Course and Program Development (narrative)

It is rather challenging to write about my efforts in course and program development, since I have had the great fortune of working in two academic departments deeply committed to growth and program improvement. That is, at both Hofstra and VCU, the departments of educational leadership never rested on their laurels and always worked to make sure that our programs, courses, curricula, etc. were strong and relevant.  Thus, I will highlight a few examples of course and program development development that stand out to me.

Course Development

Earlier in this narrative, I wrote about designing and teaching a course on the Politics of Education at Hofstra.  I also wrote about developing a course at Hofstra called Web-based Surveys for Data-Driven School Leaders.  In addition, while there was a course called School Law listed in the course bulletin at Hofstra when I was hired, the course had not been taught for many years.  As a result, there was no curriculum from which to build a course.  Therefore, I had to design the curriculum for the course in its entirety.  I chose to subtitle the course Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Public Schools since I wanted to focus on issues of Constitutional law as applied to the institution of public schooling.  That focus allowed me to facilitate learning within a cultural liberationist framework and to bring students to a place where they could be critical, reflective learners. Over time, I had to modify the course to fit various timeframes.  Also, where I referenced state-level law, I had to modify the content of the course considerably when I moved from Hofstra to VCU in order to reflect the differences in New York and Virginia law.

Educational Technology and School Leadership (ADMS 647) is a course that did not exist when I arrived at VCU. The masters and post-masters programs included an elective course (TEDU 560) that was a course about teaching with technology. My sense was that this was a fine course for pre-service teachers, and that aspiring school leaders would probably benefit a bit from learning about instructional technologies. However, ours was a leadership program; we needed a course on educational technology for school leaders. So, I designed a course around the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A), which represent what school leaders should know about and be able to do with technology. The course was also designed as a fully online course, a reasonably new venture for the department.

For Fall 2010, I was asked to develop a module for the Ed.D. program around data analysis and data visualization. The idea was that the students in the Ed.D. program had some exposure to statistical analysis in the early part of the program, but they needed to learn some more advanced forms of analysis. Furthermore, a major goal of the course was to help students learn modern forms of data visualization. I designed a course where the students could use real data from a survey that had been conducted and learn how to analyze the data using only Microsoft Excel with some advanced add-ins including EZ-Analyze. Additionally, the students explored new technologies and new ways to visualize both qualitative and quantitative data. At the end of the semester, we worked on advanced modes of presenting the results of research both in writing and orally.

Program Development

While at Hofstra, I had a unique and wonderful opportunity to do some program development.  Specifically, the Postsecondary Partnership Program (P3), part of the University of Minnesota’s School Technology Leadership Initiative (STLI), was an opportunity for other educational leadership preparation programs to receive assistance with their technology-related pre-service and in-service training of school administrators. The STLI accepted five higher education partners in the Fall of 2003.  Through a competitive application process, the Department of Foundations, Leadership and Policy Studies in Hofstra University’s School of Education and Allied Human Services was successful in becoming one of those initial five higher education partners.  I wrote the P3 application for Hofstra and was the contact person for our partnership.

Postsecondary partners were expected to be active participants in an ongoing, collaborative network focused on the preparation of technology-literate school leaders. The involvement of me and my colleagues included regular participation in e-mail listservs and other online communication and collaboration channels, sharing of best practices and curricular objects with other members of the P3 network, etc. Although not required, postsecondary partners were also encouraged to engage in collaborative research, scholarship, and program development activities.  P3 partners also remained in regular contact with Drs. Scott McLeod and Joan Hughes, directors of the initiative, to receive individualized assistance with questions that arise as departments implemented their own pre-service and in-service technology leadership activities.

Hofstra’s postsecondary partnership program (P3) activities began in January 2004.  During my time at Hofstra, I engaged in a number of partnership-related activities, including but not limited to the following:

  • Reviewed STLI curriculum and resources for utility and relevance for Hofstra’s programs
  • Regularly contributed to School Technology Leadership Blog (www.schooltechleadershipblog.org)
  • Organized planning meeting with University and external advisors and stakeholders; meeting held on May 18, 2005.
  • Attended meeting with Microsoft Education Group at Microsoft headquarters (Redmond, WA) (February 27-28, 2006)
    • Discussed the STLI with key stakeholders and decision-makers in Microsoft
    • Learned about Microsoft’s internal organizational processes
    • De-briefed with other STLI P3 partners

At VCU, before my second year, I was asked to be the coordinator of the educational leadership track of the Ph.D. program. During my three years as track coordinator, I lead a major overhaul of the Ph.D. program curriculum. The general feeling, especially among the newer faculty to the department, was that the educational leadership track of the Ph.D. program in education was not much more than an advanced masters degree. So, we revised some existing courses and designed entirely new courses. I was able to revive the Politics of Education course I had designed and Hofstra and give it new life as a doctoral concentration course in the new program curriculum. There was also a concerted effort to give the program more of a social justice orientation as well as a healthy dose of policy coursework.  This program re-design was well-designed to coincide with the transition from a 60-hour Ph.D. program to a 48-hour program.

During academic year 2011-12, the Department of Educational Leadership undertook a major revision to the curriculum of our masters and post-masters program. This was an outgrowth of the Project ALL grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and was very much a department-wide effort; all faculty worked collaboratively to revise the program. My main role was and continues to be to inform course curricula with elements of ADMS 647 (Educational Technology and School Leadership). That is, while ADMS 647 will not be offered on its own, program faculty will be incorporating relevant technology issues into the courses they teach.

I have taken on the role of online community manager for the Department of Educational Leadership. As part of that role, I have worked with our two most recent cohorts in the Ed.D. program to have them develop electronic portfolios. Now, every student in our Ed.D. program has a WordPress-based ePortfolio that archives learning artifacts and that also includes a blog where students regularly reflect on aspects of educational leadership related to the program. For each cohort of the Ed.D. program, I developed a master blog to which all of the individual student blogs feed and are aggregated. For our second Ed.D. learning community, that site is vcuedd.com and for the third learning community (which began in the Summer of 2012), that site is vcuedd2015.com . Those sites are intended to be online community spaces where students can carry on conversations without the bounds of a classroom or class time. Also, every time a student writes a blog post on their own blog, the post is broadcast through the Department Twitter account and shows up on the aggregate blog which then feeds automatically into the Department of Educational Leadership Facebook group page. This way, anyone who is a member of the Facebook group is notified of the blog post and can visit the blog and comment. Students in the different cohorts are encouraged to subscribe to the blogs of the other cohorts, as well. This is all part of the online community ecosystem and garden of which I am the chief gardener.

 

NEXT: “On Scholarship…” (narrative) →

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August 18th, 2012 by Jon Becker