Many thanks to Tony Burman for his rendition of the classic Coca-Cola theme from my childhood- I remember Tony mentioning integrating these kinds of “commercial breaks” or pauses into both his onsite and online courses. I tried that this semester in my onsite class- I put up some memes about essay writing in my ENGL 100 class and students really got a kick out of them- so to keep it student centered, I had them work in groups to develop their own memes about the day’s reading which they then posted on a discussion thread on our course Canvas page. It was super fun and the students were definitely engaged, working to make decisions both about which meme template to use, and also about how to best represent core ideas from the text.
This also ties into Warnock’s focus on “chunking” in the OWS. In my nascent planning for my first online course, and admiring curry’s ability to parcel out information in an accessible and digestible manner, Warnock, in his citation of Smith, reinforces the importance of chunking in the online course: ” ‘Content presented in one long segment is much less effective for learning than the same content broken down into several smaller segments’ ” (31). As I consider this advice, I think I will keep a weekly schedule at the forefront of student’s access points to the course, that is, do it much like curry does for WwM- each week will be “live” as the week arrives- on Sundays or Mondays. Students will then access the week’s work as it comes up. For longer projects (essays), students will get reminders and can consult the syllabus for dates.
Also, Tony’s modeling of how to import onsite strategies for student-centered content really seemed to be a useful and viable path for getting students engaged with the daily/ weekly work. I could see using Google Docs and Discussion threads to start to activate their ideas about readings- using columns on the Google doc to chart connections between challenging texts- and then opening up a discussion thread for students to respond to one another and ask questions.
Interestingly, in Chapter 4, Warnock brings up a lot of compelling options/ suggestions but then seems to kind of move on without developing the category much. In the Games and Simulations section, he suggests, “Part of our class ‘workshop’ could involve, at some point, offering and perhaps taking part in these kinds of games with our students” (35). I would’ve like to have him expand on this more, why would this be a useful or compelling modality for getting students more actively engaged. I guess it’s time for me to do further research. Also, I know a lot of the WwM peeps are using games as a way to initiate class activities and discussion- how would this look in an online course?