SOE Student Creating Online Courses in Disability Law

By Pamela Smith

I am a person with a disability, transitioning back to work as a law professor after years of being on disability leave. I am pursuing the M.S. in Technology for Educators from the Johns Hopkins School of Education in order to learn how to design and create high-quality, interactive online courses in disabilities law and/or disabilities studies. I am also pursuing an M.A. in Disabilities Studies from City University of New York.

I took Designing and Delivering E-Learning Environments (DDELE) with Professor Donna Schnupp in the summer of 2016. It was one of my first courses in the program, and it was critical to my achieving my goal. As part of that course, I developed the design for a module in a course I have titled “Exploring Issues of Adult Employment for People with Disabilities.” The module focused on some of the barriers people with disabilities face, e.g., high unemployment and wage disparities. In addition to designing this module, we also had to create basic infrastructure online for the course, which I did using CourseSites. Professor Schnupp provided some excellent insights on that initial infrastructure, which I was able to use when I created the full course. In fact, I was also able to expand and use that skeleton for the full course.

When DDELE ended, Professor Schnupp encouraged me to take Instructional Design for Online Learning (IDOL) to continue to design the full course, and I did in the fall of 2016 with Nicola Wayer, using the first three parts of the five-part ADDIE model (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate).

The DDELE course allowed me to begin the process of creating a full online, 15-week law school course by focusing on a single module. I was able to articulate my vision for this course from that module and I continued the design process for the full course in IDOL.

I actually created the course with Professor Schnupp’s guidance in the fall of 2016 in Advanced Applications of Instructional Technology (AAIT). Professor Schnupp helped me solidify the scope of work in AAIT and reviewed my initial steps as I created the full infrastructure for the online course.

I have to admit that my design helped me when I ran afoul of technology difficulties because I never doubted my vision or design. I just needed to find my way around the technology. Working my way to find useful technology that would work with a Macbook Pro was surprisingly challenging and a lot of things went wrong. It took a lot of time and effort to create a full online course, but I did it and Professor Schnupp provided encouragement and guidance.

My goal for taking the M.S. in Technology for Educators was to learn how to design a quality online course. For this one course, I began designing one module in DDELE. I continued designing a whole course in IDOL. I created that course in AAIT with Professor Schnupp’s guidance. In creating the course, I learned I had a lot left to learn to master technology. I am looking forward to the journey because despite all the technology problems I had, I actually designed and then created my first fully online course in disabilities law. I can only get better.

When I go back to work, my goal is to teach four fully online or hybrid (onsite/online) courses at a law school. I’ve already created one course. I have more to create. I feel confident that I can do so because the coursework in my program has been very helpful for my personal development and confidence. Further, the instructors, like Professor Schnupp, model good design and good teaching. I feel comfortable following not only what I was taught, but also how I was taught, as I create my own courses. As I create more courses, I will continue to do so to follow these best practices.


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