Practicum Overview

For my practicum in the Digital Education Leadership (DEL) program at Seattle Pacific University, I decided to revamp an online course that is used where I currently work, to onboard new student employees.  In my current role, I supervise 9-13  student employees who provide phone, walk-in, and email technical support to the broader campus community.

The course I have worked on this quarter was created by my position’s predecessor.  I decided that I would apply the course building expertise I developed during my time as Associate Director of Educational Technology & Media (ETM) and general perspectives from working in ETM and as a former student employee in my area, as well as the work I have completed on the ISTE Standards for Coaches as part of the DEL program, to the course. 

Practicum Timeline

Before getting started on the course, I made a timeline that would help me determine what steps I would need to do to revamp the course as well as how long each step would take. 

I was under the impression, that the course had a lot of content because it was already being used for onboarding, so my plan was made based on the fact that I would only be formatting the course for better organization and alignment of content.

Date

Phase

Title

Notes

April 15

1

Module Planning

Review current course modules and create module order list

April 30

2

Create a Course Map

Use template to create a course map, this will help with alignment and ensure the formative assessments and activities are active and support the goals of the course

April 30

3

Create course Structure

In Canvas, create the structure necessary for the course

May 20

4

Input course content

Input content and videos into appropriate places, including links to supported resources

May 31

5

Implement Assessments

Adjust assessments and add new ones as appropriate to support he content

June 7

6

OSCQR or QM Rubric

Review the course to make sure it adheres to online course design standards.

I created this plan based on my experience working with faculty to develop an online data analytics program for one of our colleges.  In those interactions, faculty would have content that they would develop or put together for teaching online and I would format the content in the Learning Management System.  Fortunately, we had a template that helped trim down some of the time it would take to build a course.  Even with those pieces though, it would still take 22-27 hours for me to run through the phases above.

I chose to add an OSCQR or QM Rubric course review not just because they were ensure we were adhering to online course design standards, but because I was most familiar with these rubrics.  You can see in some of my blog posts, like On Assessing Diversity, that I take and adapt the OSCQR Rubric to find a way to assess whether or not a course is diverse.

Practicum Work 

After developing my timeline, I began working on the phases, starting with Module planning.  The first step was finding out what modules existed and then build a module flow that combined the existing modules with what I had previously used for onboarding technicians when I worked in CIS nearly 6 years ago. It was important to me that the modules have natural flow and build upon previous module information.  I also tried to incorporate feedback from other recent hires and colleagues on my team to see if the new order made sense.
 
In my interview and meetings before returning to my team, it was clear that the onboarding course was something my new supervisor was concerned about.  We had multiple meetings discussing concerns and goals, so I also had some ideas of what should be covered before I started work on the course.
 
Below you can see the list of modules and the topics that are covered.

Current Modules/Topics

  • Technician Responsibilities
    • Welcome, Dept Info, Policies, Workflow, etc.
  • Technician Resources
    • Tools (software and hardware) used at work 
  • User Account Management
    • How we support account issues
  • Basic Troubleshooting Procedures
    • Typical Day, taking notes, using resources to find answers, etc.
  • Application of Training
    • Work on example tickets

Proposed Modules

  • Getting Started
    • About the HD Manager, Hiring Papwork & Info
  • Introduction to Dept. & Responsibilities
    • Customer Service & Operations
  • Tools
    • Technologies used to support work
  • Areas of Support
    • Overview of each area (matches topics found on website)
  • Basic Troubleshooting
    • Methodologies, hand-off procedures, information literacy (finding quality resources)
  • Next Steps
    • Job shadowing and more

Course Map

After developing the modules and having an idea of the general structure of the course, I decided to then work on the Course Map and do backwards design using a template that ETM uses. It’s a table, that helps instructors map learning outcomes, assessment methods, learning/practice activities, and content delivery/exploration methods together. 

After skimming through the modules and existing content, I came up with the following course objectives, new technicians will be able to:

  • Create & resolve tickets, answer phones, and help walk-ins with basic issues.
  • Identify issues that should be escalated and move tickets through the escalation process
  • Articulate and implement skills that provide excellent customer service

I then created module objectives, so I could ensure the content, activities, and assessments supported the objectives. I used the SMART framework to help create my goals.  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This would also help ensure that new hires were clear on the purpose of the course and feel like the course made sense and supported them on their onboarding journey.

Here are some of my example objectives (not in order):

  • By the end of this module, students will know how to complete the paperwork necessary to work on campus and the requirements for maintaining an on-campus position.
  • By the end of this module, new hires will be able to identify technician responsibilities and their role in relation so what the IT department does at SPU.
  • By the end of this module, technicians will be able to identify key strategies that will help them diagnose and resolve technical issues.

In addition to paying special attention to my learning objectives, I also tried to incorporate other relevant pieces of the DEL program and course design to ensure activities were relevant/authentic, incorporated active learning pedagogies, and allowed students ample opportunities to self-assess via brief quizzes, and gamification by adding badges to the course.

Building the course

Now that I had a plan and a general idea that I thought would work, I started building the course.  I borrowed templates & home pages from other courses and imported all of the existing course content into a new Canvas course shell.  From there, I renamed modules and reorganized content. This allowed me to do other minor things like create a naming convention for the modules and their contents, and set a module flow. After this, I began working on formatting content and moving pieces to where they needed to go – this also allowed me to work on the accessibility of the course as I went so I did things like organize headers into reading order, add alt text to images, turned on captions for videos and re-aligned content on pages.

Practicum Adjustment

While I was building the content, I ran into a realization though that I may not be able to finish the course on time for the following reasons:

  • With the rearrangement and alignment of activities, I didn’t have as much course content as I thought I did. New material would need to be written.
  • I had changed jobs and wasn’t familiar enough with some of the topics anymore to write them, so I would need to re-learn a lot of content.
  • The 10 week quarter is really compressed and I was too ambitious, I really should’ve spread this work across multiple terms.

I’ve completed three of the five modules I planned on using and have started putting together the content I would like to use for the last two, as well as potential practice and assessment options.  These last two modules, Areas of Support and Technician Tools are the most difficult and time consuming because new content needs to be created for both. 

Practicum Reflection

While, I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to complete all of the phases I had in mind, working on this project gave me a more realistic experience and understanding of what adjuncts and faculty go through to develop their courses.  Both are already working full time and then working through course development on top of that, can be overwhelming and without support or past experience, can make the development of a course really difficult.  I found new and greater appreciation for the work instructors did during the pandemic to do emergency remote teaching.  If I were still in ETM, I think I would try to set more realistic expectations for instructors so they could start earlier and try to have student employees who could help do some of the content organizational work to free up an instructors time to focus on their area of expertise.
 
As I think about my practicum I also realize there is room for improvement, such as finding ways to better incorporate technician experience and feedback – possibly though a survey, as well as developing a plan to regularly update and assess how the course is doing and whether or not the goals I set for the course are being met.
 
As a staff person, I continue to see the importance of providing quality professional development/learning activities for all employees.  It also reinforced for me that quality online teaching is possible, but just like teaching in person, can take multiple years and iterations and feedback to get really good at it.
 
I also really enjoyed being able to apply the work and skills I learned in ETM and the DEL program to work I’m doing now in IT.  When I changed jobs I wasn’t entirely sure how my EdTech skills would be integrated into my current position, but as I get more acquainted with my job, I see many possibilities and am glad I worked on the ISTE standards because I get to apply them on a regular basis, just in a business environment instead of a classroom.