Earlier in the term I discussed the idea of using Web-Based Courses and some of the benefits of using them. Since then I have spent some time exploring the Web-Based Courses offered through Manitoba Education using the online Blackboard Learning System. There are a large variety of courses offered including Applied, Consumer, and PreCalc Math, Physics, Biology, Science, Digital Pictures, Drafting, Computer Science, Agriculture, ELA, French, Social Studies, and Physical Education/Health Education, to highlight the main ones. Not every course is offered at every grade, it varies. Now of this list of courses the one that I personally find most interesting is the PE/HE course (probably because I have a PE background!). So I began exploring the Web-Based Course for Grade 12 PE/HE.
To assist students with becoming familiar with the Blackboard Learning System, there is an online orientation complete with screen shots to explain the different tools to students. I think it would be important to have your students complete this orientation so that they do become familiar and comfortable with the system.
The course itself is nicely broken down into its modules, as per outlined in the curriculum, and from there manageably broken down into lessons for students. I can honestly say I am surprised at how the course really only uses writing to convey information to the students. I was somewhat expecting that there would at least be links to valuable videos or presentations, or videos or podcasts embedded within the course to give it some variety for students. I feel that a student who does not excel at learning through reading and writing, would find this web-based course particularly challenging.
I was also surprised at how little interaction there is within the course. I do realize that I was just demoing it, and that a student actually taking one of these courses would still have an instructor, so I suppose that may make it more interactive.
Something to keep in mind I guess is that the PE/HE Web-Based Course is really for the health side of the course. Students are required to do and record a certain amount of hours of physical activity on their own as well.
I did like how none of the assignments were posted. Obviously done for several reasons, but I think it is beneficial for students so as not to overwhelm them with all their assignments at once. Posting them as they come up would make the course more realistic and manageable for the students.
Overall I like the set-up of the course, very straightforward and easy to follow. I would most likely use this as an additional resource in prepping for my own lessons. I am not sure that I would have my students use it, given the choice; I just feel they would not find it interactive or stimulating enough. However I would like to see the course develop to become more interactive and dynamic for students. With all the resources and tools available on the web, I think that with some creative thinking and time (and probably some funding…) that this could be successfully done.