John Drover (pseudonym), Course Developer
|John Drover has been a teacher for seven years, spending several years at three different schools in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. His teaching experiences are primarily in mathematics, but he has also taught physics, art, and technology courses. He has taught a variety of distance education courses, also in mathematics.
John is a for the CDLI, where he has designed units for several math courses. He was responsible for developing the course curriculum guides, which he admitted were quite
a bit of work. In developing asynchronous courses, John knew that the textbooks for some of the courses were not that great, so he made sure that providing plenty of examples was key to the instruction. John often created two sets of plans of delivery, depending on whether the course instructor wanted to use the textbook. Also, since some of the activities were open-ended investigations, detailed instructions were necessary to avoid confusion, which can be problematic in an asynchronous online environment. John also redesigned several investigations using technology that was available to all students taking the online course.
John’s technical skill in designing curriculum using technology has grown since his first experiences in course development. At first, he created content using HTML but eventually began to use more advanced techniques (e.g., ActionScript, Flash, animated GIFs) and also incorporated calculator technology, such as Texas Instruments calculators. In addition to his technical skills, John began to improve his curriculum design skills. He admitted that early on, his design simply followed the template for most CDLI courses, with either long sections of text for the student to read or with the instruction to read the textbook and do the problems. John realized that the online lessons needed to be more engaging and interactive in order to better capitalize on the capabilities of the computers that were used in online delivery.
Based on his experience, John feels that courses could be developed in a more efficient manner if a content expert was paired with a programmer. While his skills in both areas developed over time, he felt that becoming strong at one aspect came at the expense of time spent developing the other. Under his proposed system, the developer could spend much more time on the front-end activities of planning the course and selecting appropriate activities, while the programmer could create the materials that would be needed for a particular lesson. John believed that this system would lead to quality online instruction, because the capabilities of the media, when created by a programming expert, can attract, motivate, and engage a student in ways that may not be possible in a traditional manner. In his opinion, students are often distracted and off-task during synchronous session, and are probably not utilizing the computer’s capabilities to the fullest extent. John feels, therefore, that even though developing asynchronous courses is a much more difficult task, the advantages to asynchronous instruction far outweigh this difficulty.