The word “mastery” is thrown around too freely. While time does not equate to learning, mastery does require time and focus. It also requires a person to go beyond a single skill, expanding his or her knowledge to include a broad set of complementary talents. Master chefs have to tie their offerings to factors beyond the food on the plate. They also need to provide superior service, design and pairings because they know that a next-level culinary experience is about more than just seasoning.
Many educators recognize the term “master course” as a common idiom for the “parent” online course that supplies the “children” sections. That source course (my favorite term for it is “blueprint course”) becomes the place where all changes and revisions occur during the term, so that the next semester they can be rolled out to the next group of faculty and students.
Introducing D2L Master Classes
With a nod to these three concepts, the Academic Affairs team at D2L is proud to announce our very own set of Master Classes. The series, accessible through our brand-new Teaching and Learning Studio, is designed to tackle big themes in K-20 education, but in a bite-sized, microlearning kind of way. Each 45- to 60-minute Master Class will include assets that supplement and bolster your ability to contextualize, strategize and use the techniques and tools discussed. From infographics to documentation and blogs to literature reviews, you will have a bevy of useful assets, enabling you not only to be successful but also to find flexibility as appropriate. And if you’d like to spend another 30 minutes performing the assessment, then a certification is also available.
We’ll be taking our comprehensive knowledge of teaching and learning and helping break down some of the pieces of that science/art into timely, focused chunks.
Many of those ideas could impact your own course offerings. We hope that as you take one Master Class after another, you find them helpful for making tweaks or changes to your existing curricula.
Now, a few anticipated questions:
Q: How much does it cost to take a D2L Master Class?
A: NOTHING! These Master Classes dedicated to better teaching and learning practices are completely free.
Q: How long does it take to go through a Master Class?
A: The explicit content should take no more than one hour to go through. There will also be an assessment that will take participants roughly 30 minutes. (Note: Participants may go back through the content as often as they would like.) But there will also be plenty of additional resources and assets that participants can choose to engage with along the way.
Q: Is this Master Class just a glorified D2L training?
A: Nope. In fact, these Master Classes are not about “how to use D2L” at all. We have an entire training team for that! These Master Classes are about teaching and learning, agnostic of any platform and, as often as possible, agnostic of a specific modality.
Q: Do I have to be a D2L customer to take these Master Classes?
A: No! These classes are open to anyone looking to hone, improve or shore up their knowledge of the specific teaching and learning strategy being discussed.
Q: How do I enroll in a Master Class?
A: From the D2L Teaching and Learning Studio (the page you clicked here from), just follow the link into the Master Class area. If it is your first time taking an open course through D2L, you will need to sign up. But if you have taken another Master Class in the past, you will be able to look through the existing courses to see whether one catches your eye.
Q: What will you do with my information?
A: We promise not to inundate you with emails, and we will not use these lists (nor would we ever sell or distribute these lists) in order to sell anything. You can expect a few emails per year about relevant webinars, workshops or perhaps submission announcements for conferences.
Q: Who are these Master Classes for, exactly?
A: We will work hard to ensure there are ties to K-20 educational contexts, but we will also try to make these Master Classes contain helpful information for practitioners as well as staff, and administrators. (Example: One of the first Master Classes available is about S-E-L, or social emotional learning. We realize this is discussed largely in K-12 contexts, but we have worked hard to bring the salient points and operational concepts into a higher education framework too.)
Q: Will I receive any kind of credit for these Master Classes?
A: Yes! You may request a certification upon completion of the final assessment in each Master Class.
Why We’re Launching the Master Class Series
By now, you’ve probably seen the same thing we have. Over the past two years—likely due to so much emergency academic work—professional development (PD) has taken a hit. Dollars have dried up, and people have reached a breaking point with required PD from their home institutions. And importantly, that required PD is often not about teaching and learning practices but about processes or operations specific to the school. We hope that these bite-sized, heavily focused chunks of Master Class content showcase both theory and practice in an easily digestible format.
To that end, we will lean into differentiation as much as we can, thereby modeling best practices for online learning along the way. You will hear from guest experts in almost every Master Class, gleaning important strategies as you go. The content itself will be curated from the dozens of teaching and learning experts employed at D2L, as well as through the extensive network of K-20 instructors who we interact with regularly. (In fact, if you take the Master Classes, be on the lookout for opportunities to share your own effective practices!)
The point is, we are looking to help transform learning through this medium. While the courses are self-paced, note that there are opportunities to begin networking too. As well, in asynchronous discussions, effective examples and illustrations can be shared. At their core, D2L Master Classes are really about connecting educators at all levels to strategies, innovations and each other.
Good luck, and good learning.