Punya Mishra & Matthew Koehler

TE 150: Reflections on Learning


TE150: Reflections on Learning offers an engaging and memorable learning experience for students, relying strongly on the idea of a spiral curriculum: ideas need to be revisited in multiple contexts if they are to be learned and assimilated by students. The course uses the Moodle course management system rather than Angel because Moodle allowed the design team to modify the underlying PHP code and change it to meet their needs. The customized TE150 website aims to be dynamic, easy to use, and in some intangible way, capture the excitement and fun that instructors wanted to convey.

The design of TE150 is based both in the theoretical and conceptual knowledge of the design of technology for teaching and also by formative and experimental data that the team continually collects. The design and instructional teams meet every week to review and discuss what happened in the past week, what needs to be done in the coming few weeks, and what changes need to be made in the future. Their collective expertise (both technical and subject matter related) allows them revise and change things on the fly as and when needed. In that sense TE150 is a grand design experiment that the team seeks to improve iteratively with every offering of the course.

In addition to informal design critiques, the team is also engaged in conducting rigorous research on TE150. The first time TE150 was offered, an end of semester survey provided important feedback for the design of the new version. This semester the team is conducting a “true” experiment where students from the two sections were combined and randomly assigned to either a complete Moodle section or a Moodle + FaceBook section. The team intends to collect data from the discussion forums as well as implement a survey on social presence to see how these two technologies influence student perception and learning. At the end of the semester, they will be comparing the quality and quantity of student communication to determine if FaceBook provides a better platform for class discussion than Moodle. They will also survey the students regarding the use of FaceBook in class. By combining instructional innovation with rigorous research the team believed this project may provide the foundation for important inquiries related to social networking and online learning.

Another innovative aspect of TE150 is the creative use of multiple media formats (both for instruction and evaluation). From video clips to Flash based magic tricks, from memory games and experiments, from Internet searches to quizzes, from course based readings to discussion forums, TE150 has them all. The idea behind this rich range of formats is to allow students to see the world of learning from multiple perspectives, and approaches. Each of these varied representational formats has differing strengths and weaknesses and our goal is to utilize each in its appropriate context for maximal impact on student learning.

Multiple sources of evidence suggest that the design of TE150 was effective for promoting student learning. For example, in each module of the course, quizzes were used approximately half way through the module to see if students understood the theoretical concepts before advancing to more complex assignments that asked them to apply these concepts. The majority of students passed these quizzes on the first attempt (indicating the concepts were understandable to the majority of students), and students who failed on the first attempt were readily able to go back and revisit the material and then pass the quiz on a later attempt.

A movie montage in Module 1 introduces several of course concepts. Students write their interpretations of the educational
elements in these clips three times: once in the first module, and twice in the final Module. Big differences were also observed between students’ analysis of the video montage at the beginning and end of the course. After engaging with the material over a period of fourteen weeks, students were much more able to see and apply theories of learning as they played out in the situations depicted in the video. The contrast was noted by students as well, who compared their initial and final analysis and were able to see the evidence of their own applied learning. Similar high quality application of concepts and principles in the book occurred in students’ review and interview assignments.

End of semester survey evaluations revealed that students like teaching themselves and they like the multimedia approach to learning that is employed in TE150. Further, the students seemed to enjoy the videos and activities used. In line with the design goal of making the course accessible and meaningful, one student wrote that he/she “liked watching the media clips because they helped me to see and better understand the actual course topics that were embedded in movies that we see every day”. A second student wrote that he/ she liked “The videos, they made the class more engaging”.


Punya Mishra, Associate Professor, Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, CEPSE
Matthew Koehler, Associate Professor, CEPSE

Anne Heintz, Graduate Student, CEPSE: Content designer and Instructor
Mike DeSchryver, Graduate Student, CEPSE: Instructor
Andrea Francis Graduate Student, CEPSE: Instructor

Ashish Dore, Graduate Student, Computer Science and Engineering, Programming and Technology support

Michael S. Lee, Graduate Student, TISM: Media designer
Tianyi Zhang, Graduate Student, CEPSE: Content designer
Jinjie Zhang, Graduate Student, CEPSE: Content designer

Best Online Course

“…TE 150 offers an engaging and memorable learning experience for students, relying strongly on the idea of a spiral curriculum”

– Punya Mishra –