Final Post

What worked?
Overall, everything went well. I really appreciate the fact that we began building our courses early in the program and we able to construct and refine it as we learned and progressed. This allowed me to experiment with content, course structure and tools over time, receive feedback, rethink and refine everything, and come out with a much better course than I started with. This also helped me determine which parts of the f2f CRESST Academy would be translated into an online format. All of these things were particularly helpful in the development of the Ethics in Research section. I knew that I wanted to include the Henrietta Lacks material and discussion, but I had difficulty envisioning how this would work. It was one of the 1st units I began planning and change greatly (and for the better) throughout the program. The suggestions from the instructors and classmates helped me streamline this material so that it would work in the shortened course timeframe.
I also had a nearly perfect group for my 1st class, it was a little small for some of the discussion, but most of the teachers participated with enthusiasm and really engaged on the topics. They were also enthusiastic about the lessons and the material, which made the class fun to teach. The feedback that I received from the participants indicated that they felt positive about the course as well.

“I really enjoyed learning about something that I was not very familiar with in a hands-on engaged way. I looked forward to the assignments and what I would learn from them.”
“The way the learning was scaffolded. I was able to develop the skills needed to engage students in an investigational study.”

What did not work?
I had originally envisioned CRESST Online as a full, 3-credit, 15-week course. Several realities convinced me to shorten it to 9 weeks. In shortening the course, I feel that I lost some of the “teacher application” direction and reflection of the original program. I am fairly happy with how I was able to incorporate the various content of CRESST was included in the course, but I feel that I did not ask the teachers to reflect enough on how they could use the concepts and activities in their classes. While several of the teachers indicated that they either had used or were planning to use some of the material with their students.

“I have already put my learning to use by teaching an Introduction to Clinical Research as a science enrichment class.”
“I will expand an existing unit to include a research study. Students will be more involved in the process.”
“It sparked new ideas in methodology and information to present to my students.”
But I do not feel that I had presented this portion of the class in as organized fashion or with as much emphasis as I could have. One of the teachers stated:
“I would like more examples of ways to incorporate clinical research trials into the health class classroom. Creating your own research trial and submitting it to the class to get feedback on it would also be helpful.”

This is the main area that I think needs improvement. However, I also feel that the way I structured the last unit could be improved. In an effort to introduce a greater variety in instructional tools and methods, I used Padlet to introduce the lesson and present the material. I also used asked the teachers to use share their ideas. While I think the part of the lesson worked, I feel that the Padlet introduction was awkward and contrived.

How can you fix this?
In the current version of the online course, the teachers were asked to adapt a CRESST lesson (that includes a planning and conduction a small-scale research project) for use in their class. When I offer again, I plan to extend the course by 1 week, which will allow time for the class to peer-review each other’s lessons. This will also extend the class to 45 hours, which may be helpful for recertification. I will also rewrite the assignment to place a greater emphasis on reflection related to using the activities and materials with their students.
In the final unit, I will use the same set-up that is used for all of the other units. I will also use the Google Group for the discussion and reflection rather then ask them to post files to Padlet. I think that this will help by using familiar tools to encourage discussion and peer-feedback. I will continue to use in the brainstorming portion of the activity.

How did this experience affect you as an online instructor?
Teaching this course improved my confidence as an online course developer and instructor. Previously, I had not been satisfied my either the design of my hybrid classes or my skills as course moderator. The success of this class has helped me improve both my class design and moderation skills. I still have areas in which I need to improve, particularly discussion group moderation, but I feel that my course design skills are greatly improved.

What did you learn in the program that assisted you?
One of the most beneficial parts of this program was the opportunity to work with instructors who modeled best practices and engaged us with an excellent variety of tools for online teaching. By having the opportunity to experience excellent online instruction as a participant, I was able to translate that into my own development and instruction. As a bit of a geek, I really enjoyed learning about the great variety of tools available for online learning, but I also learned that more is not always better.
What more would you desire in this program?
In general, I felt that this class and this program are well-conceived and well-presented. Looking back over the last year and a half, I can see my incremental growth in skills and confidence. Considering the wide-array of subjects taught and goals for each of the participants, all of the instructors did a good job of tailoring the classes to our needs. The few suggestions that I do have relate to the first class and the sequence of classes.
For a variety of reasons, the 1st class seemed a little disjointed to me. Some of these issues were beyond the control of the instructors, but others might be resolved by providing more complete introductory materials. I am a firm believer in trying to anticipate things that can cause anxiety or puzzlement for program participants and trying to address them in advance.
Related to the sequence of the courses, I think that the Content Focus Workshop should be offered earlier in the sequence. By the last semester, most of us had completed our course design and we involved in teaching. If we have completed the Content Focus Workshop earlier, I feel that I could have done a better job of incorporating material and concepts from that course into my course.
Finally, I would like to have more exposure to a greater variety assessment and evaluation techniques. In order to make the CRESST Online class sustainable past the life of the grant, it would be helpful to find ways to incorporate more self-assessment.

