Creative problem solving and course redesign do not necessarily seem interconnected. However, after having reflected on ideas by Dr. Roger Firestien video 1 , video 2 and Jeffrey Baumgartner CPS paper we have realized that a strong connection is a must, if we are interested in creating technology-based rich courses that help students understand concepts and be able to apply them in different contexts.
Conversion of face-to-face courses to online or blended format is a challenging task. Major failures are related with the use of new interactive media in old fashioned expositive ways. This results from non-creative redesign processes where the approach is to upload existing syllabus and related course materials to the LMS.
Our experience shows that a diverge / converge facilitated strategy, with collaboration between content, pedagogy and technology experts, can make a difference, as we explain as follows:
- Understanding the problem: Content experts set the stage, in terms of educational needs to be solved, requirements to be satisfied, identification of big ideas to be understood through the course, characterization of the target population. This curricular framework helps finding the real focus of the course to be redesigned, and serves to refine each big idea in terms of enduring understandings, expected outcomes, initial misconceptions, and deliverables that could provide evidence of achievement, in particular authentic assessment problems.
- Diverge, build possible solutions: The course redesign team generates ideas that could help developing each of the big ideas, by bringing to the discussion table all those initiatives that could help students become engaged in learning. Authentic assessment becomes a key element since it gives the complexity and challenging context that leads to creativity.
- Converge, find solutions that promise solving the problem: An ALU—Advantages, Limitations, Unique qualities—assessment strategy serves to value proposed solutions, taking into consideration institutional and curricular framework. Those strategies that could make a difference and that seem to be viable should be selected for the specification of the course to be redesigned.
- Finding really what should be taught, in terms of big ideas and associated enduring understandings; this is the first challenge, since faculty rarely consider those key concepts that should last after a course, but list all the content that should be included under the course name.
- Determining authentic assessment indicators for each big idea use to be another problem, since application of knowledge is not always part of courses; in many cases faculty want students just to understand the concepts and demonstrate this. Problemic approach to teaching rises the bar, as long as grounded discussions and problem-based learning demand more than teaching the concepts, they require to apply them in relevant contexts.
- Technology integration use to be done just in the framework of what is available in the LMS and with existing digital expository resources; creative pedagogic solutions require creative technological frameworks, and interactive and active digital environments can make the difference.