In other news, I’ve been working on my WebCT course. In case you’re unfamiliar with WebCT, it’s an industry-leading Academic Enterprise System (AES) built on an enterprise technology foundation to support mission-critical e-learning … oh, excuse me, that’s the official description. Really, it’s a very clunky content-management system that allows teachers to put courses online in only triple the length of time that it would take to do it with Adobe or Google products.
On the right you can see some examples of what WebCT courses normally look like.
Mine. below left, is somewhat jazzier. However, it is not possible to put things where you want them to be, so mine are kind of 2003, while the typical one is more like 1999.
It is possible that my pages, constructed as they are by choosing colors and adding a graphic, all with drop-down menus offering very limited choices, are no more attractive or usable than the standard ones, but at least they show that I tried.
Also, since I forced the program to let me into the html, I was able to make the words behave. In 2008, I reached the point at which I can bend words to my will no matter what content management system I’m saddled with. Perhaps in 2009 I will reach this point with images and design elements.
In addition to clicking myriad little boxes and using stupid drop-down menus, I also sat down with #2 daughter to work on the book proposal.
For some reason, #2 daughter gets extremely cross whenever we try to do this. She reads out the name of the editor venomously and announces that our topic (which we chose) is stupid.
Also that the publisher and the books produced by the publisher are stupid.
Also, the software and the machine we’re using are stupid.
Fortunately, she really loves her Christmas gift whiteboard, and was able to work off some of the fury engendered by this project by writing on it with great energy and pointy-ness. She wasn’t using a bayonet to write on it, but she was able to give that impression.
It’s possible that trying to work when fueled only by holiday food is not a good plan.
However nice the cupcakes may be, they aren’t really food, are they? And the cheese and crackers and sausages and chips aren’t much better. A girl who has eaten nothing but simple carbohydrates and saturated fats for three days might be excused for losing her temper.
We may or may not try again today.
I will definitely be continuing with my web course, though. I have 25 students registered, and all of them can go look at the course right now. It is possible to lock them out. However, one of the examplary courses I looked at in the research phase of this project had students go hang out in the discussion room before school started, to get to know one another. I’m trying to do the same, since we were told in our training that feeling disconnected was the main reason people drop distance learning courses.
At the moment, there are only welcome pages and a list of assignments. The class begins on January 12th. between now and then, I need to produce all the content modules for 16 weeks of classes.
When you teach classes on the physical plane, you can get your materials together a week at a time.
You do your syllabus ahead, of course, and work out all the chapters you’ll be using and all, but you don’t actually have to write up all your lectures ahead of time. And you can bring stuff in to class with you on a given day, rather than having to link everything up. And all my cool lesson plans are hands-on anyway.
I also have to figure out how to arrange for peer feedback for the papers students will be turning in.
It gives me some sympathy with the designers of the example courses I’ve found, when they do things like link to Wikipedia in every lesson.
I’ve known that I needed to do this for a month now, I think, so I may not deserve to have good websites pointed out for me. I know that it takes me an hour or two to create a good online lesson plan every morning, so why I thought I could knock out a semester’s worth in between Christmas and New Year’s while eating pie and cake I don’t know.
Maybe I’ll go back to bed and read, and think about all this on Monday. I have housework and errands today, and that may be enough.
This kind of thinking is probably what led me to this point to begin with.
The song for today is “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright.,” a fairly clunky hymn suitable for Epiphany. The Bach harmony makes it wonderful.