The Educational Technology Dept. at UH Manoa requires that all Masters in Education students spend their final year planning, implementing, and evaluating an educational project. Most students choose to design either an instructional module that teaches a skill or an action research project that (hopefully) improves instruction. I chose a project from the third, less common category: usability testing.
My capstone project came about through my work at Technology and Distance Programs in the College of Education. I work with a number of faculty who teach courses both online and face-to-face, assisting them with various tools and techniques to make their courses better. If there’s one thing that these instructors appreciate most, it’s learning how to connect with their students in online courses.
Teaching online presents interesting challenges for teachers.
Have you ever taken an online course? Was it run well? What issues did you have? What did you gain from it? While online courses may never fully replace face-to-face courses, the number of universities that offer distance programs is growing quickly. It’s safe to say that most teachers in higher education who plan on working for the next ten years already have, or will at some point teach a course online. But how does teaching online differ from face-to-face instruction?
Enter my resource website.
I’ve spent the last few months collecting resources in the form of methods, techniques, and tools that aid in online instruction. With the help of my colleagues and advisors, I’ve planned out and am beginning to build a website meant to help instructors at my school teach online more effectively. My capstone project will be the thorough usability testing of the site by instructors in the College of Education that will be using it. Needless to say, I’m very excited.
Here’s a mockup of the homepage with the simple 1-2-3 (Plan-Build-Teach) organization that will be built out into the entire site:
Although it’s not nearly finalized, the basic layout of the homepage is present in this mockup.
Reflecting on the process at this point…
It’s hard to explain the process of designing a website for a specific audience, but it did help that a great deal of the content had already been gathered when the project came about. The organization of the content was the most important aspect, on which I focused almost entirely. We (my advisors and myself) want to build a site that instructors could go to and get a realistic idea of the online teaching process and ways to improve their online courses. I think we’re headed in the right direction.
It’s still a long way to go, but I’m knee-deep in Adobe Illustrator and a self-hosted installation of WordPress, on which the site will be built. I’m excited to be at this stage and am eager to see how the project progresses and is ultimately made available to our faculty.
Comments and questions are welcome!