double text display occurs when clicking on Maria. (Reference: pbl_m5_l1_a3_03.swf)
Narrator repeats the text and Maria’s text is not heard.
Audio and text do not match in first sentence of second text section (Reference: pbl_m5_l2_a2_02.swf)
All links on prior pages change color and underline when hovered over. Links in 1, 2, and 3 do not show underline when hovered over, only change color. When chosen, the link is then underlined. (Reference: pbl_m5_l3_a1_01.swf)
General Comments: When the narrator is speaking, and you click on Maria or Abe, both voices are heard.
Dialogue is an important support – there are auditory learners as adults. Perhaps having all of the text narrated that could be chosen as an option.
Perhaps the dropdown menu for the Action Plan could be actual links back to the files /activities rather than the just a checklist. You did this in the menu, but it would be good here too.
When the narrator is speaking, and you click on Maria or Abe, both voices are heard.
Move the Action Plan to the top of the list since it is the first document.
The mini-lesson suggestion is such a powerful tool, those teachable moments.