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June 20 2012  

eCoaching Tip 99:  Three Quick and Easy Ideas for Wrapping Up Summer Courses  

As your summer courses come to a close, it is not unusual for stress to overpower the feelings of joy and delight and confidence that learning brings.

Here are three ideas for wrapping up the last week or two that can help your students reflect and clarify what they have learned during the often frenetic time of a summer course.

As with the suggestions in the companion tip #98 on Best Practices for Summer Teaching and Learning, I hope that you choose one of these wrapping ideas and see how it works for you and your students.

Each of these wrapping strategies is easy to implement in the last few days of a course.

1. Create a “Course Wrap” forum and ask students to share their favorite reading, activity or resource from the course and to share what made it so for them individually.

As you prepare this forum request, imagine that you are talking with your students in an informal setting and just ask them to share what reading, activity, or resource worked best for their own learning and that they will remember going forward. This would be a course activity they would encourage you to keep for future students because it really helped clarify some important insight on concept. Or it might have helped them “see the big picture, or pull it all together.” 

It might have been a seminal reading by Peter Senge about the five components of a learning organization and the belief in the power of individuals and organizations to recreate themselves. Or the power of systems thinking. Or the perspective of the leader as designer and visionary.

Or as another example, students might share their insight gleaned from one of the business leaders in the Fifty Lessons videos, such as John Abele, a cofounder of Boston Scientific and his description of the need for an appropriate “balance of information” in the implied social contract between a business service and its customers.

This course wrap forum also provides useful feedback as to how students are responding to your course design. The learners get a chance to reflect, and reaffirm something that is meaningful to them in a relatively risk-free setting.

2. Collect summary statements of core principles and insights from learners.

Recall that one of the best practices from Tip #98 is to “Frequently affirm the core concepts, big ideas, and the big picture for the course.”

In the last week of the course you want to hear from your students what core principles or insights they were inspired by and feel confident about having an impact on their future career or life.

How is one to do this?  Here are some ways you can do this.  You can use tools such as blogs, live classroom events or even a twitter line. If you have not used these kinds of tools already, you may want to use the tried and true discussion forum or any tool already in use in your course.

  • Set up a forum for the purpose of creating a summary set of core ideas — as applied to their own future courses and lives.  Recall the best practice of giving students choices in what they do. This forum can serve as a class summary, unique to this particular group of learners.
  • Create a course blog or forum for the final week that captures the students’ thoughts and insights. Then students can keep it as a final wrap of the course and reminders as well of the network of students they have met.
  • Return to your course framework, or mind map and ask your learners to annotate the core concepts with personally noted patterns, relationships and questions extending the core concepts.

3.  Ask students to share one or more of their next most important steps, questions or actions from the course content and to also post it in their journal.

This request is again an informal, but important question that can be set up in a forum or a blog, somewhat as a course narrative.
 
Remember the course framework and course mind map that provides structural underpinnings for all the course principles and insights? Learning is about what we want to know “next” in using these principles and insights. A class narrative can encourage learners to reaffirm how ideas link together and build on previous experiences, courses or what is coming next for them.

Conclusion

The goal of a course wrapping experience is to bring intellectual and social closure to a particular course experience.  It is a way to affirm, “This is what I learned; this is what it means to me and this is my continuing curiosity about the content.”
It is an added benefit to you that it can provide so much feedback to your course design and your teaching.

References

Abele, J. Ethics: The Balance of Information. 50 Lessons Library.  Skillsoft.  http://www.50lessons.com. Note: this is a subscription resource, but useful samples are available.

Boettcher, J. (2006) Tip 30 “Course Wrapping" Reminders.  Retrieved June 20 2012 from http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/tips/tip30.html

Boettcher, J. (2012) Tip 98 Five Best Practices for Summer Teaching and Learning. In the SLPA Faculty Webinar site or after June 5 2013 at http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/tips/tip98.html

Smith, M. K. (2001) Peter Senge and the learning organization. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved June 19, 2012 from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/senge.htm

Note: These eCoaching tips were initially developed for the professional development of online faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2010 in a book The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached judith followed by designingforlearning.org.

 

 

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Revised May 20 2013
Copyright Judith V. Boettcher, 1997-2013