What in theory did not go well in practice? Why do you think that is?
As I mentioned about, the sequencing of some of the course could be improved. For example I think that the last semester should only include one class. I found having two classes to prepare for during the first weeks of my own class, a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, this was also an extremely busy time in my job, so the first few weeks of this semester were a bit rough.


I think that for some people and some, limited, situations self-paced courses could be valuable. If a person is very disciplined and self-motivated, a self-paced course can allow the participant to complete a course effectively. If the participant is more like me, a self-paced course would not be as effective. I do better with deadlines.
Also, if the course is trying to foster dialog or teamwork among the participants, I don’t think that a self-paced course would be effective. The participants would be working on assignments at different times and there would be little opportunity for peer feedback or collaboration. If the intent of the course is for each individual to complete a prescribed set of tasks to meet a set goal this could be fine. For example, the online child abuse reporting course that I had to take for licensure accomplished its goals satisfactorily.
It seems to me that the facilitator for a self-paced course would be more of an individual tutor than in a more collaborative course. The facilitator would need to tailor their interactions to each individual based on where they were in the class rather than encouraging group discussions and sharing.
If there is no facilitator, I think that whether it is actually a course depends on the structure and length of the experience. I would class most of the unfacilitated “courses” that I have taken as trainings rather than courses. I tend to feel that a course should be a longer and more in-depth learning experience than most of the self-paced trainings that I have taken.


CRESST PD Evaluation

The CRESST evaluator sent me the open-ended comments from the  PD’s post-survey. I was really pleased with the overall feedback.

He has not done the Pre-Post analysis of the other questions yet, but with such a small sample, I’m not sure what type of data we will get.

If you are interested, here are the responses to the open-ended questions:

1) What did you find most valuable about CRESST Online professional development?

I really enjoyed learning about something that I was not very familiar with in a hands-on engaged way. I looked forward to the assignments and what I would learn from them.

Exposure to excellent resources in clinical research that can be used in the class.
I really enjoyed the stimulation and creating a lesson plan to include the CRESST activity.

The way the learning was scaffolded. I was able to develop the skills needed to engage students in an investigational study.

It offered me practical information that will improve my teaching.

2) How do you think your participation in CRESST Online professional development will influence your teaching?

I have already put my learning to use by teaching an Introduction to Clinical Research as a science enrichment class.

Incorporate clinical research concepts into scientific methodology unit and have students complete a mini research project using those concepts

I would like to incorporate some of the activities that we did or discussed into my health classroom.

I will expand an existing unit to include a research study. Students will be more involved in the process.

It sparked new ideas in methodology and information to present to my students.

It will open my mind to the incorporation of more research topics in my class.

3) How did participation in CRESST Online professional development impact you personally?

I have learned a tremendous amount about what Clinical Research is and the steps that one must go through before beginning a clinical research trial. The ethics and the history behind them was very enlightening, though a little disturbing.

Reminded me of the mistakes of the past and the importance of sound, ethical science.

It has make me realize how beneficial hands on activities are to engage learning. I also never realized how clinical research trials could be used in a middle school setting.

I was amazed by the Hela story. The gain in medical science from the cells was amazing but that I knew nothing about it was even more surprising. The question of ethics made me acutely aware that our technology is far ahead of our ethics.

I discovered some fascinating information about clinical trials and the ethical practices throughout history.

I was made more aware of issues that I had no idea about.

4) How has (or will) this professional development influenced your use of inquiry in your teaching?

I would like to try to plan more inquiry lessons for next year ad I have learned my curriculum this year.

