Successful courses are those designed to work in collaboration with learners. Underlying the design of CDL course learning activities is the understanding that our students are adult students, and that it is essential that the activities engage them in meaningful ways. Following current research in the field of adult learning, (Wlodkowski, R. J. 1993), our activities are designed for adult learners who need to:
know why the learning is required;
direct their own pace/style of learning;
contribute their personal/professional/life experiences to the learning environment;
apply what they have learned to solve real-world problems, and
feel competent and experience success throughout the learning process.
For example, the Global Climate Change course engages students in a self-directed project called the “CO2 Calculator”. This activity requires students to directly observe their own daily routines, and then to assess how they might contribute to CO2 reduction by changing their daily behavior. This hands-on activity invites students to contribute to global energy conservation while also developing an individualized and very personal understanding of the effects of climate change.
Ever wonder why it is more difficult to remember long strings of information than shorter bits? For over 50 years, studies have suggested that our ability to accurately recall information is capped at about seven numbers or items (Miller, 1956) If we break up the information into little packets, or chunks, we are more capable of remembering greater amounts of information (Simon, 1974). For example, remembering a number such as 5138675309 is much easier when broken into chunks, i.e. 513-867-5309. More current research suggest that our limits may be closer to four chunks of information (Cohen, 2001).
When developing courses at CDL, the Curriculum and Instructional Design team strives to organize information to allow learners to easily access the information in a way that enables them to recall it better. Key to our course models, like the Hassenger and the Humanities Model, is organizing information in amounts that are easy to recall. For example, a quick overview to a given chapter or course module can act as a roadmap for students, and serve to reinforce their learning experience throughout.
Implicit within our courses is this type of underlying structure, or template, which encourages course organization into four to seven course modules, or chunks. This makes the content easier to access and recall and can assist or even improve learning. The Humanities course model also offers various modalities of presentation, so the learner can choose which presentation of the material best fits his or her learning style.
A moderated “Think Tank” is created for students to collaborate and support one another as they plan, research and formulate a research project while taking the Nursing Research course at CDL. Students work collaboratively in Diigo to create a shared online reference repository, and their final research projects are “showcased” in a student gallery and peer-reviewed. It is hoped that students will feel some ownership for their peer’s projects when they have collaborated in the “think tank” and worked together in the shared reference assignment.
Through the use of interactive maps, students gain a better understanding of the Francophone world as part of their work in the foreign language course, French 2. This highly interactive learning activity provides a geographic and demographic view of French language and culture throughout the world.
Students select to explore various regions that are highlighted on the map in order to identify historically and culturally significant events, places and people, and examine how they influence and represent the evolution and use of the French language.