Monday, March 9, 2015

Why Curriculum Development for Online Classes Is So Hard/Complicated

A friend asked a group of us why we thought curriculum development was hard--or why it takes so much time, so therefore, we don't feel like it's worth the pay.
I've been thinking about this, and in case it's helpful, I thought I'd offer these thoughts.  For me, I've been teaching the materials so long, in the case of English Comp and Lit classes, that I can lecture without notes.  So creating curriculum isn't as easy as just transposing my teaching notes.

And then there's the issue of creating curriculum that's outside of my usual realm of teaching.  The main curriculum development that I've done was for a Humanities class, a class that combined art appreciation, history, religion, philosophy, and literature. 
When I created that curriculum, I had to condense the material into the most pertinent details and facts.  Since the course covers many centuries and the whole globe, it took much longer than I anticipated.  Again, it would take less time from curriculum development to just go in and teach, without the benefit of notes.  I'm good at extemporaneous speaking, and if I had to, I could refer to the book.  But having to create the Powerpoint slides took many more hours than I anticipated.
When I teach at some schools, I'm impressed with how many extra materials there are, in addition to the informational slides.  Someone did a lot of work to put those course shells together.  They may have gotten release time to do it--I'm still not sure it would be worth it to me, even if I was full-time faculty.
In the future, as more onground teachers use eCompanion and Blackboard and develop materials for those sites, perhaps migrating them into an online platform won't seem quite as onerous as it does now.  At this point, I don't have those resources readily digitized.

And textbook companies aren't stupid.  I suspect that many of the materials that impress me at other schools come from textbook companies, not individual faculty members.

I should have bought stock in Pearson.  Sigh.

I do wonder how long these online teaching opportunities will exist.  I can envision a day when it's all much more automated.  But for now, I'm enjoying the teaching more than I thought I would.  And I'm looking forward to seeing how curriculum development for those classes changes through the years.

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