I will be more cognizant of teaching ethical methodology and incorporate those standards into student-led research

I think it is important for student learning. I would like to use activities similar to those used in this class to promote critical thinking and problem solving. Students would also benefit from working together in groups to achieve a goal.

I usually ask students to collect data but I haven’t been as good at asking them to analyze it and draw conclusions. I will definitely do more data analysis.

I feel it has opened up a new method of presenting information to my classes.

I will include more research based activities.

5) How has (or will) this professional development influenced your opinions about clinical research?

My opinions of clinical research have improved since this professional development. I see the importance of research now more so than I did before the class.

I have increased my awareness of the methodology and checks involved which has improved my impressions of clinical research

Before this class, I did not really think about clinical research. Now I am more aware of the process and how conducting these research studies can be done in my classroom. I now see the benefits of using this type of teaching strategy.

I am very supportive of clinical research and would participate in a trial, if appropriate.

It has made me consider the ethical practices of the research.

It made me more aware of some of the ethical issues surrounding clinical research.

6) What one part of CRESST Online professional development would you keep?

The online aspect and the pacing of the professional development was great. I really appreciated knowing what was around the corner so I could plan accordingly.

good all around pd.

I would keep the stimulation activities and the book.

I loved the clinical trial simulations.

The reading assignments.

7) What would you change about CRESST Online professional development? (ex: content, pace, depth, activities, scheduling)

I would have liked a little more background on the current recommended daily allowances of different foods.

well paced and content was good. A few more participants would have been better for idea exchange

I would like more examples of ways to incorporate clinical research trials into the health class classroom. Creating your own research trial and submitting it to the class to get feedback on it, would also be helpful.

I thought it was very well planned and delivered. I really enjoyed every activity.

I would not change anything.

Having completed my masters degree online, I felt that the format was a little confusing and hard to follow.

8) What suggestions do you have for topics and/or activities of future CRESST Online professional developments?

I cannot think of any at this time.

incorporating clinical research and other science topics into cross-curricular learning.

Social health- Bullying, cyberbullying Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco

Concussion research in athletics and the equipment and other steps to decrease the risks.

Create a clearer, easier to follow format.

9) Would you recommend CRESST Online professional development to other teachers? Please let us know why you chose No.

All Yes

10) Are the topics of clinical research, inquiry, childhood health and wellness areas you would like to continue to explore as part of your professional development?

All Yes

11) What would you like to learn more about?

After introducing clinical research to students, several were interested in the steps that they could take to start to lose some weight and get more healthy. I would like to learn more strategies to be able to help my students.

How to encourage/motivate students to make informed, healthful choices that become lifelong habits.

connecting movement to learning – kinesthetic opportunities to learn concepts, as opposed to jumping jacks at the desk.

The ever changing information concerning nutrition.

The effects of behavioral medications on academic performance


Chapter Review

Given the length restriction, what are your opinions on what we included and what we left out?
As an introductory chapter, I think that you provided a nice overview. You present a nice progression showing the evolution of distance learning. I was fascinated to learn that online learning began in Europe with the United States being a relative late adopter.
I know that there is nothing you can do about it, but I sometimes find the way APA structures citations distracting. I had to read the 1st paragraph several times to follow the flow of the information and sort out which dates related to the historical background and which dates were publication dates.
One question – is affordance a word that your audience will be familiar with? It is a relatively uncommon word for most people.
Again, considering the length restrictions, I think that you included a great deal of information. If there was room, I think a little more explanation of some of the learning theories could be helpful. I would also include a description of SAMR in addition to TPACK.

Did you learn anything you consider helpful from this chapter? What?
I appreciated the discussion of Best Practices. It was nice to have such a concise description, particularly since I am going to have to write a short paragraph relating the CRESST Online PD to Best Practice for the CRESST funder. I is great to have such succinct description on which to base my comments . 
I was not familiar with the various learning theories related to online learning. I found that section very informative and helpful.
The theory of self-regulated learning may be new to some of you. Do you feel this could have important implications for online learning? Why or why not? Do you believe this idea is important enough to mention in an overview of distance education?
I do feel that the theory of self-regulated learning is important and should be included. If I interpreted this correctly, this theory helps to explain why dome people succeed in online learning and why others don’t. It also provides some explanations of why MOOCS have such large attrition rates. With the push to expand online learning opportunities and requirements at all levels of education, we need to understand how to support out learners. I think the information related to self-regulated learning helps course designers and teachers to find the balance in independence and interaction to meet the need of their learners.

