I love text. Love it. Love to read it. Love it so much that my bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in English literature. Love it so much that when I give presentations, I spend ages trying to select the most appropriate font to express my meaning. Love it so much that I write books (my husband calls writing academic books my hobby…I really need to get a hobby). I could go on, but I won’t. In short, I’m really into text…
Except when I’m not. I think about how I approach Web-based stuff. Although I truly love reading, I don’t want to read a bunch of stuff online. Perhaps the technology is just not “there” yet or perhaps it’s just me, but I feel like seeing too much text online just drags me down. I don’t want to have to look at a lot of bullet points. I don’t want to see lines and lines of links, sitting there waiting for me to click on them….
Rather, online I want mutlimodality; I want pictures and sounds and words. I want those pictures and words and sounds to have an easy and comfortable coexistence. I want them to relate and interrelate and make my online experience an easy, informative, and visually-appealing one.
I think that multimodality is something I want to translate into my online teaching as well. (It’s occuring to me at the moment that it would be nice to work on it in my blogging! I’ll have to do that sometime). So I’m thinking about the online course design process and my next online course and how I would very much like to avoid designing a primarily text-driven course. The question is how to go about that. Todd Conaway’s post, in which he describes asking teachers to draw their courses, resonated with me. Seems like drawing is actually a good way to go, and I have done drawing and storyboarding when designing an online course before with good success. So in theory, I am planning to start the design of my next course by storyboarding….
In practice, I’ve got couple of issues to contend with. As it turns out, the course I’ll be teaching next term is Reading Research in Higher Education. This is a course, as the title suggests, in which students learn to read social science research studies related to higher/postsecondary education. They also learn to write about these studies, as in a literature review. In sum, then, it is a course about texts which involves producing text.
The other issue is that, if I teach more than half of the course online, I am pretty well required to use Blackboard. I have not used this LMS before (I have used WebCT and eLearning), but on a quick glance, it appears to me to be fairly text-oriented. I’m sure that there are opportunities to upload videos and include images and such, and I’m guessing that there’s a way to work with it so that the course layout doesn’t appear to be so text-y, but on a first look, pretty much what I see is text.
So here is how I am set up for next term:
- As a person who is enamoured with text;
- As a designer working in Blackboard, text driven as it appears to be;
- As a teacher who is to help students learn how to read and write about a certain type of text.
Storyboarding this as a fairly mutlimodal class should be a really interesting exercize. I believe that I have some hard work, and creative thinking, ahead of me!