2012 Desire2EXCEL Awards Best Practices Using Desire2Learn Learning Environment to Achieve High Interaction and Engagement in a Fully Online Course Robert Sproule, Lecturer, School of Accounting and Finance, University of Waterloo Students typically don’t get excited about business courses; unless, of course, they are students in Robert Sproule’s AFM 131: An Introduction to Business in North America at the University of Waterloo. Robert is a Lecturer at the School of Accounting and Finance, and he has developed a comprehensive business course which keeps the students engaged through a variety of activities. An Introduction to Business in North America is a first year undergraduate course offered at uW aterloo in both on-campus, blended format and fully online via Waterloo -LEARN (powered by Desire2Learn). It is a survey course that introduces students to the major functional areas of business including finance, marketing, operations, and human resources. Innovation in AFM 131 is manifested in a defined course vision and purpose, a creative instructional design, an exemplary use of instructional technology, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Problem The course’s purpose and learning outcomes were developed based on a number of critical and possibly challenging factors: it is a required course for many programs at the university, it needs to adequately prepare new students for the rigors of further academic study in a variety of programs, and it is one of the largest enrollment courses at uWaterloo. The author sought to develop a course that provides a consistent, active, and engaging learning environment for students regardless of the delivery format. Students entering today's world of business need a solid foundation in its major concepts; at the same time, they must appreciate how these areas are linked together in a successful organization. An innovative concept map serves as an overview and introduction to the course content. The visual representation of an oil rig links various components of the content and connects the key functional areas of business addressed in the course. This helps students to better understand how these areas support each other. The concept map is initially presented to students in a course syllabus and reinforced throughout the program. Creative course design, delivery, and support elements illustrating AFM 131-based innovation all drive a team-based, experiential learning approach which culminates in three major ways: an online business simulation game, an ongoing and meaningful assessment of student learning and achievement, and a multi-layered student support model. Solution The ability to work successfully in teams is a requirement of today's business world. This teamwork structure provides, for each student, both the type of experiential learning opportunity not normally found in large enrollment courses and the chance to improve teamwork skills. Groups are involved in activities from initial team development (including the creation of a team contract using a template) to business decision-making and presenting final reports. Teaching Assistants (TAs) provide formative feedback to teams on the quality of their analysis after each week's discussion, preparing groups for the culminating, end-of-course report. The TAs also evaluate the co-operative learning experience of individual students using a rubric designed to reward students for high quality discussion posts. Collectively, these assessment strategies provide students with ongoing feedback throughout the term – atypical for large courses. The simulation is competitive, which adds an additional element of authenticity. As the term progresses, students are promoted in the business simulation so the scope of their responsibilities increases in parallel with course content. This provides an opportunity for immediate application. Students consistently rate the teamwork component of both the course and the business simulation game as an integral part of their learning experience. Each module provides resources to support student learning. For example, culminating worksheets help students reflect on the module's core concepts, how those concepts apply to other modules in the course, and how they may be adopted in the real world. Online modules begin with a landing page to orient students; they contain a concise list of modular learning outcomes, linked modular content, and additional resources for learning support and extension. Instructor-student interaction is enhanced in the on-campus version of the course by the use of iClickers to respond to topical questions during a low risk, in-class activity. The iClicker not only helps students self-assess their own knowledge, but also gives the instructor an indication of which course concepts are problematic and require further review. Assessment is used both to evaluate student achievement and evaluate student learning. Both formative and summative assessment methods are used, including: four weekly online discussions, peer evaluations, mid-term exams, in-class iClicker questions and follow-up discussions, online modular selfassessment quizzes, the business simulation’s team-based report, and a final examination. A rich array of multimedia is used to present and enable meaningful interaction with the course content. Students have access to online lectures (web-based version) and podcasts (in-class version) that they can review often to reinforce course concepts. Business experts visit the virtual classroom space through video interviews hosted and recorded by the instructor. TA-monitored-and-supported team discussions are also part of the online business simulation exercise. Outcome About University of Waterloo AFM 131 takes an active and experiential approach to learning. This methodology is introduced in the course syllabus and manifested in the design of each of the twelve learning modules covering a specific aspect of business. An experiential team-based activity is a central component of the course. The course design incorporates ongoing and meaningful assessment of student learning and achievement and a multi-layered student support models. Students are expected to take an active role in learning, working to apply course content primarily through the unique, online business simulation activity. The University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada’s Technology Triangle, is one of Canada’s leading comprehensive universities. We’re home to 34,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students who are dedicated to making the future better and brighter. Waterloo, known for the largest post-secondary cooperative education program of its kind in the world, supports enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. For more information about Waterloo, visit us at uwaterloo.ca Takeaways About Robert Sproule Combining the formal and informal learning experience, Desire2Learn Learning Environment is propelling the eLearning experience into the future. We pair innovative learning tools, accessibility best practices, powerful assessment options, and standards-based technology with integrated social learning and sharing, pervasive collaboration and connecting capabilities, and customized personalization options. Desire2Learn Learning Environment is redefining what an LMS should be. Bob hails from Western Canada where he has lived for most of his life. He completed a B.Comm. from Carleton University in 1970 and his M.B.A. from the University of Calgary in 1978. In 1974, he received his C.M.A. designation. He has held numerous financial and general management positions throughout his career. Since 1998 he has been a full time lecturer for the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo. His primary teaching responsibility is for large section first year courses in Accounting and Business. In 2009, Bob was honored by MERLOT who named him Volunteer of the Year. In 2010, he co-wrote a book entitled Understanding Canadian Business, 7th edition. He and his co-authors are updating that edition with a soon to be released (2013) Understanding Canadian Business, 8th edition. In 2012, Bob won both the Desire2EXCEL Innovation Award and the Desire2Learn Teaching Innovation Award (STLHE). As seen in this showcase, these capabilities were introduced through a number of exceptional and engaging activities featuring students constructing knowledge together through true collaboration. For more information about Desire2Learn Learning Environment, visit http://desire2learn.com/products/learning-environment or email [email protected] About Desire2EXCEL Awards Each year, Desire2Learn honors the best of the best with our Desire2EXCEL Awards. These awards recognize organizations and institutions using Desire2Learn technology to deliver innovative and collaborative learning experiences that have had a high, significant, or extraordinary impact. This white paper showcases one of the year’s nominees who have used Desire2Learn technology for instructional purposes to enhance teaching and learning, focusing specifically on high class interaction and collaboration with a unique twist. 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