If you had to add one more topic what would it be? If you had to get rid of one topic, what would it be?
As I mentioned above, I think that discussing SAMR in addition to TPACK would be helpful. When we learned about these in this program, I found the “compare and contrast” between the two models helpful.
I really can’t identify any topic to leave out. Sorry.

In general, is this chapter useful for people who are interested in developing online programs?
Yes – it provides good background and foundational material. I think that the Current Trends section, in particular, will be useful in course development. As I mentioned above, this information can help developers balance the needs of the learner with the level of support and interaction that the instructor can provide and encourage.

Week 12

I am continuing to work on the CRESST Curriculum and learning a lot about InDesign. This week I was relived to figure out how to import Word tables without losing all of the formatting. I realize that this doesn’t directly relate to this class, but moving forward it may help me create better handouts for online classes.
I’m still research digital badges, but am still not sure how or if I will use them. I know that some school systems are looking it to using them with students, particularly in CTE classes, but I’m not sure how they will work for teachers. I’ll keep you posted.

Week 10

This week was also spent working on the CRESST Curriculum. Now that my class is done, I am continuing my research into digital badges. I am also hoping to be able to offer the CRESST Online PD again next fall. That will depend on funding though.

CRESST was supported by an NIH SEPA grant, which is ending. The stipend and supplies for the class were provided by the grant. I doubt that there will be fund for either of these next year. Do you think that recertification point is enough of an enticement to for teachers to participate?

Week 9

I’m playing catch-up again. Not directly related to mu online course, but as a major part of the CRESST Project, we are producing a curriculum for the project. We have been working on this for the five years, but we are now doing the final edits.  This is a major time commitment and has taken most of my time, both at work and in the evenings.  Not only am I the primary editor, I am also doing the formatting and layout.  I really enjoy this, but we are using InDesign for the layout and I don’t use it often enough to be completely proficient. I am please with the nearly finished product though.

We are creating an online version and doing a limited print run.  I have a question for the group about this:

In the online version, would it be better to upload the complete curriculum PDF, bookmarked and indexed or should I separate the curriculum into files for each chapter and upload them individually?

Week 11

My class is completely wrapped. All of the final assignments have been commented on and returned, and the final paperwork has been completed.
I spoke with Monty about digital badges and he gave me a lot of good information and a contact at VCU with whom to follow up.
For those of you who have asked about digital badges, it seems that there is no easy answer. Mozilla OpenBadges seems to be a good system, but I haven’t had much luck in creating the more customized badge I want for my class. There does not seem to be consensus on a standard system yet. VCU has set up a digital badge system as part of the Center for Teacher Leadership and Monty has suggested that I talk to them. I’ll let you know what I find out.
Since Digital Badges are relatively new, do you think that teachers would be interested in earning them? Do you think that they will eventually become a commonplace for teachers as well as students?

Just the feedback and paperwork to go

This is the last week. The assignment for this week is to create a lesson plan using one of the CRESST activities that we highlighted in the course. It is due this weekend, though 1 teacher has asked for an extension due to a family emergency. The group has turned in the paperwork for the program stipend and the link to the post-survey has been emailed to them. The stipends will be paid to each participant when the assignment is turned in and the survey is completed. So far the casual feedback has been positive. I look forward to seeing the data from the post survey.
I have gotten some great suggestions to find information about Digital Badges and have been researching how they have been used with teacher professional development. I am considering providing a digital badge in addition to a certificate of completion. Most of my group are taking the PD of recertification points as well as the stipend.

One Week to Go . . .

This has been a quiet week, my group is working independently on this week’s unit and no assignments are due until tomorrow. This unit also uses and Padlet to collect ideas for research questions, so it is a different experience for all of us. Several of my “early birds” have posted already, so it seems to be working ok.
I have begun to work on the wrap-up material for the course, payment paperwork, completion certificates and the post-survey. And I was able to catch up on my participation in the discussion boards.
Right now, I don’t have any questions and thinks are still going well. Next week, I will be providing feedback on the teachers’ lesson plans as they are submitted. Their final task will be to complete the post survey. Once that is completed, they will receive the stipend.

CRESST Project Coordinator, Virginia Commonwealth University

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